While the eyes of the media seem to be focusing on
the White House
Paris Hilton, many disturbing events have been taking place at the Supreme court. There has been at least some degree of coverage of the more whimsical aspects of the final ruling of the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case.
To rehash, In 2002 a Juneau, Alaska high school student John Frederick displayed a banner that said "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" off of school grounds and at a public event (an Olympic torch relay) and was promptly suspended by his principal. This provoked a lengthy civil rights lawsuit. Now the Supreme Court has held that schools have the right to censor non-disruptive student speech if it "can reasonably be regarded as encouraging illegal drug use." some legal experts have called this the most important free speech case in 20 years
Dissenting, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that "the Court does serious violence to the First Amendment in upholding -- indeed, lauding -- a school's decision to punish Frederick for expressing a view with which it disagreed." Washington Post
There are some great links to stories about this decision, including this one from Crooks and Liars
. Jon Stewart of the Daily Show did a great send up of all of these decisions, but I have not found the video on the internet yet. Maybe Crooks and Liars
will post it?
Five conservative justices are now in control of the Supreme court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.
The Supreme Court on Monday confirmed the contours that are taking shape under Chief Justice John Roberts.
Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia supported an Alaska high-school principal who forced a student to take down a banner proclaiming "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." They also blocked taxpayers from challenging President Bush's faith-based initiatives. Seattle Times
Wait, wait... What was that last part?
[...] They also blocked taxpayers from challenging President Bush's faith-based initiatives. Seattle Times
Little has been said about this ruling:
Alito wrote the court's opinion that said ordinary taxpayers cannot challenge a White House initiative that helps religious charities get a share of federal money.
The decision blocks a lawsuit by a group of atheists and agnostics that objects to government conferences in which administration officials encourage religious charities to apply for federal grants.
In dissent, Souter said that the court should have allowed the taxpayer challenge to proceed. Houston Chronicle
Roberts and crew also sided with President Bush and land developers over environmentalists in this case:
The U.S. Supreme Court sided with developers and the Bush administration Monday in a dispute with environmentalists over protecting endangered species in Arizona.
The court ruled 5-4 for home builders and the Environmental Protection Agency in a case that involved the intersection of two environmental laws, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.
In the case, an environmental group challenged the EPA's decision to transfer to Arizona the authority to regulate pollutants emptied into rivers and other surface water sources. The group, Defenders of Wildlife, argued that the transfer violated the federal Endangered Species Act and would leave the state's rivers vulnerable to contaminants that could damage wildlife habitat.
In a ruling that will also make it easier for corporations to get their message out, Roberts and his posse ruled that Wisconsin Right to Life should have been permitted to run pre-election ads targeting Democrats.
A closely divided Supreme Court made it easier on Monday for corporations, labor unions and special interest groups to broadcast certain issue advertisements right before an election.
The majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed to the court by President George W. Bush, said the law is unconstitutional as applied to issue ads that a Wisconsin anti-abortion group wanted to broadcast before the 2004 election.
The ruling was a victory for the group Wisconsin Right to Life, which argued the law violated its free-speech rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution. Reuters
This disturbing trend is not going to go away soon:
Presidential elections and judicial selections matter, the Supreme Court demonstrated Monday in a series of 5-4 rulings that underlined the court's move to the right.
President Bush filled two high court openings early in his second term with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. They wrote the main opinions in rulings that relaxed rules on corporate and union political spending, limited students' speech and shielded the White House faith-based program from legal challenge.
Five justices — Roberts, Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — formed the majority in each decision. The court's four liberals, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens, dissented each time.
Kennedy, the only justice in the majority in all 21 of the court's 5-4 decisions this term, has voted with his conservative colleagues more often in recent close cases.
With its term rapidly nearing an end, the court has perhaps the biggest issue of the year still to decide: whether public school districts can take account of race in assigning students to schools. Many court watchers are expecting a similar ideological split, with conservatives limiting the use of race. Houston Chronicle
And what are the politicians saying?
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards was among those who bemoaned the court's rightward tilt. The court "is moving the right wing's agenda faster than we've seen in decades — slamming the courthouse doors in the faces of ordinary people, favoring big businesses over civil rights and undermining protections for women and the environment."
But White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Monday's decisions included a loss for the administration in the campaign finance case."The president's position is that in any case you're going to have someone who loses and someone who wins, but we can all be confident that we have fantastic Supreme Court justices,"
Perino said. Houston Chronicle
What did Perino just say the official White House position is? That sometimes people win or lose, but that the Supreme Court justices are "fantastic?" WTF is that supposed to mean?
This is yet another reason why it is so important that we get a Democrat in the White House in '08. We must take back the Supreme Court as well. Fair-minded left-wing supreme court justices don't just appoint themselves.