January 25, 2012
By a surprisingly unanimous vote, the Supreme Court this week ruled that police must obtain a warrant before attaching a tracking device to a car or other vehicle. The decision is a welcome affirmation of the constitutional right to privacy in an era of advanced technology. But the majority opinion's rationale was needlessly narrow. Whether there is a broad right to freedom from new kinds of intrusive electronic surveillance remains to be answered. The case involved the conviction of Antoine Jones, a suspected drug dealer in the District of Columbia who was arrested after being monitored for 28 days by a global positioning system device surreptitiously attached to his Jeep by law enforcement agents without a warrant.
October 5, 2011 |
The Supreme Court appeared unusually sympathetic Tuesday to the plight of an Alabama death row inmate who could be executed because two lawyers handling his appeal had left their law firm without telling him. When a court clerk sent a letter to their prominent New York firm, Sullivan & Cromwell, advising the young lawyers that Cory Maples' initial appeal had been denied, it was returned marked: "Return to sender — left firm. " The 42-day deadline to appeal then expired. At that point, Alabama's state prosecutors and judges took a stiff stand.
June 5, 2011
Looking at Liu Re "Impaired judgment," Opinion, June 1 There is a reason that attacks like those made on Goodwin Liu, who recently asked that his nomination to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals be withdrawn, are called "Borking. " This horrible process began with the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's bizarre attack on Robert Bork, a recognized constitutional scholar whom President Reagan nominated to the Supreme Court. Ever since then, federal court nominees have been targeted by ideological opponents of the administration nominating them.
January 27, 2011
By a unanimous vote, the Supreme Court has ruled that contract employees at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory must undergo the same background checks ? including questions about drug abuse and treatment ? that are required of government employees. The decision is defensible on the grounds of consistency, and such checks are a long-established feature of both public and private employment. But privacy advocates still have reason to cheer this decision. The court could have held that people have no right to withhold personal information from the government, but most of the justices declined to do so. Instead, in his majority opinion, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. assumed for the purposes of argument that Americans have a constitutional right to "informational privacy" that limits what the government can require of them.
January 25, 2011 |
Six Supreme Court justices are expected to attend President Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday, amid growing concern over the politicization of the nation's high court. A court spokesman would not identify which of the panel's nine justices would attend, but it appeared likely that Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas would be the three to skip the president's speech. Alito, who shook his head in disagreement as Obama spoke last year, had accepted an offer to teach law classes in Hawaii this week.
June 29, 2010 |
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that cities and states must abide by the 2nd Amendment, strengthening the rights of gun owners and opening courthouse doors nationwide for gun rights advocates to argue that restrictions on firearms are unconstitutional. In a 5-4 decision, the justices said the right to have a handgun for self-defense is "fundamental from an American perspective [and] applies equally to the federal government and the states." The high court overturned 19th century rulings that said the 2nd Amendment restricted only federal gun laws, not local or state measures.