Conservatives go 4-4 today at the Supreme Court

Let's stay with our baseball theme today.

Legal and political conservatives hit for the cycle Monday morning when they "won" four long-awaited rulings from the United States Supreme Court. The Justices further chipped away at the wall that separates church and state, took some of the steam out of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, neutered federal regulators in environmental cases to the benefit of developers and slammed a high school kid who had the temerity to put up a silly sign near his high school.

Each of these decisions help establish the true conservative bona fides of this Court. It is more conservative than it was last term, when Sandra Day O'Connor sat in one some of the cases. And was more conservative last term than the term before that, before Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Sam Alito joined the Gang of Nine. In fact, the Court now is is so entrenched on the ground of the legal right that, aside from the global warming case decided earlier this year, it is hard to point to a single major ruling this term that could or would give succor to legal liberals or even jurisprudential moderates.

I'm not talking about the technical cases that make up the bulk of the Court's workload-- in those cases there was plenty of unanimity. I'm talking about the hot-button cases that get people talking. Whether it was the Court's dramatic limitations on the rights of employees to seek legal remedies for past employment discrimination-- part of a larger trend of pro-business rulings from the Justices-- or the about-face on the Congressional effort to ban a type of abortion, court conservatives were consistently able to muster up five votes-- thanks to the most important swingman since Benny Goodman, Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Indeed, so strong is the conservative bent to the court right now that even when its right-facing Justices did not agree on the legal reasons or rationale for their rulings-- which was the case in the religion case noted above-- they are able to agree to promote government sponsorship of religion and to block taxpayer efforts to prevent it. In other words, there is room for dissent even among the Court's working majority-- a bad sign for liberal judges, lawyers and litigants in the months and years to come.

People can and do and will disagree about the "correctness" of these rulings-- but no one should have any doubt now that President George W. Bush's campaign promise-- to take the Supreme Court to the right-- has been fulfilled. That question is no longer open to argument and you need only to take a few minutes to read today's rulings to understand why.

By Andrew Cohen |  June 25, 2007; 11:17 AM ET
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Comments

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What exactly is a "conservative" these days?

As best I can tell it means: a "strict constructionist" who literally applies the clear letter of the Constitution except in cases involving friends, interests of friends, patron's friends, friend's clients, lobbying interests of my patron's friends, lobbying interests and industries of which "I" "Conservative" justice was once a member/employee, etc.

i.e. Lochner Era redux.

Posted by: JP2 | June 25, 2007 12:45 PM

A much-needed victory for common-sense...way to go guys (and gal)!!!

Posted by: John | June 25, 2007 01:46 PM

The Carhart decision did not overturn Roe. Some liberals and moderates must be satisfied with that. If the court were truly as "conservative" as you say, Roe and Casey would no longer be good law.

In fact Carhart (and Kennedy's view of Casey) are probably what most mean by "moderate" with respect to the Court. It allows some restrictions on abortion but not outright bans. Just because the 5 non-liberals are together on an issue doesn't make it a "conservative" ruling.

Posted by: Adam C | June 25, 2007 01:52 PM

They were right about the right to sue if one is a taxpayer. Had they ruled otherwise, the whole system would become unworkable, because ANYONE could sue about ANYTHING and the courts would be completely tied up.

Posted by: potobac | June 25, 2007 01:53 PM

Conservatives? Have any of the 5 ever heard of a fellow named Madison and a fellow named jefferson?

Posted by: jim oneill | June 25, 2007 01:54 PM

Who says the money changers can't take control all three branches of government? So much for "checks and balances".

Posted by: DEF | June 25, 2007 01:56 PM

The only common sense ruling today is in the infamous judge's pants case.

Posted by: chi-town | June 25, 2007 01:56 PM

This is nothing but a natural correction of the court's past leftward drift...

Posted by: James | June 25, 2007 01:56 PM

another victory for "Old America"

Posted by: david | June 25, 2007 02:02 PM

With this court and president and vice hitler, when will we get the Neurenberg laws enacted here? Our congress sure doesn't have the guts to standf up for freedom. How can we bring democracy to the middle east when we are destroying it here?

Posted by: msjn | June 25, 2007 02:04 PM

Fascinating that all four of today's SCOTUS decisions are 5-4. It's hard not to recall Roberts' now-discarded emphasis on forging consensus and unanimity. In a January feature in The Atlantic, Jeffrey Rosen wrote: "In Roberts's view, the most successful chief justices help their colleagues speak with one voice. Unanimous, or nearly unanimous, decisions are hard to overturn and contribute to the stability of the law and the continuity of the Court; by contrast, closely divided, 5-4 decisions make it harder for the public to respect the Court as an impartial institution that transcends partisan politics." Oh well.

Posted by: MatthewB | June 25, 2007 02:08 PM

Jim, yeah they've heard of them (Tom esp could be rather radical), but they know better!

Posted by: Zal | June 25, 2007 02:12 PM

The Scalia / Thomas opinion on free speech for students is pretty terrifying. They advocate a complete dismissal of Tinker as the law of the land. Here is a sample quote from their opinion:

"In my view, the history of public education suggests that the First Amendment, as originally understood, does not protect student speech in public schools."

Here's hoping my kids never have to live in that kind of country...

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 02:14 PM

John: Common sense? They exemplify what the American common person thinks? This is so weird. Can you prove this silent American common majority existed in the U.S. before 1970?

Posted by: Nate | June 25, 2007 02:15 PM

God help us.

Posted by: John Paul | June 25, 2007 02:18 PM

Matthew, whenever I hear people talking of consensus I am convinved they are full of you know what. Truth (as far as one can gather all the relevant information)

I knew Roberts was an actor from the getgo, before he was confirmed-yeah he has nice looking degrees, but it shows how little effect a Harvard education after the 60's can come to have-the distinguished, scholarly pose had me literally rolling on the floor laughing.

Posted by: Bernie Sanders | June 25, 2007 02:21 PM

Andrew, that was funny about Benny by the way. Good to know you have some music knowledge.

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 02:22 PM

Uh yeah James, two extremes (of probably different magnitudes) are a natural "correction". Get a clue, dude; you actually might have passed your classes too, that's the sad thing.

Posted by: Dan | June 25, 2007 02:24 PM

The only real good the Roberts' Court will produce is that the infernally unimpressed political middle might decide that "strict constructionist judges" and "textualists" are bad for our Constitutional System and decide its time for liberal judge who live in the 21st Century rather than those who pine for the dimly lit 18th Century.

Posted by: Kevin | June 25, 2007 02:25 PM

The only real good the Roberts' Court will produce is that the infernally unimpressed political middle might decide that "strict constructionist judges" and "textualists" are bad for our Constitutional System and decide its time for liberal judge who live in the 21st Century rather than those who pine for the dimly lit 18th Century.

Posted by: Kevin | June 25, 2007 02:26 PM

Posted by: JP2 | June 25, 2007 02:26 PM

The only real good the Roberts' Court will produce is that the infernally unimpressed political middle might decide that "strict constructionist judges" and "textualists" are bad for our Constitutional System and decide its time for liberal judge who live in the 21st Century rather than those who pine for the dimly lit 18th Century.

Posted by: Kevin | June 25, 2007 02:26 PM

So let me get this straight. The First Amendment doesn't protect speech (high school kid) but does allow the federal government to fund religion. Geez, I have to go back to law school and take a refresher course.

Posted by: Brian | June 25, 2007 02:33 PM

We have to accept that 5-4 decisions are going to be the norm for some time to come. Maybe I don't like it but it is the reality and the legacy of the Bush era. However, this effort by the far right will backfire eventually. My opinion is that it will drive young people away from the right and the land will become more moderate in time...just as the conservatives rose during the Clinton years.

Posted by: mattr | June 25, 2007 02:39 PM

You have to love the reasoning on Establishment Clause standing.

6 of the 9 justices understood the obvious -- either you apply Flaust to the case or you overturn Flaust -- there is absolutely no real difference between the Faith-Based Initiatives being run as a Congressional line item or as a Executive general administrative program.

2 of the judges [Scalia / Thomas] wanted to eliminate Flaust so that no citizen can sue if Congress decides to implement a state religion. 4 of the judges [the 'liberal' block'] thought that Flaust should continue to stand.

Roberts led a 'middle way' in which Flaust still stands but somehow doesn't apply in this case -- which makes no sense at all.

Sad.

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 02:40 PM

Hopefully rightwing Supreme Court decisions will hurt the Repubs with voters the way leftwing decisions hurt the Dems.

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 02:45 PM

" IS SCOTUS THE PLURAL OF SCROTUM ? "
" TEEN SEX 4 JESUS "
" FREE...COULTER'S CREME BRULEE FOR SCOTUS "
" MY PENIS GOT AN 'F' IN ABSTINENCE "

Any more nonsense sign suggestions for students to march with....and you all know they will, beacuse of this ruling.

Posted by: goofticket | June 25, 2007 02:48 PM

I hope the Dems have a effort in place to identify potential judges as far to left as Bush's are to the right. Young, healthy, and radical leftist. Then when Pres. Clinton takes office with a Dem Senate, she can commence to packing the federal courts.

Posted by: Garak | June 25, 2007 02:49 PM

"So let me get this straight. The First Amendment doesn't protect speech (high school kid) but does allow the federal government to fund religion."

It appears that the new ruling block see themselves more as 'Just-us's' as opposed to 'Justices' -- easy mistake to make...

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 02:50 PM

Let me get this straight, conservatives have a good year on the court, media despair. There is clearly no media bias at work. I would have far greater repect for Cohen etc if they simply premised their reporting with - we support the constitutional ideas of the Stevens wing of the court.

Posted by: RHJ 1954 | June 25, 2007 02:55 PM

The theocratic rulers of Iran arrest women for exposing their hands and face and nothing else in public. Yet the liberals want us to find common ground with them because standing up for human rights in that context could mean actually having to sacrifice something and not just blabbering. Same in Iraq where Saddam fed dead children to dogs while their mother watched and let his sons roam the countryside, raping at will. Where was the liberal outcry? The same place it was over Rwanda. Nowhere. After all, none of Saddam's atrocities aired on CNN- purposefully, as CNN news chief admitted in the NYTimes the day after Saddam was deposed. Saddam might have hurt a CNN reporter and brave journalists that they are they couldn't have that.

