Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Short attention span musing - legal edition

The legacy of the Bush administration will live on for a decade or more after he's gone. Just check out the latest decisions from his pro-business (and pro-corruption!), anti-freedom (and anti-integrity!) Supreme Court -

(All from the Washington Post)

First, the Court protected free speech for wealthy corporate bribers...
5-4 Supreme Court Weakens Curbs on Pre-Election TV Ads

Ruling on McCain-Feingold Law Opens Door for Interest Groups in '08

The Supreme Court yesterday substantially weakened restrictions on the kinds of television ads that corporations and unions can finance in the days before an election, providing special interest groups with the opportunity for a far more expansive role in the 2008 elections.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the 5 to 4 decision, saying the McCain-Feingold campaign finance act's prohibition against the use of a candidate's name in such ads in the days before an election was an unconstitutional infringement on the groups' rights to advocate on issues.


"This is a big win for big money," League of Women Voters President Mary G. Wilson said in a statement. "Chief Justice Roberts has reopened the door to corruption."

Second up on the hit parade: The court undermed free speech for (relatively) poor students...
Court Backs School On Speech Curbs

A 5-4 Majority Cites Perils of Illegal Drugs In Case of the 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' Banner

The Supreme Court yesterday gave public schools new authority to regulate what students say, allowing principals to punish speech or demonstrations that may "reasonably be viewed" as promoting illegal drug use.


"[T]he court's ham-handed, categorical approach is deaf to the constitutional imperative to permit unfettered debate, even among high-school students, about the wisdom of the war on drugs or of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use," [Justice] Stevens wrote.

Rounding things out with a decision upholding government sponsorship of religious activity by limiting the right of the citizenry to petition (aka - 'sue') to stop said sponsorship...
Justices Quash Suit Over Funds For Faith Groups

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that federal taxpayers cannot challenge the constitutionality of White House efforts to help religious groups obtain government funding for their social programs, handing a victory to President Bush's faith-based initiatives program.


Justice David H. Souter wrote a dissenting opinion joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. Yesterday's decision "closes the door on these taxpayers because the Executive Branch, and not the Legislative Branch, caused their injury," he wrote. "I see no basis for this distinction in either logic or precedent."

Hmmm...let's sum up now - in one day, the Supreme Court brazenly protected wealthy loudmouthed corporate bribers, blithely told opinionated students to go self-copulate (my rhetoric aside, these two decisions do seem somewhat contradictory), and joyfully whittled away at the separation of church and state while widening the gap between citizenry and state.

All in all, a very busy day for the justices.

But they weren't done by a long shot.

They even found time to say that right of homebuilders to make a profit supercedes the Endangered Species Act. (courtesy ScotusBlog)

However, there was one bastion of judicial sanity and common sense on Monday, and the court was even in the District of Columbia.

It just wasn't the United States Supreme Court.

From The Globe and Mail -
Judge loses suit over pants

$54-million claim for misplaced trousers dismissed

WASHINGTON -- A judge in the U.S. capital lost his $54-million (U.S.) lawsuit yesterday against a dry cleaner over a pair of misplaced pants and will have to pay the defendants' trial fees.

Roy L. Pearson, an administrative-law judge in the District of Columbia, claimed a "Satisfaction guaranteed" sign in Custom Cleaners misled consumers who, like him, were dissatisfied with their experience.

The judge hearing the case ruled that Mr. Pearson did not interpret that sign in a reasonable fashion.

*$54 million* for a lost pair of pants isn't 'reasonable?' Gee, ya think??

How is it that the lowly (by comparative prestige level, anyway) District of Columbia Superior Court has a judge that could get it right, but the United States Supreme Court, supposedly made up of the best judicial talent out there, went 0 for 4 when it counted?

Of course, the import of yesterday's decisions will probably be lost in the tumult of the more significant legal news...

From the New York Daily News -
Paris freed!

LOS ANGELES - Free at last! Paris Hilton is out of jail.

...In related news, witnesses reported that the ghost of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was last seen roaming the halls of the Daily News, muttering "I HAVE A DREAM! A dream of catching certain writers and giving them the buttkicking that they deserve..."


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