Originally published 10/14/2013
If judicial activism is defined as the tendency to strike down laws, the court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is less activist than any court in the last 60 years.
Originally published 08/07/2013
He was a 16-year-old junior at Abington Senior High School, just making a statement, utterly unaware that he was about to make legal history.It was in 1956 that Ellery Schempp staged the classroom protest that yielded Abington v. Schempp, the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning mandatory Bible readings in public schools.When Schempp's homeroom teacher read aloud 10 verses from the New Testament at the start of the day, as required by Pennsylvania law, Schempp brazenly paged through a Quran he had borrowed from a friend.When a student read the Lord's Prayer over the public address system, another daily requirement, Schempp refused to stand.Those actions earned him trips to the principal and guidance counselor, and triggered years of litigation over his belief that such readings were unconstitutional....
Originally published 07/22/2013
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's warnings on judicial activism appear to have gained a new chapter at the Utah Bar Association's 2013 summer convention.The Aspen Times reported Sunday that Scalia drew upon the Holocaust as an example of how judicial activism can lead to problems. According to the Utah Bar Association's website, Scalia was slated to be the keynote speaker for the 2013 Summer Convention event, which was held from July 17-20 in Snowmass, Colo....Scalia opened his talk with a reference to the Holocaust, which happened to occur in a society that was, at the time, “the most advanced country in the world.” One of the many mistakes that Germany made in the 1930s was that judges began to interpret the law in ways that reflected “the spirit of the age.” When judges accept this sort of moral authority, as Scalia claims they’re doing now in the U.S., they get themselves and society into trouble....
Originally published 06/26/2013
Mary L. Dudziak is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law at Emory University. She is the author of War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences, and Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall's African Journey(CNN) -- When the Supreme Court on Monday sent Fisher v. University of Texas, an affirmative action case, back to the lower court for a second look, supporters of race-conscious policies breathed a sigh of relief.
Originally published 03/14/2013
Pamela S. Karlan is Kenneth and Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law at Stanford Law School.This spring marks the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, in which the Supreme Court considered the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.” The Court unanimously interpreted the Amendment as requiring that states provide attorneys for defendants who lack the resources to hire them privately. The “noble ideal” that “every defendant stands equal before the law,” Justice Hugo Black’s opinion declared, “cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him.” Given an attorney for his retrial, Clarence Gideon was acquitted.Today, the vast majority of felony defendants depend on appointed counsel to represent them, and the quality of representation varies wildly.
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