Agree Agree:  0
Likes Likes:  0
Page 1 of 9 12345 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 124
  1. #1
    Grand Slam Champion jjnow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    17,115

    Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Confession: I'm a big Supreme Court buff (Justice John Paul Stevens was like my D.C. hero). And since I know that a lot of TATers like to follow the Beltway scene, I thought it would interesting to keep track of the happenings of the high court this season.

    The court opened up it's 2010-2011 calendar this week, with oral arguments Monday-Wednesday. Each term runs from October-June.

    Here is the 2010-2011 calendar:

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arg...rtcalendar.pdf

    The court heard eight oral arguments this week. A couple of highlights:

    On Tuesday the court heard NASA v. Nelson. Basically the question is whether government contractors, in this case a group of engineers in California, are required to undergo the same extensive background checks as federal employees. The government says yes, but these engineers say that it violates their right to privacy (they specifically take issue with a question about past drug abuse). Justice Kagan recused herself since she recommended the case to the court as President Obama's Solicitor General.

    Wednesday was especially interesting: Snyder v. Phelps. Most people are familiar with Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church, thanks to their "God Hates F-gs" campaign. They also protest military funerals based on their belief that God is personally striking down members of the U.S. armed forces as retribution for the country's tolerance of homosexuality. A father of one the soldiers whose funeral was picketed by the church, Albert Snyder, sued the group. A jury in Maryland awarded him $10 million in punative damages, but the decision was overturned by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia. The Supreme Court basically has to decide if the First Amendment right to free speech in this case cancels out the right to freedom of religion and peaceful assembly.
    Blue Steel

  2. #2
    Grand Slam Champion jjnow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    17,115

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Here's the Washington Post's take on yesterday's oral argument:


    Court weighs free speech vs. privacy at funerals
    By Robert Barnes
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    The Supreme Court seemed to have trouble putting aside the ugliness of the message to focus on the rights of the messenger Wednesday, as justices tried to balance free speech against the privacy owed a grieving family burying a son.

    With protesters on the marble plaza outside a packed courtroom, the justices considered the case of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., whose anti-gay demonstrations have targeted the military funerals of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The church - which is made up almost entirely of the family members of its founder, the Rev. Fred W. Phelps - contends that the deaths are God's revenge for the country's tolerance of homosexuality. Albert Snyder - the fatherof Matthew Snyder, 20, a Marine whose funeral was one of hundreds the group picketed - sued.

    Most First Amendment experts said before the argument that they expected the court to make a straightforward, if distasteful, ruling that even vile public speech is protected by the First Amendment. If that is what the justices decide, though, it appeared from the oral arguments that it would not come without some angst.

    Sean E. Summers, who represents Snyder, set the tone with his first words to the justices.

    "We're talking about a funeral," he said. "If context is ever going to matter, it has to matter in the context of a funeral. Mr. Snyder simply wanted to bury his son in a private, dignified manner."

    Summers faced tough questioning from the justices about whether the funeral was actually disrupted by the protest, whether public speech could ever be curtailed because of the objections of the listener and, from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, how a group could be sued for damages over actions that were lawful.

    But even Ginsburg, the justice who was most skeptical of Summers' arguments, noted the unpleasantness of the group's actions.

    "This is a case about exploiting a private family's grief and the question is: Why should the First Amendment tolerate exploiting this bereaved family when you have so many other forums for . . . getting across your message?" Ginsburg asked Margie J. Phelps, the founder's daughter, who was representing family members.

    Phelps replied: "When I hear the language 'exploiting the bereavement,' I look for: What is the principle of law that comes from this court?"

    She said that the court has set limits on what public places a person can visit to "deliver words as part of a public debate," and that as long as those are respected, "this notion of exploiting, it has no definition in a principle of law that would guide people as to when they could or could not."

    Nearly all of the justices referred to the group's noxious practices; a sampling of the signs carried at Snyder's March 2006 funeral at St. John's Catholic Church in Westminster, Md., included "God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11," "Semper Fi Fags," "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "Priests Rape Boys."

    ...

    When it was her turn at the lectern, Phelps faced a host of hypotheticals. Justice Elena Kagan wondered whether protesters could target a wounded service member, continually protesting at his home or church, because of his role in the war.

