Tag Archives: supreme court

How the Supreme Court Came to Embrace Strip Searches for Trivial Offenses | The Nation

20 Aug

Those justices need to have their minds strip-searched!

This past April, the five conservative Supreme Court Justices gave jail officials the right to strip and search every person arrested and jailed, even if the alleged offense is trivial and there is no reason to suspect danger of any kind. The ruling, in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington, compounds the assault on human dignity committed by the Court in another 5-4 decision eleven years ago, in Atwater v. City of Lago Vista, when it authorized a full custodial arrest for even trivial “fine-only” offenses like a temporarily unbuckled seat belt. Our right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures has once again been undermined by a narrow conservative majority concerned more with protecting public officials than with the rights of ordinary Americans.

via How the Supreme Court Came to Embrace Strip Searches for Trivial Offenses | The Nation.

In Citizens United II, How Justices Rule May Be an Issue Itself – NYTimes.com

11 Jun

The Montana Supreme Court has decided that “that a state law regulating corporate political spending was constitutional notwithstanding Citizens United.” The US Supreme Court is expected to reverse that decision later this week. However . . .

The main question on Thursday, then, will be how the court will reverse the Montana decision. It could call for briefs, set the case down for argument in the fall and issue a decision months later. Or it could use a favorite tool of the court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. — the summary reversal.

Nine times so far this year, the court has issued an unsigned opinion ruling on the merits of a dispute without full briefing or oral argument. Such rulings have been the subject of criticism from practitioners and the legal academy. These critics say it is a mistake to resolve cases without adequate information and deliberation. It is also problematic, they add, to do so anonymously.

The latest critique arrived this month in The Tulane Law Review in an article by Ira P. Robbins, a law professor at American University. It was called “Hiding Behind the Cloak of Invisibility,” and it considered “per curiam” opinions, ones issued “by the court” without indication of authorship. “In the first six years of Chief Justice Roberts’s tenure,” Professor Robbins wrote, “almost 9 percent of the court’s full opinions were per curiams.”

Such opinions suggest that what they have to say is so simple and obvious that no serious judicial effort is needed. Yet not a few unsigned majority opinions have come with dissents. That combination — an unsigned majority decision and a signed dissent — was “an oxymoronic form, one that simultaneously insisted on both institutional consensus and individual disagreement,” Laura Krugman Ray, a law professor at the Widener University School of Law, wrote in 2000 in The Nebraska Law Review.

Prof Ray believes that this is a history-making case and that all “should sign on to what he or she subscribes to.” We agree. But we also fear that we are increasingly ruled by powerful cowards. We’ll see.

via In Citizens United II, How Justices Rule May Be an Issue Itself – NYTimes.com.

The Supreme Court just wants to be popular – Healthcare Reform – Salon.com

27 Mar

The legal issues would appear to be silly. So why’s the Supreme Court not only hearing this case, but giving so much time to it?

The Supreme Court has been under a cloud since Bush v. Gore, when it massively distorted the law in order to install its preferred candidate as president – a president who, it turned out, was one of the most incompetent in American history. Perhaps their rush to take this case is a bid for renewed legitimacy. It’s no great legal feat to say that silly arguments are silly, and on that basis to uphold the ACA [Affordable Care Act of 2010]. The Court generally occupies itself with hard cases, not easy ones. But this prominent case, which they have made even more prominent by dragging on argument for days, lets it say to all the Gore supporters (and the very large number of Bush supporters with buyers’ remorse) that, see, we’re nonpartisan and legitimate after all. As a legal matter, the answer is obvious, and as a political matter the advantages are delicious. Who could resist?

via The Supreme Court just wants to be popular – Healthcare Reform – Salon.com.

Should Corporations Have More Leeway to Kill Than People Do? – NYTimes.com

26 Feb

In Citizens United the Supreme Court held that corporations had rights heretofor restricted to humans. Now they are being asked to decide whether or not they have resposibilities.

The story behind the Kiobel case is compelling: The plaintiffs are members of the Ogoni people in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, where Royal Dutch Shell had extensive oil operations in the 1990s through contracts with the brutal military dictatorship that held power at the time. The region is widely considered a zone of calamity, in terms of both environmental and human rights. In the suit, Royal Dutch Shell was accused of assisting the Nigerian government in torturing and, through sham trials, executing Ogoni activists who had threatened to disrupt Shell’s operations because of the devastating health and environmental effects of unregulated drilling practices. The plaintiffs are either victims of torture themselves or had relatives who were executed. Esther Kiobel, the plaintiff after whom the suit is named, is the widow of a victim.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Royal Dutch Shell and against the plaintiffs, multinational corporations — particularly in mining and other extractive industries — could draw the lesson that it is now safer to forge alliances with autocratic regimes that have poor human rights records because they will not be judged culpable in the way individuals can be. …

A decision affirming that Shell should go unpunished in the Niger Delta case would leave us with a Supreme Court that seems of two minds: in the words of Justice John Paul Stevens’s dissent from Citizens United, it threatens “to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the nation” by treating corporations as people to let them make unlimited political contributions, even as it treats corporations as if they are not people to immunize them from prosecution for the most grievous human rights violations.

via Should Corporations Have More Leeway to Kill Than People Do? – NYTimes.com.