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Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
Politics and the Supreme Court
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Politics and the Supreme Court

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From Roe v. Wade to 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus'. …

From Roe v. Wade to 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus'.

From the Un-Distinguished Lecture Series (http://ws.cs.ubc.ca/~udls/). The talk was given Jan. 25, 2008.

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  • 1. Politics and the Supreme Court: From Roe v. Wade to 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' Nick Wiebe Jan. 25, 2008
  • 2. What is the Supreme Court?  The only court specifically mandated by the constitution  Made up of 9 Judges  Highest court in the land  Decide on cases by voting  The group of Judges in the majority write the binding decision of the court
  • 3. What is the Supreme Court? th ese i m ag es ar e i n t h e p u b l i c d o m ai n
  • 4. The Weakest Branch?
  • 5. So why are people pissed off?  “Judicial Activism” now a major political issue  Justice Sunday  Attended by thousands  Nationally telecast i m ag e so u r c e: h t tp ://w w w .p er r sp ec t i v es.c o m /i m ag es/u n j u std ay _ 081 005.j p g
  • 6. The Warren Court (1953-1969)  Led by Chief Justice Earl Warren  Decided a series of controversial cases:  Brown v. Board of Education, Griswold v. Connecticut, Engel v. Vital, and others “I n c i v i l i z ed l i f e, l aw f l o ats i n a sea o f eth i c s.” -- E ar l W ar r en
  • 7. 1965: Griswold v. Connecticut  Connecticut Law prohibited the use of any contraceptive drug (but was rarely enforced)  The Court found the law unconstitutional on the basis that it violates the right the right to privacy  Problem: the right to privacy is not mentioned in the Constitution.  Warren Court rational: right to privacy is part of the “penumbras” of other rights protected by the constitution “I th i n k th i s i s an u n c o m m o n l y si l l y l aw .” -- Ju sti c e P o tt er S t ew ar t
  • 8. th 14 Amendment “...n o r sh al l an y State d ep r i v e an y p er so n o f l i f e, l i b er ty, o r p r o p er ty, w i th o u t d u e p r o cess o f l aw ; n o r d en y to an y p er so n w i th i n i ts j u r i sd i cti o n th e eq u al p r o tecti o n o f th e l aw s.” -- T h e F o u r teen t h A m en d m en t  These lines are know as the due process clause and the equal protection clause  Substantive due process:  concept of liberty protects an implicit set of rights  source of a number of 'penumbra' rights (along with the Bill of Rights)
  • 9. 1973: Roe v. Wade  Texas law banned abortion in all cases  Supreme Court overturned this law, and deemed abortion to be a fundamental right, included in the right to privacy  But:  States do have an legitimate interest in protecting fetuses, though they don't count as persons under the 14th amendment  Court therefore set up a system of trimesters:  1st trimester: no State restriction on abortion  2nd trimester: State can regulate abortion in ways related to mother's health  3rd trimester: State can restrict abortion i m ag e so u r c e: h ttp ://ev o l v ef i sh .c o m /S h i r tI m ag es/S h i r tI m ag esS m al l /C o at H an g er S l ash -S m al l .g i f
  • 10. Where does R v. W stand now?  Some members of the current court seem inclined to overturn Roe v. Wade  But are there five?  Judges hold life term, and usually don't retire  To change the make-up of the Supreme Court, you need people to die (at the right time)
  • 11. Antonin Scalia  Appointed by Ronald Regan, 1986  Conservative Roman Catholic  Death Watch: Age 71  drinks the blood of orphans to keep fit L aw stu d en t: “H e's j u st i r r i tati n g . H e's l i k e o n e o f th o se p eo p l e w h o m astu r b ates to S c al i a d ec i si o n s.” -- O v er h ear d i n N ew Y o r k .c o m
  • 12. Clarence Thomas  Appointed by H.W. Bush, 1991  Angry, angry man  Death Watch: Age 59  But happy people live longer