    Alito suggested another: whether someone could engage a grandmother visiting the grave of her grandson killed in the war, confronting her with "vile" descriptions of his death and applauding it.

    Phelps eventually answered that there might be very limited occasions when actions might justify a lawsuit and said restrictions against use of "fighting words" or stalking might also come into play.

    Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. seemed troubled by the choice of Snyder's funeral as the place for a protest.

    "Does it make a difference, which seems to me to be the case here, that Mr. Snyder was selected not because of who he was, but because it was a way to get maximum publicity for your client's particular message?" he asked.

    Phelps said that that was not true, but that holding protests where they will receive the most attention is not forbidden.

    She also resisted the notion that Snyder was a private figure, saying he had put himself in the public arena by questioning the war in interviews after his son's death.

    "A little church, where the servants of God are found, say, 'We have an answer to your question . . . and our answer is: You have got to stop sinning if you want this trauma to stop happening,' " Phelps said.
    Full article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...0607247_3.html
    Blue Steel

  3. #3
    SP Creator
    Awards Showcase

    Moose's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Phoenixville PA
    Posts
    39,136
    Blog Entries
    28

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    I found this tidbit from oral argument very enlightening:

    Mr. Summers said that some of the signs made the fallen Marine, Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, and his family their targets, including one that said, “You’re going to hell.”

    Justice Ginsburg noted that the church used those signs at many protests. “It sounds like the ‘you’ was the whole society, the whole rotten society in their view,” she said.

    Mr. Summers then made a concession that some justices seemed to view as problematic, saying that his client would have had no case if the signs were purely political protests against, say, the war in Iraq.

    “So the intrusion upon the privacy of the funeral is out of the case,” Justice Antonin Scalia mused.

    If the Court views this as merely a "content of the speech" case, then Phelps wins hands down. Courts are historically loath to regulate content. The Snyder family's best argument, I thought, was the speech as part of an overall intrusion into a private ceremony.

    Scalia, as conservative as he traditionally behaves, is much further to the left on First Amendment free speech cases - he believes flag burning is protected First Amendment speech, and he has generally sided with Ginsberg and Breyer on free speech cases.
    With Lucas Pouille at Indian Wells (2018)

  4. #4
    Head Cheese
    Awards Showcase

    Kirkus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    California, USA
    Posts
    37,635
    Blog Entries
    10

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Great idea for a dedicated thread.

    ::

    Re: Snyder v Phelps
    I've often wondered if the first amendment doesn't restrict the "right of the people peaceably to assemble" to "petition the government for a redress of grievances"? Is there specific protection here for private citizens to protest other private citizens.

    And even if there is, couldn't the nature of the Phelps' demonstrations be considered an "un-peaceable assembly"?

    I would think the nature of the protest could be described as attempting to insight a riot.

    Or am I reaching too far?
    Oh Grigor. You silly man.

  5. #5

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    This case make me think of the death penalty, which I generally oppose, but there are some instances where.......

    I'm a free speech advocate, but these people go too far. My solution is to buy them an island with no way off and let them be vile to each other for eternity.

  6. #6
    Contests
    Awards Showcase

    James7's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    6,075
    Blog Entries
    2

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    It's a very difficult issue.

    Nobody really approves of anything they say, but what legal route can you take to silence them that cannot be abused?
    I disapprove of this message

  7. #7

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    This is like the Ground Zero Mosque issue. Just because you have the legal right to do it doesn't mean it is the right thing to do.
    Towel Avatar, do your thing!

  8. #8
    Head Cheese
    Awards Showcase

    Kirkus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    California, USA
    Posts
    37,635
    Blog Entries
    10

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Miles View Post
    This is like the Ground Zero Mosque issue. Just because you have the legal right to do it doesn't mean it is the right thing to do.
    It's not a mosque and it's not at ground zero. (Sorry. I couldn't help it. )

    In all seriousness though, you're absolutely right. You can't legislate against bad taste and hatred.
    Oh Grigor. You silly man.

  9. #9
    Grand Slam Champion jjnow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    17,115

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirkus View Post
    Great idea for a dedicated thread.

    ::

    Re: Snyder v Phelps
    I've often wondered if the first amendment doesn't restrict the "right of the people peaceably to assemble" to "petition the government for a redress of grievances"? Is there specific protection here for private citizens to protest other private citizens.

