Supremes Save Best for Last
They are both brilliant and dramatic, your Supreme Court justices, because year after year, like television network executives, they leave the biggest and most contentious and most interesting cases for the very end of their term, the "sweeps" period of the judicial year. For as long as anyone can remember, the last week of June generates from the courthouse the water-cooler rulings that fuel the big law review articles as well as the gastro-rumblings of federal and state legislators.
This year is no different. Amid much hype and speculation, the Justices issued five rulings today but did not yet tip their hands on the two cases-- the legitimacy of Tom Delay's redistricting plans in Texas and the constitutionality of the procedures the government wants to use in military tribunals for Guantanamo Bay detainees-- that most everyone cares about. I know. I know. Each time the Court resolves a case it's a big deal and has national implications, etc. But there are cases that people remember 10 years later and there are cases-- like the ones issued today-- that people will have forgotten about by the Fourth of July.
In one case, the Justices made it easier for employees to get money from employers who retalitate against them after they allege discrimination. In another case, the Court shifted to criminal defendants the burden of proof and persuasion when they claim they were coerced into doing an illegal act. Before the ruling, the government had to prove a negative-- that defendants were not coerced. The Justices also issued an immigration ruling that may or may not figure into the political debate over that topic in the run-up to the elections this fall. There was also a prisoners' rights ruling and a ruling about patents. Niche cases, you might say.
So now we are down to the final week. Guantanamo and redistricing; one case that has the eyes of the world upon it and the other that has the eyes of Congress on it. All that's missing from these season enders is the incessant television promotion and the 1-800 number so you can cast your vote.
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Posted by: Steve Rappoport | June 22, 2006 04:28 PM
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