  • 13. John Roberts  Appointed by George W. Bush, 2005  Current Chief Justice  Handsomest Supreme Court Judge?  Death Watch: Age 52  Had a seizure last year “I w o u l d p r ef er to d i sc u ss S h ak esp ear e's d o u b l e en ten d r e an d th e l atu s r ec tu m o f c o n i c sec ti o n s w i th o u t a b l o n d e g i g g l i n g an d b l u sh i n g b eh i n d m e.” -- Jo h n R o b er ts, ag e 1 7
  • 14. Samuel Alito  Appointed by George W. Bush, 2006  Scalito?  very conservative  Death Watch: Age 57  If only...
  • 15. Conservative Legal Philosophies  Textualism  Looks at the meaning of the words in a piece of legislation  Originalism  Looks to the intent of the legislators  Judicial restraint
  • 16. 2007: Morse v. Frederick  High School students were suspended for displaying this banner outside the school grounds during a school event  Court ruled this not a violation of 1st amendment right to free speech since the sign advocated illegal drug use (which the school has an interest in discouraging)  Decision based (partially) on originalist reasoning
  • 17. Ruth Bader Ginsburg  Appointed by Bill Clinton, 1993  Perhaps the most liberal  Silliest Glasses?  Death Watch: Age 74  Cancer survivor
  • 18. Steven Breyer  Appointed by Bill Clinton, 1994  ?  Death Watch: Age 69
  • 19. John Paul Stevens  Appointed by Gerald Ford, 1975  Old  So Old  Death Watch: Age 87  Very Old
  • 20. David Souter  Appointed by George H.W. Bush, 1990  Proved less conservative than expected  Death Watch: Age 68  revenge killing by G.H.W Bush? “S o u ter 's sty l e i s n o ti c eab l y n o n -l eg al ” -- C o n ser v ap ed i a
  • 21. Anthony Kennedy  Appointed by Ronald Regan, 1988  Swing voter  Hard to predict  Death Watch: Age 71  worn out from both sides perpetually sucking up to him?
  • 22. 2003: Lawrence v. Texas  Texas law criminalized homosexual sodomy  The Court ruled overturned this law (and all similar laws in other states)  Legal basis: Substantive due process  Ruled that state had no legitimate interest in banning gay sex  However, did not extend suspect classification to sexual orientation “T o d ay ’s o p i n i o n i s th e p r o d u c t o f a C o u r t... th at h as l arg el y si g n ed o n to th e so - c al l ed h o m o sex u al ag en d a” -- Ju sti c e A n to n i n S c al i a
  • 23. Suspect Classification and Strict Scrutiny  Legislation often singles out a group of citizens (e.g. the unemployed)  Equal protection clause guarantees all people equal protection under the law  How to resolve this?  For most cases, rational-basis test: Gov't action a rational means to a legitimate end  For cases involving Suspect Classifications (e.g. Race):  Strict Scrutiny: compelling gov't interest, narrowly tailored, least restrictive means
  • 24. 2000: United States v. Morrison  Virginia Tech student raped by Antonio Morrison  She filed suit against him under Violence Against Women Act  allows victim of gender-motivated violence to sue their attacker in civil court
  • 25. Commerce Clause “T h e C o n g r ess sh al l h av e p o w er . . . T o r eg u l ate co m m er ce w i th f o r ei g n n ati o n s, an d am o n g th e sev er al states, an d w i th th e I n d i an tr i b es;” -- A r ti c l e I , S ec ti o n 8, C l au se 3 o f U .S . C o n sti t u t i o n  Narrow vs. Broad View of the Commerce Clause  Strict limits on what Congress is allowed to legislate on?
  • 26. 2000: United States v. Morrison  is Violence Against Women Act an overreach of Congressional power?  Court ruled that it was, and struck down the act.
  • 27. 2007: Ledbetter v. Goodyear  Lily Ledbetter worked as a manager for Goodyear Tire for 19 years. For all that time, she was paid less than her male colleagues  She sued under Civil Rights Act,  prohibits discrimination by employers on basis of race, religion, gender, etc.
  • 28. 2007: Ledbetter v. Goodyear  Basic issue: Does the Statute of Limitations apply?  She sued 19 years after initial pay was set  Claims must be filed not more than 180 days after discrimination took place  Court ruled that continued effect of an act of discrimination does not reset Statute of Limitations

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