Liberals instead raise their voices in opposition to a decision that says schools can prohibit smart-ass behavior during school time.

If the student in question wants to advocate "bong hits for Jesus" he is free to do it on his own time and even in appropriate school forums such as the school newspaper or a writing assignment. Or he can write High Times or the Nation.

But that's not a good solution for him because he does not truly want to advocate anything. (If I'm wrong, maybe he can rally support by making a cogent argument for 'bong hits for Jesus' so that supporters will demand that school time be given over to the subject.)

Really, he just wants to be able to disrupt the learning atmosphere that adults created. He's a rebel without a cause. He is free to rebel on his own time. Schools need not turn anarchic because a few smart-asses want them to.

Posted by: Chicago | June 25, 2007 02:55 PM

What Kevin, is "textuality" without situational context of any real meaning? Was the language used when the Framers wrote it not possible to comprehend, so that we need someone "living in the 21'st century"? Historical anachronism? You can't just read something from a different place and time, and go, I can just read it without making any effort myself, they're just like us, ah the universality. For something written in a different context, to have any chance of getting close to what it intended you have to know their world and situation, so that a remotely accurate "translation" of the intention/spirit to our often different situations (no fault of the Framers, and anything but invalidating certain "social contract" principles) is even possible.

Posted by: Vaginalgourmet | June 25, 2007 03:13 PM

Many, many conservatives backed Fredricks in the Bong Hits case and filed amicus briefs to prove it.

The Hein case "chipped away" at no "wall." FFRF was making the absolutely ludicrous argument that the government should exclude people of faith from any discussion of available grants. Others were invited to the conference, so relgious groups should not have been excluded. Just because an atheist is "offended" by a conversation doesn't give him the right to sue in federal court simply because he's a taxpayer. I guess Mr. Cohen believes that the First Amendment requires that the government treat people of faith as second-class citizens with fewer privileges than secularists.

If Cohen loves the First Amendment so much, how could he support McCain-Feingold, one of the most vicious attacks on free speech in this nation's history?

Let me get this straight -- a stupid prank banner at a school event is inviolably protected speech, but political speech during a political season should be regulated and even silenced? What speech were the Founders hoping to protect with the ratification of the First Amendment? That's right, political and social speech. What a hypocritical position for Cohen to take.

(BTW -- I think the SCOTUS was wrong in Bong Hits (I am one of those EVIL conservatives...but wait I disagree with this "conservative" ruling...I've gotten myself so confused haven't I...after all, Cohen has instructed me on how to think.) and correct in Hein and WI Right to Life. My call-out of Cohen was simply to point out HIS inconsistency.)

Posted by: Chet Lemon | June 25, 2007 03:13 PM

RHJ - this is an OPINION COLUMN. Not the news section. Therefore, opinions (i.e., not objective reporting, but biased articulations of one's perceptions of events) are to be expected here. Learn to read the newspaper and differentiate between what is straight news reporting and what constitutes the opinion of a columnist.

Posted by: csmiller | June 25, 2007 03:14 PM

>>I hope the Dems have a effort in place to identify potential judges as far to left as Bush's are to the right.<<

That's not right either. Solid moderates would be much better.

Posted by: Irene | June 25, 2007 03:15 PM

"After all, none of Saddam's atrocities aired on CNN"

Are you on crack? I distinctly remember the pictures of Halabja on CNN in '89. Where was the conservative outcry? Oh yeah, eleven years later when Bush had an election to win. Cynical? Nah...
If you could put your liberal-hatred aside for a moment, maybe you wouldn't sound ridiculous. And as far as sacrificing, how much of a tax hike are you willing shoulder to pay for Bush's war? That's real sacrifice.

Posted by: Strangely Enough | June 25, 2007 03:19 PM

How many years, administrations and Supreme Court opinions will it take to undue such pernicious and irreperable damage to the Constitution from by eight years of W?

Posted by: Ross W Johnson | June 25, 2007 03:19 PM

Somehow my second sentence (not that it was of earthshaking significance) wasn't completed: just that, Truth (as far as one can gather the relevant information) and principle aren't a matter of consensus, but may be a minority. To have consensus as some predetermined end shows me right away that the speaker has presumptions with which I don't at all agree.

Posted by: Bernie | June 25, 2007 03:20 PM

RHJ 1954 I can't speak for Cohen, but I come back to the question what does the term "Conservative" mean?

What exactly does that mean?

If you say "Conservative" equals applying the clear letter of the law consistent with precedents (near and far), then these justices would not be considered especially "Conservative". It seems that there is an awful lot of personal preference being inserted into those 5 to 4 majority opinions.

Posted by: JP2 | June 25, 2007 03:26 PM

Kevin, why was the 18th century dimly lit?
Much more narcisstic darkness in the 20th, and so far in the 21st. Less figuratively, with much less pollution, sunshine was also more nourishing. I'll pine, thank you.

Chet: How could Feingold support "one of the most VICIOUS attacks on free speech in this nation's history (!!!!)" I don't even know how that would be possible. It's contrary to whatever I know about the guy.

Posted by: Aaron | June 25, 2007 03:30 PM

RHJ 1954: In case you hadn't noticed, this piece is in the o-p-i-n-i-o-n section of the Washington Post. If you'd like to read, view, or hear opinions that blindly support conservative talking points, go to the Journal, the Wash Times, Fox News, any number of talk radio stations, or really any mainstream news outlet. It's like your own all-you-can-eat buffet. Unlimited trips for you sir! Knock yourself out.

Posted by: A little Common Sense | June 25, 2007 03:33 PM

Chicago has it just "right": smart asses need not apply for free speech; it' just for the "right" people to use.

Posted by: digitusmedius | June 25, 2007 03:33 PM

As for CNN - go read Jordan Eason's oped in the New York Times. He gives the mea culpa there - after the time passed when his vaunted journalists could have done some good.

As for whether smart-asses have the right to free speech: as I wrote in my initial message, yes they do. They just don't have the right to smart-ass behavior at a time when the educators at the school have decided on a different program.

Posted by: Chicago | June 25, 2007 03:39 PM

This court will not be satisfied until the Southern Baptist Convention takes over the National Cathedral and is completely funded by the taxpayers, until women are barred from holding any jobs except teaching and child-rearing, until all school children are forced to get down on their knees and pray to the Christian god every day before they stand and pray to the flag, and until all peoples of color are confined to their own neighborhoods and schools and not allowed to mix with or breed with the white race, unless they have an income of at least a million dollars a year. The Republican Party wants nothing more than to drag us back to the 1950s and install a miliary dictatorship in this country, where only the rich have privledges and where the rest of us better shut up and do as we are told for our own good. Next from the court will be a law that the government can use taxpayer dollars to help corporations move their factories to China, because George Bush said it was a good thing. The conservative wing of the Supreme Court is made up of a bunch of whipping boy lackeys who hope to make the big time by sucking up to the wealthy. The idea that conservatives would only follow the constitution while the liberals make up the law as they go is a lie, and this court is the proof.

Posted by: Chagasman | June 25, 2007 03:41 PM

Oh that's RICH, Mr. Limon, the First Amendment is supposed to protect speech, but only political and social speech. HA HA HA. Why would, say, Justice Holmes even state the curtailment he did, and that somewhat apologetically, if it only applied to "political and social speech"?

In a somewhat different context (but similar reasoning), the Nazis said yeah we believe in the brotherhood of man etc..but the outcasts aren't real people so they aren't covered, and so anything goes (one instance among several glaring ones of identical reasoning in this administration)!You guys have some great influences for your strategies!

Posted by: Martin | June 25, 2007 03:41 PM

Aaron--

The "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002" is also known as McCain-Feingold AND is one of the most hideous constitutional atrocities ever visited on the American people.

I was asking how Cohen could be so scandalized by Morse, yet support the above-mentioned totalitarian legislation. Totally inconsistent.

Posted by: Chet Lemon | June 25, 2007 03:41 PM

Also - Conservatives were calling out against Saddam's human rights violations long before George W. Bush ran for President the first time. Either your memory is faulty on this point or you never bothered to check. Just for pointing out Saddam's atrocities, many were called war-mongers. It's far easier to criticize the human rights violations of leaders who won't kill you for criticizing them. Conservatives were criticizing Saddam when it was still dangerous to do so.

Posted by: Chicago | June 25, 2007 03:44 PM

Martin--

You obviously have a problem with reading comprehension. Re-read my entire comment, understand it properly and then return to the board with your tail properly between your legs.

Posted by: Chet Lemon | June 25, 2007 03:46 PM

"Conservatives were criticizing Saddam when it was still dangerous to do so."

Um, yeah. Right. It's never been dangerous to criticize Saddam. Ever. Let's not get too carried away with praising the conservative record on eliminating tyranny. Seems to me there are still many tyrannical regimes in the world, just not any sitting on top of vast oil reserves. Spare us the conservative sanctimony, please.

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 03:51 PM

I am a liberal Democrat and First Amendment radical, but I do think that when you take the school speech case and the political advertising cases together the court comes down more on the side of free speech than a lot of "results oriented" people are suggesting.

The school case was decided on unusual facts; the speech in issue was outside on the street rather than in school. The unusual facts led two members of the majority (Alito and Kennedy) to write a concurrence essentially limiting the ruling to its facts. There is little question that, had the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" sign been unfurled in school rather than on the street, there would not likely have been a case. So the decision is not to further restrict most schools' rules on student speech (though I do believe it was wrongly decided).

On the other hand, the ruling on the Feingold law strikes a major blow for political speech, which is at the core of First Amendment protection. I urge my pro-choice friends to put aside, for the moment, the fact that the case was brought by the pro-lifers, and appreciate the fact that this aspect of McCain-Feingold is flagrantly unconstitutional. A prior restraint on political speech, however well-intentioned, should never be permitted.

Posted by: Meridian | June 25, 2007 04:03 PM

I am a liberal Democrat and First Amendment radical, but I do think that when you take the school speech case and the political advertising cases together the court comes down more on the side of free speech than a lot of "results oriented" people are suggesting.