    And even if there is, couldn't the nature of the Phelps' demonstrations be considered an "un-peaceable assembly"?

    I would think the nature of the protest could be described as attempting to insight a riot.

    Or am I reaching too far?
    You'll notice this question in the hyperlink I included to Snyder v. Phelps:

    "Does Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell apply to a private person versus another private person concerning a private matter?"


    A rundown of that ruling is here. Basic background: The court unanimously ruled that public figures (in this case Jerry Falwell) cannot seek damages for emotional distress.

    Margie Phelps argues that because Snyder made television appearances questioning the war, he essentially relinquished his right to privacy on the issue and became a public figure.

    I've known for a while now that his daughter is a lawyer, but I'm still kind of surprised that she actually seems pretty sharp on the law, and not a complete nut.
    Blue Steel

  10. #10

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Thanks for this thread JJ.

    As to Snyder vs Phelps it seems to me that we're talking about the same issue that's at the root of the controversy over letting the man's house burn down.

    As Kirkus argued, and in fact I think he's correct, if you let one guy get away with paying only when his house is on fire what incentive does the rest of the community outside of the city limits have to pay the fee? In these times $75.00 can be a big expense.

    Morally however, it's hard to understand how firemen, sworn to uphold the safety of the public, can stand around and let a man's house burn to the ground. It's not the kind of thing our society smiles upon.

    It's the same thing with the funeral protests. A funeral is an emotional thing without bringing in the tragedy of a life lost on the field of battle. It's private, and the deceased person's family has every right to expect privacy during their saying goodbye to the deceased. For these people to bring their protest into that setting is something that shocks me. I believe in free speech, it's what this country is founded upon, but to call themselves Christians and not respect the privacy of a grieving family is way beyond the pale.

    It's going to be interesting to see how the Court rules on this.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  11. #11
    Contests
    Awards Showcase

    Woody's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Calgary
    Posts
    4,670
    Blog Entries
    1

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by jjnow View Post
    Margie Phelps argues that because Snyder made television appearances questioning the war, he essentially relinquished his right to privacy on the issue and became a public figure.

    True enough, this would give the Phelps thugs the right to go on tv and criticize Snyder. I don't see how it gives them the right to invade a funeral. The funeral was not being used for any statements, as far as I know.

    If Phelps wins, I believe the absolute correct response is to organize people to aggressively invade the private lives of any Phelps activist. Bring pro-gay messages, as offensive (to them) as possible, and picket their houses, places of work, etc. Fair is fair!
    “I put in the work and wanted it so badly but this guy is the best for a reason. He is such a complete player ... maybe I'll just punch him or something, I don't know.” - Andy Roddick

  12. #12
    Head Cheese
    Awards Showcase

    Kirkus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    California, USA
    Posts
    37,635
    Blog Entries
    10

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    Thanks for this thread JJ.

    As to Snyder vs Phelps it seems to me that we're talking about the same issue that's at the root of the controversy over letting the man's house burn down.

    As Kirkus argued, and in fact I think he's correct, if you let one guy get away with paying only when his house is on fire what incentive does the rest of the community outside of the city limits have to pay the fee? In these times $75.00 can be a big expense.

    Morally however, it's hard to understand how firemen, sworn to uphold the safety of the public, can stand around and let a man's house burn to the ground. It's not the kind of thing our society smiles upon.

    It's the same thing with the funeral protests. A funeral is an emotional thing without bringing in the tragedy of a life lost on the field of battle. It's private, and the deceased person's family has every right to expect privacy during their saying goodbye to the deceased. For these people to bring their protest into that setting is something that shocks me. I believe in free speech, it's what this country is founded upon, but to call themselves Christians and not respect the privacy of a grieving family is way beyond the pale.

    It's going to be interesting to see how the Court rules on this.
    It's interesting that you would bring up the Cranick fire during this discussion. The one argument made in the Cranick discussion that I can't shake and that I can't square with my position is "in the end people do the right thing and sort it out later." I absolutely believe that.

    I don't understand how people can do something as callus as what the members of the Westboro Baptist Church do. It's simply unconscionable to me that anyone could do that to a grieving family. The lack of decency, no matter what their personal beliefs are, just boggles my mind.

    Many would say the same thing about those who made it possible for the Cranick's home to burn down when salvation was right there on the scene.

