November 23, 2003
Rosemary Muller and Joy Fisher
The United States Supreme Court
This was an excellent meeting. Rosemary Muller is a former
HAGSA member who used to give us annual reports on recent and pending
decisions of the United States Supreme Court. With this meeting, we were
trying to bring back this tradition. She was assisted in this effort by
Joy Fisher, a practicing attorney.
Rosemary and Joy passed out summary sheets covering many
of the cases they mentioned. They covered five kinds of cases: equality,
free speech, criminal law, federal authority, and business. Each of the
speakers gave a summary of cases of a particular type and the other
continued with the next type.
The highlight for Joy Fisher was
Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned a Texas sodomy law and reversed an
earlier decision by the Court on the same subject. Years ago, in Europe,
Joy had questioned Justice Anthony M. Kennedy about the decision in the
earlier case. It is interesting that he changed sides when Lawrence v.
Texas was decided. He and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor are regarded as the
swing votes on the Court. The "liberal" wing consists of John Paul
Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David H. Souter and Stephen Breyer. The
"conservative" members are Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Chief
Justice William H. Rehnquist.
We were also given a preview of upcoming cases.1
U.S. v. Newdow is one with which we are all familiar. Among others, there
is a challenge to the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Law and one
that will determine if American judges have jurisdiction over the
detention of terrorist suspects who are detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
prepared by Wayne Luney, HAGSA Recorder
Rosemary and Joy discussed a total of six upcoming cases:
U.S. v. Newdow. This
is the case in which Dr. Michael Newdow challenged the use of the
phrase, "under God," in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Tennessee v. Lane.
This case asks whether state governments must comply with Title II of
the Americans with Disabilities Act, which mandates that disabled
people be given equal access to "services, programs and activities."
Vieth v. Jubelirer.
This case asks whether and when partisan gerrymandering2
violates equal protection.
McConnell v. Federal
Election Commission. This is a massive case, challenging
provisions of the bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002, also
known as the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Law, that may
dramatically transform the rules of political debate in the U.S.
Locke v. Davey. This
is an Oregon case that asks whether states that give college
scholarship grants must allow the grant money to be used for theology
education at religious institutions.
Al-Odah v. U.S. and
Rasul v. Bush. These two cases ask whether U.S. judges have
jurisdiction to hear cases involving the detention by the U.S. of
terrorist suspects at Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
2 Drawing of district lines
to maximize the electoral advantage of a political party or faction. The
term was first used in 1812, when Elbridge Gerry was Governor of
Massachusetts, to characterize that state's redistricting plan.
prepared by Bill Potts, based on summary sheet handout
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