The school case was decided on unusual facts; the speech in issue was outside on the street rather than in school. The unusual facts led two members of the majority (Alito and Kennedy) to write a concurrence essentially limiting the ruling to its facts. There is little question that, had the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" sign been unfurled in school rather than on the street, there would not likely have been a case. So the decision is not to further restrict most schools' rules on student speech (though I do believe it was wrongly decided).

On the other hand, the ruling on the Feingold law strikes a major blow for political speech, which is at the core of First Amendment protection. I urge my pro-choice friends to put aside, for the moment, the fact that the case was brought by the pro-lifers, and appreciate the fact that this aspect of McCain-Feingold is flagrantly unconstitutional. A prior restraint on political speech, however well-intentioned, should never be permitted.

Posted by: Meridian | June 25, 2007 04:03 PM

It's way off topic, but I can't let Chicago's comments slide either.

"Conservatives were criticizing Sadaam when it was dangerous to do so."

When exactly was that? What time frame?

Are we talking about the early and mid 1980s when Conservatives in the White House were selling Iraq arms and giving Sadaam assistance with his chemical weapons program? Or the silence and inaction of the Reagan administration when Sadaam gassed the Kurds?

Perhaps you are talking about 1998 when "conservatives" (NeoCons excepted) accused Clinton of "wagging the dog" when he launched cruise missiles, which effectively destroyed the remnants of Sadaam's remaining WMD program?

And when is it ever "dangerous" to speak an opinion in this country? Limbaugh has turned this so-called "dangerous" cannard into a multi-million dollar industry. Try doing that in a society where it really is "dangerous" to speak unpleasant truths to the powerful.

Posted by: JP2 | June 25, 2007 04:21 PM

Why do liberals persist in ignoring the legal issues in these cases and just look at the ramifications of the ruling to decide if it was a conservative or liberal ruling? (One answer is that liberal judges start with the ramifications and then back into the legal rationale). The mean conservatives did not issue a "pro-business" ruling. The issue was: When Congress says you have to file the EEOC complaint within 180 days of the occurrence of discrimination does that mean you have to file the EEOC complaint within 180 days of occurrence? Incredibly the Court said 180 days means 180 days no matter if your dog ate the homework. Congress can change that by a simple vote. It's a statutory interpretation case, Mr. Cohen, not an opportunity for the Court to rewrite the laws. The reason you don't understand that is because that's what liberals think the Courts are supposed to do? Why , then, even have a legislative branch?

Posted by: tfitzgib | June 25, 2007 04:21 PM

It was dangerous to criticize Saddam if you lived in Iraq or had friends, family or political allies there. That's why CNN yielded its journalistic integrity.

In the end, it's not about labels like Conservative and Liberal. It's about doing the right thing. The anonymous poster who complains about Conservative sanctimony is right to question whether fighting for oil is the right thing. But that's not why we're in Iraq. If President Bush wanted cheap, easy oil, he would have left Saddam in power and made a deal with him as those such as Colin Powell advocated. This is the philosophy espoused by presidents like FDR and LBJ: "He may be a son-of-a-*****, but he's our son-of-a-b****." [The Post won't seem to post a comment with the word written out.] Those who favor human rights ought to praise President Bush for repudiating that immoral and ultimately ineffective policy.

Yes, many oil-rich dictatorships remain. But none invaded two neighbors, used chemical weapons of mass destruction and violated 17 specific UN resolutions over 12 years.

Posted by: Chicago | June 25, 2007 04:29 PM

--Kevin, why was the 18th century dimly lit?

Posted by: Aaron | June 25, 2007 03:30 PM

The 18th century saw the spread of the Great Shadow from France, where it was created by the Voltaire and the Encyclopedistes in 1685. This shadow came between European Man and his Father in Heaven,darkening the light of Faith that had illuminated the Continent since the conversion of the barbarians in the initial Early Medieval Age. By the time of the French Revolution, men were so blinded to Divine Providence that they murdered priests en masse. Once the Continent was blanketed by the shadow, even a great man like Joseph de Maistre could not bring it back into the Light of Faith.
At the same time, the English Channel slowed the spread of the Great Shadow. Our Declaration of Independence, with its talk of "unalienable rights" with which men are "endowed by their Creator" reflected the spirit of the Scottish Enlightenment, the spirit of Gosh-fearing Englishmen like Locke and pre-Great-Shadow Frenchmen like Montesquieu.

--Much more narcisstic darkness in the 20th, and so far in the 21st. Less figuratively, with much less pollution, sunshine was also more nourishing. I'll pine, thank you.
The 20th and 21st centuries have been darkened not only by the Great Shadow from France, but by its even thicker, soul-choking version from Germany. Feuerbach made fun of faith, slammed scripture, ripped religion and made believers out to be fools. Marx followed Feuerbach, and Nietzsche followed Marx. By the start of the 20th century, the switch was cocked to turn the lights out in Europe. It took Churchill, FDR and Reagan to roll back the godless, atheistic tyrannies that flourished under the Great Shadow. Still, the Shadow's effects persist in Europe -- most notably in Europeans' unwillingness to reproduce themselves in sustainable numbers. Imagine today's advances in cutting infant and maternal mortality, coupled with the Age of Faith's optimism about the glorious future. Why, European populations would be booming!

Who is going to bring the Light of Faith to the 21st century? It won't be the Europeans -- they are too far gone. It will have to be Christian America.

--Chet: How could Feingold support "one of the most VICIOUS attacks on free speech in this nation's history (!!!!)" I don't even know how that would be possible. It's contrary to whatever I know about the guy.

We have to remember what this case was all about. Wisconsin Right to Life wanted to show ads criticizing Senator Feingold for not supporting the confirmation of strict constructionist judges nominated by a Republican President. If such ads persuaded Wisconsin voters to vote against Mr. Feingold, he might have been replaced by a Senator who would confirm Supreme Court nominees unfriendly to the Right to Choose. Pretty soon, the Supreme Court would be chipping away at the Right to Choose. What's more important -- free speech or the Right to Choose?

Posted by: Republican | June 25, 2007 04:32 PM

Anyone who needed proof that Roberts and Alito are partisan hacks and not model justices who would simply "call balls and strikes" got it today with these contradictory rulings. Abortion protesters are entitled to free speech because 'the tie goes to free speech' while students get the shaft? Even though I agree with the first of the two rulings, this is absolutely absurd and these pricks need to be called on it, loud.

Posted by: Michael | June 25, 2007 04:34 PM

"Bong hits 4 jesus" was not a disruptive activity by a student on school grounds. It was a banner unveiled on the sidewalk of a public street.

The court had to conclude that students do not have free speech rights even outside the school to support this suspension. That should terrify all young people, and anyone who is concerned that clear and unequivocal right to free speech in a public forum no longer exists.

Posted by: lostrights | June 25, 2007 04:36 PM

I myself am also an advocate of virtually limitless free speech. However, I've always failed to understand the opposition to the McCain-Feingold act expressed by like minded people. While the legislation isn't perfect it works to curb the abuses large businesses and organizations are capable of because of the fact that we treat them as though they have the same rights as individual citizens. However, with the kind of money these organizations have they are capable of exercising these rights in ways far above and beyond that of the average person which the bill of rights is primarily intended to protect. In short I see it less of a limit on freedom and more as an attempt to fight the increasing instances of government enslaved to wealthy special interests that don't necessarily have the best interests of the country as a whole in mind.

Posted by: Some Idiot | June 25, 2007 04:37 PM

"Those who favor human rights ought to praise President Bush for repudiating that immoral and ultimately ineffective policy."

...to be replaced by an even more ineffective policy ________ (fill in the blank, because for the life of me I can't articulate what Bush's policy is). You're kidding yourself if you don't believe this war was driven by the need for oil. Mideast stability is crucial for the American economy and securing access to that oil us the #1 reason why we invaded Iraq. This was not a mission driven by some moralistic agenda regardless of what the administration says.

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 04:38 PM

I hope Sandra Day O'Conner is really enjoying her retirement because by the time she dies most of her rulings will be overturned.

Posted by: Roger | June 25, 2007 04:41 PM

Chicago so you weren't referring to "conservatives in the U.S.," but to those in Iraq. Which "conservatives" in Iraq in particular were you referring to?

Or are you saying that the "conservatives" in the U.S. who spoke out--something that I am still scratching my head about--were courageous because they put the lives of their friends in Iraq in danger? Your point makes absolutely no sense.

If you can somehow reconcile your statement with reality and then tie it back to the impact of "Conservative" justices on SCOTUS you will be a man truly worthy of being called a genius.

Posted by: JP2 | June 25, 2007 04:43 PM

So according to you Chicago, if in another country has some practice not even a law (and these claims of norms in Iran and Iraq are according to you)that on the face of it is different from our customs, (we'll make your assumption that univeral human rights and officially agreed and codified somewhere are the same as our professed personal habits, which may not even be our real personal habits ) that obligates us to "stand up" to meddle in someone else's affairs? How about other countries "stand up" and use that as a pretext to invade the US (remember the terrorists can find their way here if they aren't fought over there) at every human rights violation in the US, miscarriage by a police department, anything that someone somewhere thought wasn't given an appropriate legal punishment (those don't happen in the US?)?
And to you "just blabbering" is meaningless unless one "actually sacrifices something"? One only has a meaningful point of view if they physically sacrifice themselves (I'm sorry they think their life is so worthless that any cause not their affair and possibly questionable is worth it) ? It's sad that such a statement is now dignified (obscenely to me ) as "conservative" or "right-wing", when it sounds as if it came from a suicide bomber fanatic.
For something that IS a national crisis, such as a country bent on illegally invading another weaker one, that is what a world government (if the violation is as cut and dried as you say) is for.

Are you suggesting Iran should be invaded because women are supposed to wear a veil? And do you really think that is the reason of the current invasions in Iraq and Afghan (overthrowing the Taliban was a pretext after the fact)?
Where do you get your world view from? Comic books, 80's superheroes, wannabe GI JOE/Jane real American superhero?

As for this kid, don't know, what was this smart-ass behavior? I don't know what the situation was; schools don't need to pander to a troublemaker, but they don't need to be fascist either to preserve the respectable "atmosphere". It depends on what is construed as the "trouble".

Posted by: Cyrus | June 25, 2007 04:44 PM

All duly appointed--all vetted and well-roasted by the Senate--all constitutional. If the left can't take it--move to Canada like Baldwin after GW won re-election--oops--I forgot--Alec decided to stay here after all and entertain us with his fine parenting skills.

