COURT ROUNDUP

As I’m sure has been blogged to death by now, the Supreme Court has issued several controversial rulings in its last day of this session, most notably overturning the Texas sodomy law and reversing itself in Bowers v. Hardwick.

There’s not much new to say about the sodomy ruling, since I wrote a lot about it during the whole Santorum flap. Essentially, I agree with the public policy outcome here but think this is horrendously poor Constitutional interpretation. And, in light of the Michigan rulings Monday, further evidence that the claims that this is somehow a “conservative” court–in either sense of that word–are laughable. The text of the opinions, including dissents, is available via FindLaw.

Many of the other rulings released today are interesting, although they’ll likely get buried in the glee over the sex case.

The Court appears to have greatly strengthened the 6th Amendment right to counsel, by overturning a death sentence on grounds of an incompetent attorney. I’ll have to read more on this one before making firm judgments, but on its surface I agree with the notion behind the ruling but am concerned about the practical implications.

In a ruling that will make many Catholic clerics dance for joy, the Court struck down a California law that moves the statute of limitations for old sex crimes. This seems like a no-brainer to me, so I’m surprised that it was 5-4.

In yet another 5-4 ruling, the Court allowed more tinkering with Congressional districts on racial grounds than had previously been thought permissible. Again, I’ll need to read more to have much to say on this one. Interesing, nonetheless, especially in light of the Michigan rulings.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Paul says:

    .. by overturning a death sentence on grounds of an incompetent attorney. I’ll have to read more on this one…

    I think they got this one right… The guy’s background was irrelevant to his guilt or innocence but it should have come up in sentencing. (so says even this hopeless right winger)

    …struck down a California law that moves the statute of limitations

    I was dumbfounded this was 5-4. Does their law dictionary not include the term “ex post facto.” The court already screwed this up on the civil side.

    In yet another 5-4 ruling, the Court allowed more tinkering with Congressional districts on racial grounds

    Once again giving legal approval to descrimination and moving the supreme court to the role of nanny and not jurisprudence.

    (My laymans 2 cents.)

  2. O. F. Jay says:

    Do they ever vote on something big with a 9-0 for or against? Or must someone always be the brave dissenting voice?

  3. James Joyner says:

    Jay: They used to vote 9-0 routinely on the civil rights cases, but that has been a few decades. For the most part, cases difficult enough to make it to the Supremes tend to be 6-3 or 5-4.