Monday, June 25, 2007

Long Live Justice John Paul Stevens!

"I want the people to know that they still have two out of three branches of the government working for them, and that ain't bad. "
Jack Nicholson as President Dale in Mars Attacks (1996).

Make that one out of three. We still have Congress on our side, don't we?
If we ever needed any more proof that Supreme Court appointments matter, we got it in spades today. Five decisions, all 5 to 4, all falling IMHO on the wrong side of the law (precedent be damned!) Here's a brief recap for those of you whose job doesn't include following the every whim of the highest court in the land:

--National Association of Home Builders v. Defenders of Wildlife (06-340) in which Justice Alito ruled that that Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act [EPA materials] does not "effectively operate" as an additional criterion to be considered by the Environmental Protection Agency when determining whether to transfer permitting power under the Clean Water Act [EPA materials] to state authorities. This is a victory for those who seek to undermine the Endangered Species Act and do whatever they damn well please on land over which they may have excercised control for all of 15 minutes.

--Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation (06-157). Another little gem penned by Alito (that's right, I've already quit refering to him as "Justice" a name he has not earned in my book), in which Alito held that taxpayers do not have standing to challenge executive branch actions under the Establishment Clause. Again, screw the taxpayer, it's not their money once the guvmint gets its mitts on it. Here's a link that details more of the dangerous ramifications of this decision: Freedom from Religion Foundation.

--Wilkie v. Robbins (06-219). This one is a surprise, written not by Alito or Roberts, but by Justice Souter (an occasionally reasonable fellow) wherein he rules that government employees carrying out their official duties and not for personal benefit are not subject to damage claims against them personally based on a lawsuit asserting that they violated the RICO anti-racketeering law or private property rights. In other words, hands off guvmint employees, they are above the law.

--Morse v. Frederick (06-278). A decision that was written by none other that the Chief Justice his own self Mr. Roberts in which he declares that that public schools do not violate the First Amendment rights of students by sanctioning them for speech during a school-sanctioned activity that may be reasonably interpreted to promote the use of illegal substances. This was the infamous "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case, and I would like to remind readers the sign was not on school property - free speech be damned!

--Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life (06-969). This is the final 5 to 4 decision handed down by the Supremes today. it's another winner by Roberts in which he essentially ruled that Section 203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act is unconstitutional as applied to pre-election issue ads run by Wisconsin Right to Life. One has to wonder if the decision would have been the same if the group challenging this particular law was say Planned Parenthood or NARAL or some other pro-choice organization.

This is all to point out that Justice John Paul Stevens is 87 years old and we sincerely hope he doesn't eat any creme brule sent to him by Ann Coulter or otherwise suffer any mishaps or health problems, because he may very well be the only things that stands between the U.S. and an outright dictatorship. Long live Justice John Paul Stevens!

Here's an editorial summary of three of the cases from the NYTimes: Three Bad Rulings
Jeffrey Toobin's Commentary from The New Yorker: Five to Four

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