What the hey--you can all move to Canada, anyway. Send us some Moosehead once y'all settle in!

Posted by: Cassie'sDad | June 25, 2007 04:47 PM

"They just don't have the right to smart-ass behavior at a time when the educators at the school have decided on a different program."

Two points:

(1) The behavior was on a public street by a student who had not attended school that day.

(2) Scalia and Thomas in their concurring opinion explicitly state that they do not people public school students have *any* free speech rights.

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 04:53 PM

It pains me to observe that the gang of 4 "liberal" Supremes never fail to vote liberal. What happened to free judicial thought?

Posted by: RedStater | June 25, 2007 04:58 PM

"The Hein case "chipped away" at no "wall." FFRF was making the absolutely ludicrous argument that the government should exclude people of faith from any discussion of available grants. Others were invited to the conference, so relgious groups should not have been excluded. Just because an atheist is "offended" by a conversation doesn't give him the right to sue in federal court simply because he's a taxpayer. I guess Mr. Cohen believes that the First Amendment requires that the government treat people of faith as second-class citizens with fewer privileges than secularists."


Ummm, no.

The question is whether Flaust applies to the Executive branch [and whether Flaust should be the rule of the land]. In Flaust, the court has held that any taxpayer has standing to challenge Congressional appropriations designed to foster a state religion.

6 of the 9 justices agreed that Flaust should cover this scenario.

2 of those 6 believed Flaust should be over-turned [Scalia / Thomas].

3 of the 9 somehow were able to hold the opinion that Flaust should still be the rule of the land but that it shouldn't apply to Executive spending -- only to Congressional appropriations [which makes absolutely no sense].

Bottom line: 3 of the justices wanted to decide in favor of the Executive, but weren't willing to take the only obvious position [overturn Flaust] that would justify it.

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 04:58 PM

Mr. Lemon: you wrote "What speech were the Founders trying to protect with the ratification of the First Amendment? That's right, political and social speech." That's the part I was responding to (and which the assumption in my last sentence, slightly and consciously unwarranted I'll admit, was based on). Whatever the context to McCain-Feingold, if you meant the First Amendment protects free speech period, why say political and social speech?

Posted by: Martin | June 25, 2007 05:13 PM

"Two points: (1) The behavior was on a public street by a student who had not attended school that day. (2) Scalia and Thomas in their concurring opinion explicitly state that they do not people public school students have *any* free speech rights."

And exactly how did the student's behavior benefit the public discourse or benefit society? One essential question that gets lost in these discussion is "why is free speech important, and what exactly is it that our founding fathers were trying to make sure our society could do?"

I would suggest that it had nothing to do with our modern need for "self-expression" to feel good about ourselves. Coming out of the enlightenment, they recognized the importance of allowing people to seek truth and justice - society benefits when as many points of view as possible are allowed to compete in the public forum (and, as we too often forget, are allowed to die and be forgotten when they prove false).

Not all "speech" plays such a role. At a minimum, it must be coherent - meaningless babble may be amusing (I love Monty Python as much or more than the next man), but it does nothing to advance our intellectual or politcal development.

Protecting "smart-ass" behavior by an adolescent who wants attention simply does not have the same importance as protecting the right of the next Newton to challenge current science, or the next Thomas Payne to challenge our current political thinking.

We can talk "slippery slope" if you want, but please have the honestly to recognize that the case we're discussing is, by any reasonable reckoning, on the fringe.

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 05:22 PM

Where in the following does the first amendment establish a wall between church and state?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Before our constitution every British subject was required by law to be a member of the Church of England. This church was established and controlled by the Crown.

Our founding fathers had nothing against religion, just the forcible membership in a state sanctioned religion.

They didn't say that religious symbols were not to be placed on federal land, only that no one could be forced to practice any given religion.

Come on folks. Don't write into it what isn't there.

Posted by: First amendment | June 25, 2007 05:24 PM

"I hope Sandra Day O'Conner is really enjoying her retirement because by the time she dies most of her rulings will be overturned."

Curious - you say that as if it would be a bad thing.

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 05:24 PM

Lets get the facts right about "Bong Hits for Jesus." The banner was taken out on a school trip to witness the Olympic Torch Parade. It was a school outing. The banner was inappropriate and advocated drug use...period. If this young man was on his own time and wished to demonstrate all the power to him, but he wasnt. Would it be acceptable on a school outing at a MADD meeting for the student to take out a sign reading "Drinks on me."? Our is is just anything goes?

It is absurd the case went this high up the ladder. It was a school outing period.

Note the student was recently charged with selling marijuana on his college campus.

Posted by: Vinnie V | June 25, 2007 05:28 PM

"We can talk "slippery slope" if you want, but please have the honestly to recognize that the case we're discussing is, by any reasonable reckoning, on the fringe."

Yes, the student wasn't doing anything more than attempting to find some speech that would get him on the evening news.

As always, bad cases make bad laws.

In this case, you have two justices arguing that students have absolutely no 1st Amendment rights when in school, period. It doesn't matter what they are discussing and how intelligently they are doing it -- according to Scalia and Thomas any and all 1st Amendment rights are forfeit when they enter the schoolhouse.

3 other justices believe that the nonsensical message was advocating drug use -- and that additionally the public sidewalk was part of a 'school-sanctioned event' since other students were present -- and thus the school could regulate it.

One justice said it didn't matter, the school couldn't be sued so the whole point was moot.

Three judges said that free speech should have a little more deference in cases where the student is not being disruptive within the confines of the school.

Thus, the court ruled to increase the power of the state to censor citizens in a case in which no such determination was really needed. And this amounts to a 'conservative' ruling...

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 05:36 PM

"It was a school outing period."

Except that the student in question did not attend school that day -- he simply wished to participate in a community event.

"Note the student was recently charged with selling marijuana on his college campus."

And Miranda was a real SOB -- so should we eliminate Miranda rights?

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 05:39 PM

"Our founding fathers had nothing against religion, just the forcible membership in a state sanctioned religion."

Did you read the opinions? Did you read Madison's statement that in a free society the government may not 'force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment' of religion?

Right now in the US if Congress decided to do what the Executive office did and establish a Faith-Based Initiative to disburse federal funds to religious organizations, any US taxpayer would have standing to sue based on Flaust.

Somehow, three justices find it reasonable to allow the Executive office to do this without any avenue for the US taxpayer to object to the possible Establishment Clause issue.

Note: They didn't rule that the Faith-Based Initiative was constitutional -- all they said was that taxpayers couldn't challenge whether it was constitutional.

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 05:45 PM

Yes. Miranda should be eliminated absolutely.... sweetheart...please feel free to jump to the furthest and most radical conclusion. I was merely adding an additional point of reference to inform the readers about this young brave warrior of free speech.
Would you venture down the same slippery slope you fear here for free speech for gun rights in defending the 2nd amendment? Or as a strict constitutionalist do you see that amendment through the eye of a needle?

Posted by: Vinnie V | June 25, 2007 05:49 PM

First Amendment, maybe you should look a the history and background of the 1st Amendment before spouting stupid conservative talking points.

"Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."
-- Thomas Jefferson, to Danbury Baptists, 1802 (emphasis ours).

"In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation' between church and state."
-- Hugo Black, Everson v. Board of Education (1947)

"The civil government ... functions with complete success ... by the total separation of the Church from the State."
-- James Madison, 1819

Religion flourishes in greater purity without than with the aid of government.
-- James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822

"Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U S forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them, and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does this not involve the principle of a national establishment...?"
-- James Madison

Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church and the private school supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separate.
-- Ulysses S Grant, 1875

Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there the more did I perceive the great political consequences resulting from this state of things, to which I was unaccustomed. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom pursuing courses diametrically opposed to each other; but in America I found that they were intimately united, and that they reigned in common over the same country. My desire to discover the causes of this phenomenon increased from day to day. In order to satisfy it I questioned the members of all the different sects; and I more especially sought the society of the clergy, who are the depositaries of the different persuasions, and who are more especially interested in their duration. As a member of the Roman Catholic Church I was more particularly brought into contact with several of its priests, with whom I became intimately acquainted. To each of these men I expressed my astonishment and I explained my doubts; I found that they differed upon matters of detail alone; and that they mainly attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country to the separation of Church and State. I do not hesitate to affirm that during my stay in America I did not meet with a single individual, of the clergy or of the laity, who was not of the same opinion upon this point.

-Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1831

Posted by: Michael | June 25, 2007 05:50 PM

"Protecting "smart-ass" behavior by an adolescent who wants attention simply does not have the same importance as protecting the right of the next Newton to challenge current science, or the next Thomas Payne to challenge our current political thinking."

To be clear, are you saying that if the sign instead said 'Legalize Marijuana Now' with sub-bullets identifying a cogent arguement to that effect, you would have supported him because he was challenging current political thinking?

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 05:51 PM

"Yes. Miranda should be eliminated absolutely.... sweetheart...please feel free to jump to the furthest and most radical conclusion."

The point is that this student is certainly no worse than individuals like Miranda -- and pointing out that he has been arrested for drug use doesn't change the argument for or against his position.

"Would you venture down the same slippery slope you fear here for free speech for gun rights in defending the 2nd amendment?"

I think that free speech is a critical element of a free society -- and the power of the state to censor is extremely destructive. I take a conservative view that the state should employ this power to censor in only those cases where absolutely necessary [which is why I applaud the McCain-Feingold ruling today -- it's the one 'conservative' ruling in the bunch].


Posted by: | June 25, 2007 05:56 PM

"And exactly how did the student's behavior benefit the public discourse or benefit society?"

It doesn't matter. The state doesn't get to judge whether speech increases public discourse or not, that would defeat the whole purpose.

"Yes. Miranda should be eliminated absolutely.... sweetheart...please feel free to jump to the furthest and most radical conclusion. I was merely adding an additional point of reference to inform the readers about this young brave warrior of free speech."

Yes, a needless ad hominem attack. Judge the facts of the case.

"Would you venture down the same slippery slope you fear here for free speech for gun rights in defending the 2nd amendment? Or as a strict constitutionalist do you see that amendment through the eye of a needle?"