    My positions on these two separate issues just don't jive, and I'll drive myself crazy if I can't work it out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Woody View Post

    True enough, this would give the Phelps thugs the right to go on tv and criticize Snyder. I don't see how it gives them the right to invade a funeral. The funeral was not being used for any statements, as far as I know.

    If Phelps wins, I believe the absolute correct response is to organize people to aggressively invade the private lives of any Phelps activist. Bring pro-gay messages, as offensive (to them) as possible, and picket their houses, places of work, etc. Fair is fair!
    "Phelps thugs." Thank you!

    "...organize people to aggressively invade the private lives of any Phelps activist." Thank you!

    "...picket their houses, places of work, etc."
    Thank you!

    Where do I sign up?
    Oh Grigor. You silly man.

  13. #13
    Grand Slam Champion jjnow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    17,115

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    I thought I'd share.

    Here is a fantastic lecture by Jeffrey Toobin on the Supreme Court. It's about two years old, but notice that he calls the Souter and Stevens retirements, and accurately predicts Obama to nominate Elena Kagan.

    The section on the split between Sandra Day O'Connor and the Bush Administration is particularly interesting.

    http://fora.tv/2008/03/03/Inside_the...urt#chapter_03
    Blue Steel

  14. #14
    SP Creator
    Awards Showcase

    Moose's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Phoenixville PA
    Posts
    39,136
    Blog Entries
    28

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Per tomorrow's NYT, the conservative Public Policy Center has obtained a memo that Laurence Tribe wrote to President Obama in 2009, at the time of David Souter's resignation. Tribe, for those who don't know him, is a professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard, and is pretty much considered the most important living Constitutional scholar in the US.

    In the memo, he addresses potential replacements for Souter. Of Judge Sotomayor, he says "bluntly, she's not as smart as she thinks she is.".

    Of Elena K, he is much more enamored. Says she would be the one capable of being the intellectual equal of Scalia.
    Last edited by Moose; 10-28-2010 at 05:40 PM.
    With Lucas Pouille at Indian Wells (2018)

  15. #15
    Grand Slam Champion jjnow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    17,115

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Moose View Post
    Per tomorrow's NYT, the conservative Public Policy Center has obtained a memo that Laurence Tribe wrote to President Obama in 2009, at the time of David Souter's resignation. Tribe, for those who don't know him, is a professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard, and is pretty much considered the most important living Constitutional scholar in the US.

    In the memo, he addresses potential replacements for Souter. Of Judge Sotomayor, he says "bluntly, she's not as smart as she thinks she is.".

    Of Elena K, he is much more enamored. Says she would be the one capable of being the intellectual equal of Scalia.
    That was kind of the story on Sotomayor at the time of her nomination though. No one ever said she was judicial whiz. From what I remember, she was considered an average scholar of the law, but Obama wanted to diversify the court with a Hispanic and her record seemed safest to get through the nomination hearings. (Aside: I'm very curious about the Scalia/Sotomayor relationship. If you ever listen to recordings of oral arguments, it's amazing how often he seems to purposely interrupt or speak over her.)

    In other news, Justice Kagan cast her first (publicly released) vote on Tuesday evening. Surprise, surprise - she joined the liberal bloc in a 5-4 loss. Kennedy wrote the opinion.


    Supreme Court lifts Ariz. execution stay

    PHOENIX, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday night lifted a stay blocking the execution of an Arizona killer over concerns about where the state got its lethal drugs.

    The nation's highest court, on a 5-4 vote, granted Arizona Gov. Jan. Brewer's application to vacate a lower court's temporary restraining order.

    "There is no evidence in the record to suggest that the drug obtained from a foreign source is unsafe," the court said. "The district court granted the restraining order because it was left to speculate as to the risk of harm. But speculation cannot substitute for evidence that the use of the drug is 'sure or very likely to cause serious illness and needless suffering.'

    "There was no showing that the drug was unlawfully obtained, nor was there an offer of proof to that effect."

    Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan opposed lifting the temporary restraining order.

    The ruling clears the way for Arizona to execute Jeffrey Landrigan, who had been scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday morning.
    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/...4611288119733/

    He was put to death later that night.
    Blue Steel

Page 1 of 9 12345 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •