Posts Tagged: ‘Supreme Court’

On May 18, 1970, Jack Baker and Michael McConnell walked into the Hennepin County courthouse in Minneapolis, Minnesota, intending to obtain a marriage license. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Baker already had been fired from an air force base for being openly gay, but the rampant anti-LGBT discrimination and harassment of the era didn’t hold him back from attempting to marry his partner. The license was denied, and a Hennepin County judge upheld the decision with a nod to the Bible: “The institution of marriage as a union of man and woman, uniquely involving the procreation and rearing of children within a family, is as old as the Book of Genesis.”

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On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a California law that would’ve banned the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. In a 7-2 decision, the Court decided that not only are video games protected under the First Amendment, they also should be treated the same way as other forms of speech: “Like protected books, plays and movies, [video games] communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. And the basic freedoms of speech … do not vary with a new and different communication medium.”

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In a matter of weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court could very well decide to make a California law regulating violent video games — and banning their sale to minors — the law of the land. As Tracy mentioned in her news roundup of the case last November, there are three basic questions before the Court: Are violent video games protected by the First Amendment? Is it constitutional to ban their sale to otherwise law-abiding minors? Along the way, the Court may have to definitively answer the trickiest question of all: Are these video games obscene?

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The Cato Institute has a blog post from Michael F. Cannon entitled, “Why Some People Think NPR Exhibits Bias.” I can’t tell if he’s being facetious or just generous by including “Some People Think” in his title.

He cites a reporter using the Bush-era tactic used to name the USA Patriot Act (e.g., the, “What you don’t like America?” method of shaping public opinion). The reporter called a campaign finance reform lobbyist a “good-government lobbyist” twice, points out Cannon, meaning she’s working against the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

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For an hour this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association. The central question in the case is whether, like pornography, violent video games are not protected as free speech under the first amendment, and whether a law banning the sale of these games to minors is constitutional.

Considering that today is Election Day, there’s a surprising amount of coverage in the press. Here’s the cream of the crop.

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This article makes the claim that 66% of Americans cannot name a single sitting Supreme Court justice…

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Yesterday, Barack Obama announced that Elena Kagan was his pick to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. Cristen and I have discussed the issue of female judges on Stuff Mom Never Told You, so I was intrigued and interested to learn more about Obama’s pick.

This blog entry is not about whether Kagan should or should not be confirmed to the Supreme Court. It’s about how people are reacting to her appointment, and I think that this reaction shows just how far women have to go in the world of politics.

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So you may have heard about the Supreme Court’s recent decision to reverse longstanding limitations that banned corporations from directly contributing financially in elections. It’s kind of a big deal.

As reported in the Washington Post, for a few decades now, corporations have been limited to contributing to political action committees, which have set limits of $5,000 per calendar year, and kept corporations away from contributing to a candidate directly. Of course, there are always loopholes: Corporations have a way of strongly suggesting to its rising stars that contributing to a certain campaign would probably be good for the old career. Maybe even those employees’ bonuses later in the year will reflect an additional amount of the same sum they contributed. So you’ve got a few execs writing $5,000 checks to a Political Action Committee. It’s disingenuous, but tolerable. The limits for individual campaigns are even narrower: $2,400 per candidate, per election.

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It’s been nearly six years since Savana Redding was strip-searched at school in Safford, Ariz. When Savana was 13 years old, a fellow student informed the vice principal that she had pills in her possession — school rules mandated that students had to have a formal note that accompanied all medication, whether prescription or OTC. The pills in question were prescription-strength 400-milligram ibuprofen.

She was escorted from class to the vice principal’s office, where she denied the accusation, then waited for two hours before two women (the vice principal’s assistant and the school nurse) strip-searched her. CNN quotes from an affadavit in which Savana described it as “the most humiliating experience I have ever had.”

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Justice Souter recently addressed the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, like he’s done every year since joining the Supreme Court in 1990. But given that this was the first speech he’s given since last week’s announcement that he’s retiring, it made for an especially emotional event this time around. Although he only spoke for 14 minutes, he shared a surprising viewpoint about judges’ impact on history.

For some context, David Souter was tapped for the country’s highest bench by George H. W. Bush. But, that’s not to say he’s always handed down opinions that cohere with conservative justices like Clarence Thomas, another Supreme Court Justice chosen by Bush 1. Like President Obama has said, according to USA Today, Souter has “consistently defied labels and rejected absolutes.” A biography from the Oyez Project calls him “quirky” and “a man of unusual and peculiar sensibilities” who has faced criticism from both left and right political groups.

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