Um, people are free to speak about gun rights all they want, not sure I understand your point. Now, if you want to talk about the 2nd Amendment and its prohibitions on the feds to ensure states rights, that's another matter. But then again, the Conservatives earlier this term in their abortion decision left the door wide open for Congress to ban numerous types of weapons so long as there is an alternative avalable for purchase...

Posted by: Michael | June 25, 2007 05:59 PM

To be clear, are you saying that if the sign instead said 'Legalize Marijuana Now' with sub-bullets identifying a cogent arguement to that effect, you would have supported him because he was challenging current political thinking?

That is the difference my friend. You are spending such a great deal of time and energy trying to decontruct and articulate what this brave warrior of free speech was trying to get across to us. The fact is he didnt post that on the banner.

I on the other hand call it as I see it. The kids a smart ass. Period. Keep looking for the depth in this shallow pool of an event. Enjoy the Dorittos as you ponder the question.

Posted by: Vinnie V | June 25, 2007 05:59 PM

Michael,

The question is clear. Do you give the same treatment to the 2nd amendment as you do to the First?
Speaking for myself. I have grave concerns with the 2nd amendment. However I often find those who fear the slippery slope in term of free speech often are quick to dismantle those freedoms granted by the 2nd amendment. All for the first.........not so much for No.2.

"Yes, a needless ad hominem attack. Judge the facts of the case."

Muster just a hint of intellectualy honesty in this case or is everything relating to free speech cause for an uprising.

This country has no idea what censorship is. It always amazes me when TV talking heads proclaim censorpship as they did with DOn Imus. The government had nothing to do with that case. It was a free market decision.

Our Bong Hits for Jesus Friend needent worry about the Gulag.....yet Michael.

Posted by: Vinnie V | June 25, 2007 06:09 PM

"I on the other hand call it as I see it. The kids a smart ass. Period."

So your point is that we should employ the full censorship power of the state to swat down a meaningless message? That this case represented one of those times when the general rights of freedom of speech needed to be over-ridden to protect society from some meaningless drivel by a smart-ass teen?

I don't think the teen meant a darn thing -- which is why I think it is silly for the state to argue that this case warrants an exemption to his general freedom of expression.

Keep in mind that you are effectively in agreement with the 4 liberal judges -- though not in their remedy.

Roberts et al believe that the *only* reason that they are able to censor the teen is because the message is harmful and it is at a school event. [You clearly don't see the message as harmful, so can't agree with that.]

Scalia and Thomas argue that regardless of the message -- whether intelligent or asinine -- the student has no free speech rights if it is a school function. You have indicated that you don't agree with that.

The four liberal judges say the message is silly, meaningless and thus doesn't cause harm that would warrant its suppression. Sounds like you agree with their reasoning but not their conclusion...

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 06:10 PM

My purpose was not to explain the legal reasoning behind the court's decision. The court did a fine job of that itself. My point is not to get so rolled up in a nit. Go ahead and disagree with the legal reasoning. Some of the justices did.

But to say that the republic is falling apart and that we are headed for tyranny as some posters have is just plain silly. Our free speech rights are safe and secure.

Posted by: Chicago | June 25, 2007 06:13 PM

So: the conservative charmers have now extended fuller first amendment rights to fictitious persons, such as corporations, and limited them for natural born persons such as high school students. What next? How about a constitutional amendment affirming that "person" in the constitution and in statutory law shall always mean "natural born person," as it always did until another Republican Supreme Court majority arbitarily granted, at least in part, and now a growing part, inalienable human rights to legal fictions?

Posted by: Alexander Mac Donald | June 25, 2007 06:16 PM

The left complains that free speech is being erroded in the government schools becasue a pot head couldn't advocate for the illegal use of drugs.
The left would change their tune if the banner said "All ACLU Liberals Should Be Shot!"

Posted by: RA | June 25, 2007 06:17 PM

Roberts et al believe that the *only* reason that they are able to censor the teen is because the message is harmful and it is at a school event. [You clearly don't see the message as harmful, so can't agree with that.]

I cant....? I cant.....? Hold on.....yes....I can. I did. Albeit not earth shattering....but yes....I do. There are obviously technicalities in the case. Was it a school event? He wasnt in school. yet he was there. Was he amoung his classmates...etc...But again you dont think the teen meant a darn thing. Are you really that naive? This case has all the trappings of a case meant to be "vague" so that it could in fact be taken this far.
My first point was that it was absurd for the case to go this far. At best the student was an agent provocateur. At worst....a smart ass. Im siding with the later.


Posted by: Vinnie V | June 25, 2007 06:21 PM

You know what the kid in "Bong Hits" is doing now...since some think his arrest for selling pot is relevant...he is in China teaching English as a second language. One hell of a lot better than whatever the Bush twins are drinking right now!

For nonsensical, the new sign in Juneau is 'Bond Hit$ for Juneau'.

So some justices believe kids have no 1st rights...wonder how they square that with the "rights of the unborne"????

Posted by: WOW | June 25, 2007 06:21 PM

We all have to remember that schools are unique places. They are required to keep the students safe and to educate them. Obviously, disruption in the class room cannot be tolerated. Further, students sending inconsistent messages w/ what the school's core values are hurts the school's likihood of suceeding in the school's mission statement. Students at schools are censored all the time. It's sometimes necessary to preserve peace and security. High School students are at an awkward point in their life. Here, I believe the court struck the proper balance between the need to protect free speech and the need to have an orderly school. True, he didn't go to school that day, but this was a school sponsored event. This case is too simply too dissimilar to the Tinker decision to warrant a similar holding.

Posted by: Neil | June 25, 2007 06:21 PM

Chicago,

My purpose was not to explain the legal reasoning behind the court's decision. The court did a fine job of that itself. My point is not to get so rolled up in a nit. Go ahead and disagree with the legal reasoning. Some of the justices did.

But to say that the republic is falling apart and that we are headed for tyranny as some posters have is just plain silly. Our free speech rights are safe and secure.

BRILLANT.

Thank you.

The first ammendment lawyers posting here could learn a few things from your summation.

Posted by: Vinnie V | June 25, 2007 06:24 PM

Neil,

Stop it. Your making sense.

Posted by: Vinnie V | June 25, 2007 06:27 PM

Strict Constructionism, States' Rights & Bible Literal Interpretation were first about white supremacism, patriarchy, slavery apologetics & Protestant hegemony.

States have rights, people have duties and privileges; as determined by the privileged...it's their duty. St. Paul says to obey your masters.

Malcolm X pointed out that racism is like a luxury car; there's a new model every year.
I've heard on allegedly Christian television about the supernatural, born again race. This might suggest the state of racism in America today. The supernaturally superior Jesus race must prevail over, yet be segregated from, the spiritually dark race. (See Rutherford Institute's John Whitehead's first book for particulars.)

It's progress, I suppose, to see a racism that, while still about the familiar black and white, is less about skin color. It's difficult to think it's more moral, however.

Posted by: Greg | June 25, 2007 06:30 PM

WOW,

Well done on bringing in the Bush Twins. BDS brutha BDS.

I also heard he takes in stray dogs and loves his mother. I mean we all know teachers are our nations most valuable resource. Maybe he just failed the drug test here? Just asking questions.....just asking questions.

Posted by: Vinnie V | June 25, 2007 06:33 PM

"This case is too simply too dissimilar to the Tinker decision to warrant a similar holding."

The Tinker criteria was explicitly cited as the criteria used for the determination of the case by Roberts et al. Roberts and the majority believed the combination of the 'reasonable' belief that the message advocated illegal drug use and the activity being at a school-sanctioned event were sufficient for the principal to take the actions she did.

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 06:34 PM

"True, he didn't go to school that day, but this was a school sponsored event."

Just a nit -- it was a school-sanctioned event -- that is, students were allowed to attend without being marked absent -- the school in no way, shape or form initiated or sponsored the event.

The fact that students were allowed to attend and that a large number did was sufficient for the school to assert and the court to confirm their ability to regulate the behavior of any student attending.

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 06:43 PM

"This court will not be satisfied until the Southern Baptist Convention takes over the National Cathedral and is completely funded by the taxpayers, until women are barred from holding any jobs except teaching and child-rearing, until all school children are forced to get down on their knees and pray to the Christian god every day before they stand and pray to the flag, and until all peoples of color are confined to their own neighborhoods and schools and not allowed to mix with or breed with the white race, unless they have an income of at least a million dollars a year. "

Audible yawn.

I know; this is such a terrible place to live.

Some days I hear Charlie Brown's teacher (wah-wah, wah-wah-wah) when I read things like this.

Posted by: Adele | June 25, 2007 06:55 PM

Bong hits for Jesus was an easy target. It falls under the de facto "drug exception." There is now a legal drug exception to the free speech of students. The youth would presumably have been subject to any possible penalties for truancy even if he had rejoined his fellow students on the street after skipping the taking of attendance at the school building. Therefore he should plainly have the free speech rights of any youth on the street. One obviously could make a rather strong argument the other way if he were mingling with the other students--I have not read the ruling. But this ruling is hardly shocking compared to the larger drug exception from freedom whereby people who choose to use cannabis are subject to arrest and incarceration with all the destruction of status, employment etc which that may imply despite the scientific facts, which arew that cannabis is not only less lethal, toxic, teratogenic, and disorienting than alcohol but which has recently been shown to be an excellent anti-inflammatory. Indeed cannabis is less toxic than aspirin and far less so than acetominophen.
The suppression of cannabis is another case of bad science resulting in bad public policy. Wouldn't it be nice if we had a supreme court or a political party which really stood up for good science and the freedom of the American citizen?

Posted by: . | June 25, 2007 06:56 PM

Justice Thomas is the only "conservative" on the bench. All others are merely pretenders.

Posted by: disputatio | June 25, 2007 06:59 PM

On what basis was Roberts able to conclude that the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" sign promoted drug use?

I've seen pictures of the guy holding up the sign, and I see the expression as more of reverse advertising. e.g. "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" equals "Use drugs and you'll end up a loser". A sign cannot be viewed in the abstract--it must be seen in full context.

Yet Roberts felt this was an inappropriate message to send to children?

How does supressing anti-drug messages, decrease drug use? And how many kids will light up joints tonight because Roberts has once again made drug use cool and hazard free? Where will we find the next generation of cautionary tales? Thanks to the Roberts decision both free speech and the War on Drugs have been set back yet another generation.

Posted by: JP2 | June 25, 2007 07:02 PM

"On what basis was Roberts able to conclude that the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" sign promoted drug use?"

Technically he didn't -- he simply concluded that it was reasonable for the principal to infer that the sign advocated illegal drug usage. Given this inference, and the further stretch that the student on the sidewalk was still considered a participant in a school-sponsored event, Roberts applied the Tinker criteria to yield his decision.

The more dangerous opinions were Scalia and Thomas who thought that Tinker should be over-turned and that no 1st Amendment rights exist for public school children.

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 07:09 PM

"This country has no idea what censorship is. It always amazes me when TV talking heads proclaim censorpship as they did with DOn Imus. The government had nothing to do with that case. It was a free market decision."

I agree that the word is thrown about too often and is misunderstood, as it was in the Imus case, but this was the school district, a government institution. That does make a difference and it does make it censorship. The fundamental issue here was that it was off school grounds and he wasn't in attendance that day. Breyer's decision was the right one- she shouldn't get sued for making a tough call but his record must be cleared.

"Muster just a hint of intellectualy honesty in this case or is everything relating to free speech cause for an uprising."

we must take alarm with even the smallest infringements of our liberties...a little revolution now and then is a healthy thing.

"Speaking for myself. I have grave concerns with the 2nd amendment. However I often find those who fear the slippery slope in term of free speech often are quick to dismantle those freedoms granted by the 2nd amendment. All for the first.........not so much for No.2."

I'd also a gree most people don't understand the Constitution, or its context leading to bad philosophies, on both sides. The fact is the Bill of rights was written to limit the federal government, reserving all other rights to "the states or the people" without much differentation, as it was unnecessary. The 14th Amendment extends those provisions to the states, making the First Amendment binding at all levels of government. So why not the 2nd Amendment? Because of that uncelar distinction between the states and the people. The second Amendment simultaneously reserves a right (not an inherent one, mind you, but a granted right) to the people while making it clear that its purpose is to preserve the rights of the states. This is why the 14th Amendment provision isn't as binding on it as it is on the other amendments- If the states want to limit gun rights, I think they're entitled to under the 2nd Amendment. The Feds, on the other hand, need to keep their hands off.

Posted by: Michael | June 25, 2007 07:13 PM

Thank you, Michael at 5:50. The assurance with which contrary claims that those in the past had the beliefs of the religious right despite demonstrable evidence (as you have cited)is quite bewildering. How I imagine they try to do this with impunity :their history is church written (amazing the effort that must go into coming up with fantasy versions to their liking), they think they have these current religious doctrines, assume (much for self-esteem) that the forefathers had the same affiliation, therefore they must have had the same beliefs as they do, and so whatever they do is therefore automatically sanctioned by God and all the demigod authority figures whom they look up to, such as the Framers!

Posted by: Phil Jaxon | June 25, 2007 07:21 PM

Interesting discussion Michael. We disagree on the bases of a little revolution. Your legal knowledge exceeds mine I will grant you that.

My premise is the tempest in the Tea Cup and the false sense of importance that many in these "HOT TOPICS" are granted, such as our free speech student here.
I have seen state sponsored censorship and at times I fear cases like these and the hysteria is geneterates on both sides is intellectually dishonest.

Lets go to court seems absurd on the merits of this case but all to frequent a battle cry. California 200,000 lawyers. France 40,000.

When the NYT and WASHPOST come out of from under their desks to support the cartoonists that characterize Mohammad that is when I will recognize columinsts such as Mr. Cohen as being a true champion of free speech. Until then his outrage over BONG HITS.....well...it flat

Posted by: Vinnie V | June 25, 2007 07:38 PM

I suspect that the votes of the "5" in this court are much much much more in line with common sense and the mainstream than the "4" are.

But I guess that is the dissention that liberals are asking for when they nominate someone who worked for 10 years as General Counsel for the ACLU.

Posted by: KMan | June 25, 2007 07:38 PM

Anon 5:22: Free speech is supposed to be protected according to how much it benefits society? Protecting adolescent behavior isn't as important as promoting the next Newton etc.. (so we are assuming the intention of the teenager? post psychoanalytic constitutional reading?)

This is such news to me, so ludicrous when it claims to be the intention of the writers, I'm not even going to respond.


What is funny is that these post 1979 conservatve ideologue people all parrot the same group of bold pronouncements, which taken together are a daunting wall of Big Brother-like perverse nonsense appearing authoritative in their bold sophistry but often demonstrably, laughably false if one has facts to refer to. I notice many just give in when this is blindly parroted as an "alternate view". Since the ideology often blindly repeat the same points and " arguments" and so are known, has someone addressed this prefabricated mass with a factual, logical refutation?

Posted by: Shane P | June 25, 2007 07:41 PM

Chet, I have no problem with the ads; but do we really want ads paid for by special interest groups and lobbyists that put out false information? I have the same problem with corporations laying out scads of money for a candidate that they then can ask special favors for their business for - as I do with Energy companies and oil writing energy policy or big drugs writing prescription/drug policy. What I have the most problem with is people who favor industry and corporations over average people. That is the problem inherent in this system. I admit to not being well versed in McCain-Feingold, but it was a bi-partisan effort and I thought it was to reform campaign finance. When you have companies with deep pockets, what chance does an ordinary person have? Everything will go to the company with the deepest pockets.

Posted by: GJKBEAR | June 25, 2007 08:00 PM

"I suspect that the votes of the "5" in this court are much much much more in line with common sense and the mainstream than the "4" are."

Did you read the opinions?

In the Hein ruling the '5' don't have a cogent argument -- 2 say that Flaust obviously applies but that want to overturn Flaust, while 3 say that Flaust doesn't apply so that aren't going to comment on it. [As opposed to the other 4 who have the common sense argument that Flaust applies -- but they don't want to overturn it.]

So the majority of justices think Flaust applies (6 of 9), and the majority of the justices think that Flaust shouldn't be over-turned (7 of 9) -- but the 4 justices who hold both of these views are in the minority.

In Morse, the 5 were split with 3 arguing that the Tinker applied, and 2 arguing that Tinker should be over-turned [and 1 arguing that the whole 1st Amendment case was irrelevant].

And this is your demonstration of 'common sense'?

Posted by: | June 25, 2007 08:03 PM

"I hope the Dems have a effort in place to identify potential judges as far to left as Bush's are to the right. Young, healthy, and radical leftist. Then when Pres. Clinton takes office with a Dem Senate, she can commence to packing the federal courts."

Hear ye, hear ye .... what goes around, comes around !

Posted by: mdmark | June 25, 2007 08:31 PM

Is this case a bit overblown? Maybe in and of itself. What's important isn't just the decision, which I don't necessarily disagree with, it's the reasoning behind the decision and how it fits into the broader pattern. If it wasn't released on the same day that the same 5-4 majority ruled that speech concerns are paramount when discussing an abortion protestor, but blew them off here, it seems that these justices who swore to simply call balls and strikes just a year ago are confirming their biases, and then shaping their opinion to reach the intended result. The logic isn't following consistantly, and that is very disturbing.

KMan- Mainstream opinion doesn't matter, the law does. That's why we have a Bill of rights i nthe first place- to protect that which is unpopular.

Posted by: Michael | June 25, 2007 08:34 PM

Michael,

Again I point to the 2nd amendment. Free speech champions consistently point to the slippry slope argument, but when it comes to the 2nd amendment well....that is another story. The arguement consistently breaks out to the familiar "Our Framers could never have envisioned the types weapons available today in the hands of citizens." And please spare me states rights vs. federal rights.

So will you stand by "That is why we have a Bill of Rights in the first place-to protect that which is unpopular." Or will you favor that which falls in line with your particular ideology.....your call.

Posted by: Vinnie | June 25, 2007 08:53 PM

WHICH FIVE VOTES COUNT MORE THAN 52% OF AMERICA ? O'CONNOR RHENQUIST THOMAS KENNEDY SCALIA !.. WHO NEEDS THE MILITARY WHEN YOU CAN HAVE A JUDICIAL COUP ?


5

Posted by: hankomatic1 | June 25, 2007 09:12 PM

Chicago - you just verbalized it in a nutshell... I had to post it again...

The theocratic rulers of Iran arrest women for exposing their hands and face and nothing else in public. Yet the liberals want us to find common ground with them because standing up for human rights in that context could mean actually having to sacrifice something and not just blabbering. Same in Iraq where Saddam fed dead children to dogs while their mother watched and let his sons roam the countryside, raping at will. Where was the liberal outcry? The same place it was over Rwanda. Nowhere. After all, none of Saddam's atrocities aired on CNN- purposefully, as CNN news chief admitted in the NYTimes the day after Saddam was deposed. Saddam might have hurt a CNN reporter and brave journalists that they are they couldn't have that.

Liberals instead raise their voices in opposition to a decision that says schools can prohibit smart-ass behavior during school time.

If the student in question wants to advocate "bong hits for Jesus" he is free to do it on his own time and even in appropriate school forums such as the school newspaper or a writing assignment. Or he can write High Times or the Nation.

But that's not a good solution for him because he does not truly want to advocate anything. (If I'm wrong, maybe he can rally support by making a cogent argument for 'bong hits for Jesus' so that supporters will demand that school time be given over to the subject.)

Really, he just wants to be able to disrupt the learning atmosphere that adults created. He's a rebel without a cause. He is free to rebel on his own time. Schools need not turn anarchic because a few smart-asses want them to.

Posted by: Chicago | June 25, 2007 02:55 PM

Posted by: Mike M | June 25, 2007 09:16 PM

Chicago - you just verbalized it in a nutshell... I had to post it again...

The theocratic rulers of Iran arrest women for exposing their hands and face and nothing else in public. Yet the liberals want us to find common ground with them because standing up for human rights in that context could mean actually having to sacrifice something and not just blabbering. Same in Iraq where Saddam fed dead children to dogs while their mother watched and let his sons roam the countryside, raping at will. Where was the liberal outcry? The same place it was over Rwanda. Nowhere. After all, none of Saddam's atrocities aired on CNN- purposefully, as CNN news chief admitted in the NYTimes the day after Saddam was deposed. Saddam might have hurt a CNN reporter and brave journalists that they are they couldn't have that.

Liberals instead raise their voices in opposition to a decision that says schools can prohibit smart-ass behavior during school time.

If the student in question wants to advocate "bong hits for Jesus" he is free to do it on his own time and even in appropriate school forums such as the school newspaper or a writing assignment. Or he can write High Times or the Nation.

But that's not a good solution for him because he does not truly want to advocate anything. (If I'm wrong, maybe he can rally support by making a cogent argument for 'bong hits for Jesus' so that supporters will demand that school time be given over to the subject.)

Really, he just wants to be able to disrupt the learning atmosphere that adults created. He's a rebel without a cause. He is free to rebel on his own time. Schools need not turn anarchic because a few smart-asses want them to.

Posted by: Chicago | June 25, 2007 02:55 PM

Posted by: Mike M | June 25, 2007 09:16 PM

Chicago - you just verbalized it in a nutshell... I had to post it again...

The theocratic rulers of Iran arrest women for exposing their hands and face and nothing else in public. Yet the liberals want us to find common ground with them because standing up for human rights in that context could mean actually having to sacrifice something and not just blabbering. Same in Iraq where Saddam fed dead children to dogs while their mother watched and let his sons roam the countryside, raping at will. Where was the liberal outcry? The same place it was over Rwanda. Nowhere. After all, none of Saddam's atrocities aired on CNN- purposefully, as CNN news chief admitted in the NYTimes the day after Saddam was deposed. Saddam might have hurt a CNN reporter and brave journalists that they are they couldn't have that.

Liberals instead raise their voices in opposition to a decision that says schools can prohibit smart-ass behavior during school time.

If the student in question wants to advocate "bong hits for Jesus" he is free to do it on his own time and even in appropriate school forums such as the school newspaper or a writing assignment. Or he can write High Times or the Nation.

But that's not a good solution for him because he does not truly want to advocate anything. (If I'm wrong, maybe he can rally support by making a cogent argument for 'bong hits for Jesus' so that supporters will demand that school time be given over to the subject.)

Really, he just wants to be able to disrupt the learning atmosphere that adults created. He's a rebel without a cause. He is free to rebel on his own time. Schools need not turn anarchic because a few smart-asses want them to.

Posted by: Chicago | June 25, 2007 02:55 PM

Posted by: Mike M | June 25, 2007 09:16 PM

'Again I point to the 2nd amendment. Free speech champions consistently point to the slippry slope argument, but when it comes to the 2nd amendment well....that is another story. The arguement consistently breaks out to the familiar "Our Framers could never have envisioned the types weapons available today in the hands of citizens."'

No rights enumerated within the Bill of Rights are absolute -- nor were they designed to be. Likewise, technology does often lead to new compromises [consider the role of the FCC as a censor on radio and television broadcast -- also consider whether it would be deemed 'constitutional' if the Congress created an equivalent organization responsible for monitoring Internet content].

The bottom line is that these rights should be assumed to exist absent compelling government reason to the contrary -- hence the balance. I think one of the concerns others have expressed on your earlier statements is the idea that only certain speech warrants protection -- and thus it is in some ways up to the individual to prove the speech warrants protection. The general case history is that speech is assumed to be protected -- and it is the responsibility of the censor to demonstrate that the restrictions are narrowly tailored to address a specific, legitimate government need.

In the McCain-Feingold ruling, the majority appears to understand that [though to be fair so do the minority -- they just rate the specific, legitimate government need as being more important]. In the Morse ruling, the majority is willing to give more credence to the specific, legitimate government need than the minority believes is warranted.

To put it another way, the majority of justices believes an asinine teen sign is significant enough to warrant censorship, but reducing the impact of big money in elections is not significant enough to warrant censorship. [Personnally, I think they are right on the McCain-Feingold -- I just wish they had followed Breyer's example on Morse.]


Posted by: | June 25, 2007 09:21 PM

I stand by the protection of the unpopular. I'd like to see more gun control laws, but I think a lot of them are unconstitutional. The "states rights" issue (I use quotes because only people have rights-governments have powers) may seem like a cop-out to many, but it's a fact that it is an important part of the constitution along with the checks and balances that get so often ignored these days. If Arizona wants to mandate that every citizen has a right to a concealed weapon and California wants to ban them all together, I think both can constitutionally do so (though I think both are equally dumb propositions).

I also don't think the slippery slope argument applies because the 2nd Amendment, and many of the other amendments for that matter, don't pertain to natural rights (as Madison acknowledge when he proposed them). The first Amendment, in short, guarantees the rights of individualis- the right to think for yourself, meet with like-minded individuals, and act on those thoughts as a citizen, a prerequisite for a truly democratic society. Without it, everything else collapses. The 2nd and 3rd amendment were designed to preserve the ability of the states to protect themselves from an overreaching federal government usurping the basic rights of the 1st Amendment. Time, logic, and other considerations allow us to tamper with those kind of rights, but the 1st Amendment is an absolute and cannot be tampered with.

Now, let's turn it around the other way Vinny so I can see your views on the 2nd Amendment. Do you believe citizens have a right to anti-aircraft weapons, or nuclear weapons for that matter?

Posted by: Michael | June 25, 2007 09:22 PM

as a Christian who in no way wants the government's nose in my faith (Freedom Of not For/From) but who doesn't want religious people (of any sort) to be discriminated against how is it against the 1st amendment if religious groups can join in with other community groups for funding for special projects. Me, I want my church to stay as far away as possible from government money because it always has strings.
But it would be against the 1st amendment, if religious organizations (churches, mosques temples ) weren't allowed to ask for the funding. But I don't think this was the issue anyway.
Oh and as for Bong Hits - I kinda wonder if the uproar that his free speech had been violated if he put up a "honk if you love Jesus" sign or some thing just as disrubtive and equally done to annoy. Because that is waht his sign was for (that and as abillbaord for his new business"
BTW, conservative kids (and parents) in public schools have long lost their ability to say what they want - look at some CA 9th district rulings for examples.
BTWM just to put this in perspective, if I were in another country I wouldn't be allowed to voice my opinion (some places because I am a lady) - so at the end of day, its OK, since you still have the ability to complain and whine ( as long as you voted that is :D ) or praise or fight to change the system or keep the system.

Posted by: kaekae | June 25, 2007 09:27 PM

this is quite simply a battle between the people who live in the cities and those who live in the country. way different values.

Posted by: gary | June 25, 2007 09:30 PM

this is quite simply a battle between the people who live in the cities and those who live in the country. way different values.

Posted by: gary | June 25, 2007 09:30 PM

this is quite simply a battle between the people who live in the cities and those who live in the country. way different values.

Posted by: gary | June 25, 2007 09:31 PM

Michael,

I do belive in limited gun control. No automatic weapons, no anti aircraft and no nuclear weapons. Hmmm would this make my militia argument moot? Would we even have a chance?

"Time, logic, and other considerations allow us to tamper with those kind of rights, but the 1st Amendment is an absolute and cannot be tampered with."

Do you really believe that time logic and other considerations hold the First Amendment as untouchable no matter the reason. I simply disagree. On your own time do as you please protest, debate, but inteh public school there are limits that is a fact and regardless of teh technicalities of tis case it hardly acts as the fulcrum for our free speech to be balaanced upon. As I stated earlier Tempest in a Tea Pot.

I will sleep easy tonight.
I hope you are not plagued by the restless hauntings of the chipping away at free speech that Bong Hits for Jesus has wrought upon us this day.

As I said when Mr. Cohn addresses the larger issues of free speech from his own colleges. Namely the censorship within his own media of Islamo Fascism and the presses own self imposed
censorship from fear, I will take note. But when the best our press can muster is Bong Hits.....ahhhh sleep easy I will.

Posted by: Vinnie | June 25, 2007 09:42 PM

WHICH FIVE VOTES COUNT MORE THEN 52% OF AMERICA ? O'CONNOR RHENQUIST THOMAS KENNEDY SCALIA..... WHO NEEDS THE MILITARY WHEN YOU CAN HAVE A JUDICIAL COUP?????

Posted by: hankomatic | June 25, 2007 09:47 PM

" much-needed victory for common-sense...way to go guys (and gal)!!!" wrote
a previous poster,but the "gal" had nothing to do with it. Ruthie Ginsberg was ex-counsel to NOW,and is a doctinaire liberal incapable of rational thought.

If the Prez gets another SC pick this term..well,she'd be a good choice for replacement.

Posted by: Steve | June 25, 2007 09:52 PM

What people fail to understand when they talk about this alleged "conservative" court, is that the court is just returning to where it historically was before FDR (succeeded by Truman and Eisenhower, who later regretted it) tilted it so firmly to the left.

Douglas, T. Marshall, Brennan as judges were far to the left of virtually anyting that had come before in the history of the U.S. Earl Warren was really just a politician (Republican VP nominee in 1948), more than a judge, and he viewed court cases as a politician would, ie. 'how would I have voted?'.

But that's not the judge's role. The Supreme Court justice's role is to interpret what the Constitution says, not what they want it to say. The current Supreme Court seems to have some understanding of this concept of judicial humility and faith to the words of the Constitution, which had been previously lost for decades.

Posted by: Randolph | June 25, 2007 10:05 PM

This is fair warning to anyone to the left of center. Voting for a Nader of some such other minor candidate is simply far too dangerous. Up to 3 justices could be replaced in the next Presidents' term and can you imagine the damage to be caused by 3 more Alitos or Roberts? Scary

Posted by: Steve L | June 25, 2007 10:16 PM

"But that's not the judge's role. The Supreme Court justice's role is to interpret what the Constitution says, not what they want it to say. The current Supreme Court seems to have some understanding of this concept of judicial humility and faith to the words of the Constitution, which had been previously lost for decades."

Baloney. See my earlier post.

The Supreme Court has always been a political institution, it's nature is so. To act like there was a time when it wasn't or it "merely interpreted the laws and didn't make them," is either expressing extreme ignorance of history or just outright lying. See Marbury v. Madison where, in the ultimate act of what the conservatives would today call "judicial activism," the court made itself the final arbiter of the law in an extra-constitutional manner. See Plessy, Dred Scott, or the numerous other political decisions that came from those eras.

Beyond that, Robert's BS notion of "just calling balls and strikes" might play well for the ignorant, but the fact is it isn't the job of the SCOTUS to call balls and strikes, that's done with the lower courts. It's the Supreme Court's job to define for them where the boundaries of the strike zone are, and that's an inherently political decision, as these cases today demonstrate in a clear manner.

But, then again, your ignorance was already demonstrated when talking about the President replacing a sitting justice, who I can guarantee you would never voluntarily step down with this administration in place (and thankfully because of separation of powers is not subject to being replaced unilaterally).

Posted by: Michael | June 25, 2007 10:24 PM

O'CONNOR RHENQUIST THOMAS KENNEDY SCALIA THE SAME 5 THAT BROUGHT YOU BUSH CHENEY.....SELECTED NOT ELECTED....

Posted by: hankomatic | June 25, 2007 10:25 PM

Having spent much of the afternoon reading all 4 cases, I have to say that this court got it right on all 4. These are fairly moderate and I might add, common sense rulings. There is nothing right wing in these decisions. Roberts and Alito along with Kennedy seem to be the hands of moderation, not over-reaching like Scalia or Thomas would like, and not going along with the liberal justices.

I find troubling the reasoning of the 4 most liberal justices. These cases should have been 7-2 or 8-1 decisions.

Posted by: john jay | June 25, 2007 10:45 PM

This court is OUT OF CONTROL!!
Please try to hang on until Jan '09 John Paul Stevens!

Posted by: Sid | June 25, 2007 11:39 PM

Yes! Hold on til 2009 John Paul Stevens so that President Fred Thompson can replace you with Allison Eid or Margaret Ryan! :-)

Posted by: EzOnTheEyez | June 25, 2007 11:59 PM

Its wonderful to see that this court actually refers to the Constitution when laying a foundation for their opinions. We all only agree on that document, everything else is subjective and wishful thinking and should be rejected, such as the atrocious incarnation that was Roe. Some may want abortion on demand, but its ridiculous to pretend that that is a right protected in the Constitution. If individual states decide that abortion is a woman's right, then those states can take that on, but anyone that thinks this is some how miraculously enshrined in the Constitution is a complete liar. God help them.

Posted by: Chris | June 26, 2007 12:42 AM

EzOnTheEyes Your republican PARTY is obsolete !!!!

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Posted by: Alerorito | June 26, 2007 05:20 AM

Andrew Cohen is wrongly projecting his own liberal standards upon the "conservatives" of the Supreme court. In doing so he is either ignorant of conservative judges or deliberately attempting to misinform the reading public.
An activist judge will attempt to twist the law to achieve a particular outcome. Though the vast majority of activist judges are liberal, this does not mean a conservative cannot be an activist judge. For example, Dredd Scott, which was written by the comparatively conservative Taney court, was an activist decision.
A conservative judge on the other hand will interpret the law as it is written - even if they disagree with it. They may want a different outcome, but if the law doesn't specify it then they won't allow it. Thus it is possible for a personally liberal judge to be a "black-letter" conservative in their approach. A conservative judiciary respects the legislative arm of government as the policy makers, an activist judiciary seizes the policy prerogative and attributes it to themselves.
Cohen's mistake is to assume that an activist judiciary is the natural and correct order of the Supreme court. This is not surprising as the US has suffered numerous bouts of activist dominance (mainly liberal activist) and for liberals the best way to get their agendas' enacted is through the judiciary (democracy is a bit too hard as the majority of the public is generally small c conservative in nature).
Thus when Cohen sees judges not progressing a liberal agenda, he automatically assumes they are activists pursuing a conservative agenda. However, Scalia and Thomas have shown themselves consistently to be "black letter" judges and Robert's and Alito's approach seem to indicate similar thinking. Thus it is more than likely that these decisions are based on the reading of the law, not on on a activist conclusion.

Posted by: Despaxious | June 26, 2007 05:36 AM

wait a second - the headline says that the SC went 4-4, but there were five opinions released yesterday. and in my personal opinion, the 5th could be construed as a liberal opinion (ruling for government benefit over individual rights.) (wilkie vs robbins)
Anyway, this may be small issue, but Mr Cohen has just shown himself unworthy of any trust because even opinion pages should be based on truth and saying that is was 4 for 4 when there were five is a lie. Yes, I am aware that the editors may have chosen the headline (I doubt it), but in any case, the editors/fact checkers are also in error.

Posted by: kaekae | June 26, 2007 08:03 AM

Mike M:
"If the student in question wants to advocate 'bong hits for Jesus' he is free to do it on his own time and even in appropriate school forums such as the school newspaper or a writing assignment."

The student actually was advocating "bong hits 4 Jesus" on his own time. If you read the facts of the case, you would learn that he was not at school the day of the assembly. He was standing on the public property of the sidewalk holding a banner that was visible to the students (and principal) of his school. So, this ruling basically says that if you are a student advocating a controversial message in public, you had better avoid encountering any school officials, or you could be suspeneded or otherwise punished.

Posted by: Omaha | June 26, 2007 11:15 AM

Despaxious: "However, Scalia and Thomas have shown themselves consistently to be "black letter" judges and Robert's and Alito's approach seem to indicate similar thinking. Thus it is more than likely that these decisions are based on the reading of the law, not on on a activist conclusion."

Put down the crack pipe. Step away from the crack pipe.

Posted by: South Loudounian | June 26, 2007 11:31 AM

Gun control isn't unconstitutional or violate the 2nd amendment. Someone who can read at all adequately should be able to figure out why (I can assure any gun-"rights" person that when I read the Constitution before hearing what the pundits said, I certainly at all get the idea that we were all supposed to,or have the right to own guns!).

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 12:28 PM

Michael:
No, to uphold the right of judicial review is not at all the same as to claim the court has always been political, or that it is the final arbiter, and therefore essentially makes law.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 12:33 PM

Mike M is a fool for posting the same robotic regurgitation of "idiocy in a nutshell". But when have no response, such just ignore and like a fool just keep chanting the same thing.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 12:41 PM

Mike M is a fool for posting the same robotic regurgitation of Chicago's "idiocy in a nutshell". But when have no response, such just ignore and like a fool just keep chanting the same thing.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 12:41 PM

If Despaxious wrote that, has to be using that crack pipe massively.

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 12:42 PM

Kaekae, don't flatter yourself-most places you can as a lady at least voice your opinion. When people say stuff like this, they usually haven't been anywhere where their statement was true; they often also are the most church-oriented ones too. (I remember when I was outside the US --not intended as a reflection on the church-going--how provincial and illinformed the reporting and American beliefs in their news media looked)

Posted by: | June 26, 2007 12:48 PM

From despaxious I think I understand: this surreally doublespeaklike new conservative notion of impartiality and attempt at objectivity and the truth isn't what one would normally consider an honest attempt at that, but rather comes from writings by Ayn Rand and other escapees from Eastern Europe self-appointed as pundits on America (often former, sometimes to the end, however bitter, advocates of the 'Revolution)to edify us stick in the mud traditional Americans (e.g. WASP's) what our traditions (not so long, only about 100-150 years before us, I think those with previous family living through them might have some clue what fundamental American principles and values are really about)are. Your self-advantage and selfishness are honesty and truth, eh? No thanks!

Posted by: James Thomas | June 26, 2007 01:03 PM

I guess I am " Some idiot" also-that's what I thought was the intention of Mccain-Feingold (it seemed as if Souter's statement agreed)

Posted by: Also an idiot | June 26, 2007 01:14 PM

Republican: Yes that Nietzsche's influence(usually not meant to be taken as face value pronouncements) and far more their perverse misuses and further idiotic misapplications by the postmodernists claiming to be Nietzsche's followers(also not meant to be taken seriously, but of course applied by our wannabe "changers of the world" and their followers in our academies of Laputa)did a lot of harm in the 20th century and continue to, but let's not claim he just derived from Marx, and Feuerbach. I don't believe the Renaissance and Greeks he liked read Feuerbach; (also Nietzsche's style in German, while poetically overheated, is quite aphoristic and limpid-anything but thick-Hegel on the other hand ..)
I somehow REALLY doubt that Churchill, FDR (maybe slightly more possible, but I quite doubt it), much less Locke and the Scottish Enlightenment (e.g. Hume-no the Reagan yuppies didn't understand Adam Smith) had anything like the sort of religious views that you do (just KNEW you would try to include Reagan as some continuation of religious tradition). I thought the killing of priests in French Revolution France had to do with the fact that the tax starving French peasants were mercilessly and remorselessly levied came from the Catholic church, the largest French landowner.

If to say the 18th century was "dimly lit", you need to say that faith is light, or that the French enlightenment (including Voltaire, a great friend of Hume) caused a great "darkening", I part ways from that. Feuerbach,Voltaire, Diderot, even Rousseau properly understood are fine with me (no, Carlyle wasn't some protoReaganite either).

"Who will bring the Light of Faith to the 21'st century?It will have to be Christian America." Thanks, I hope not. I think I'll just pass on THAT "light of faith".

Posted by: Aaron | June 26, 2007 01:57 PM

Wait "Republican" I can't let pass either your "godless atheistic tyrannies that flourished under the Great Shadow", great shadow apparently meaning to you secularism and skepticism to religion.

Posted by: Aaron | June 26, 2007 02:29 PM

Greg, please don't equate strict construction intelligently understood (which is only trying to understand what is meant from what is written) with Southern trickery, Protestantism (wasn't much of the South more Catholic?), slavery apologetics, patriarchy (!). I know it's convenient, but it's a crock of you know what.

This bundling association is amazingly assumed as fact so that many now seem to decide and act on it.

Posted by: Warren | June 26, 2007 02:46 PM

Hmmm lets see where this discusiion has headed....Voltaire, Feuerbach,Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Carlyle,Nietzsche, could you all just dial down on the pretentious meter now. Looks like some of you are taking some Bong Hits for Voltaire in Philosophy 101.
Ahhh sooo provencial.....lol

Pass the Cheetos and turn up that Pink Floyd

Posted by: Vinnie | June 26, 2007 03:18 PM

Vinnie, don't be frightened-'Floyd (I'm a big fan myself) goes just fine with what I was responding to). I'm turning up Animals as we speak.

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