Tag Archives | Supreme Court

Juries Are Allowed To Judge The Law, Not Just The Facts

Here is another chapter from Russ Kick's classic bite-size Disinformation book 50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know, published in 2003.

For more on Russ Kick, check out his website, The Memory Hole.

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GavelIn order to guard citizens against the whims of the King, the right to a trial by jury was established by the Magna Carta in 1215, and it has become one of the most sacrosanct legal aspects of British and American societies. We tend to believe that the duty of a jury is solely to determine whether someone broke the law. In fact, it’s not unusual for judges to instruct juries that they are to judge only the facts in a case, while the judge will sit in judgment of the law itself. Nonsense. Juries are the last line of defense against the power abuses of the authorities. They have the right to judge the law. Even if a defendant committed a crime, a jury can refuse to render a guilty verdict. Among the main reasons why this might happen, according to attorney Clay S. Conrad: When the defendant has already suffered enough, when it would be unfair or against the public interest for the defendant to be convicted, when the jury disagrees with the law itself, when the prosecution or the arresting authorities have gone “too far” in the single-minded quest to arrest and convict a particular defendant, when the punishments to be imposed are excessive or when the jury suspects that the charges have been brought for political reasons or to make an unfair example of the hapless defendant …
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The Supreme Court Has Ruled That You’re Allowed to Ingest Any Drug, Especially If You’re An Addict

Another chapter from my book 50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know, published in 2003.

For more on me, check out: The Memory Hole.

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Supreme SealIn the early 1920s, Dr. Linder was convicted of selling one morphine tablet and three cocaine tablets to a patient who was addicted to narcotics. The Supreme Court overturned the conviction, declaring that providing an addicted patient with a fairly small amount of drugs is an acceptable medical practice “when designed temporarily to alleviate an addict’s pains.” (Linder v. United States.)

In 1962, the Court heard the case of a man who had been sent to the clink under a California state law that made being an addict a criminal offense. Once again, the verdict was tossed out, with the Supremes saying that punishing an addict for being an addict is cruel and unusual and, thus, unconstitutional. (Robinson v. California.)

Six years later, the Supreme Court reaffirmed these principles in Powell v.Read the rest

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U.S. Supreme Court Set To Extend Gun Rights

Handguns. Photo: Joshuashearn (CC)

Handguns. Photo: Joshuashearn (CC)

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a landmark gun rights case that could apply the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms to both cities and states. Warren Richey reports for the Christian Science Monitor:

The US Supreme Court appears to be on verge of extending the constitutional protection of the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms to every jurisdiction in the nation.

During an hour-long oral argument at the high court on Tuesday, several justices exhibited a willingness to enforce their landmark 2008 gun-rights decision at the state and local level.

If they do so, the decision may doom not only the Chicago handgun ban at the center of Tuesday’s case, but other handgun bans and some of the toughest state and local gun-control laws in the country.

The only remaining question in McDonald v. Chicago was which constitutional mechanism the majority justices might use to apply the 2008 holding to state and local governments.

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Maybe They Are After Us

David R. Jones, Esq., President and CEO, Community Service Society of New York, at Huffington Post:

I’ve always been particularly contemptuous of conspiracy theories, whether it’s U.N. sponsored black helicopters, the dangers of the Trilateral Commission, or alien abduction. It’s never been the way I see things, although as a kid I had a period of concern over sitting on toilets and baby alligators that kids bought at the circus and flushed into New York City sewers.

But now I am joining mainstream America in its paranoia. This week we’ve witnessed the dissolution of ACORN, the leading national advocacy group for the poor, shut down with the active help of the Congress from both parties, and the stunning decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission which allows unlimited spending by corporations and labor unions in political campaigns. ACORN was forced out of business despite the fact that the expose´ that led to repeated attacks on it was perpetrated by a conservative activist now charged with a wiretapping attempt against U.S.

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Does The Patriot Act Violate Free Speech?

Do monkeys eat bananas? Come on Supremes, do the right thing. Report from NPR:

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a case that pits an individual’s right of free speech and association against a federal law aimed at combating terrorism. At issue is part of the Patriot Act that makes it a crime for an American citizen to engage in peaceful lawful activity on behalf of any group designated as a terrorist organization.

Federal law makes it a crime to provide material support to any organization designated as a terrorist group by the secretary of state. But the definition of material support includes not just providing weapons or money or bomb-making skills; it includes providing any sort of expert advice, training or personnel — including advice on how to resolve disputes peaceably or training on how to make human rights claims before the United Nations.

The nonprofit Humanitarian Law Project has a long history of engaging in such activity, mediating international conflicts and promoting human rights.

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Justice for Sale: What Can ‘The People’ Bid to Have Democracy in America?

Justice For SaleBill Moyers and Michael Winship writes on Huffington Post:

That famous definition of a cynic as someone who knows the price of everything — and the value of nothing — has come to define this present moment of American politics.

No wonder people have lost faith in politicians, parties and in our leadership. The power of money drives cynicism deep into the heart of every level of government. Everything, and everyone, comes with a price tag attached: from a seat at the table in the White House to a seat in Congress, to the fate of health care reform, our environment, and efforts to restrain Wall Street’s greed and prevent another financial catastrophe.

Our government is not broken; it’s been bought out from under us, and on the right and the left and smack across the vast middle, more and more Americans doubt representative democracy can survive the corruption of money.

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Corporation Says It Will Run for Congress

CATHERINE RAMPELL writes on the NY Times' Economix:
Following the Supreme Court decision implicitly granting corporations the right to free speech (by determining that political spending is a kind of speech), a corporation has decided to take what it believes to be “democracy’s next step”: It is running for Congress. With more than a twinge of irony, Murray Hill Incorporated, a liberal public relations firm, recently announced that it planned to run in the Republican primary in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District. Here is the company’s first “campaign” ad:
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Obama May Be Able To Wrest Control Of Activist Supreme Court With New Appointments

Seal_of_the_United_States_Supreme_CourtThe Supreme Court was widely condemned for “ending democracy with a single decision” and President Obama publicly stated his grievance at the activist judges in his State of the Union address, much to the annoyance of Justice Alito. Now it is believed the president may have a chance to nominate not one, but two new Justices. Watch for fireworks in the nomination hearings, should they come. This report from ABC News:

Lawyers for President Obama have been working behind the scenes to prepare for the possibility of one, and maybe two Supreme Court vacancies this spring.

Court watchers believe two of the more liberal members of the court, justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, could decide to step aside for reasons of age and health. That would give the president his second and third chance to shape his legacy on the Supreme Court.

Last week, when Obama took the nearly unprecedented step of criticizing the court’s opinion in a major campaign finance case during his State of the Union speech, some believed he was showcasing for the American people that presidential elections, and Supreme Court nominations count.

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Supreme Court Justice Alito Mouths ‘Not True’ To President Obama

This political media are all over this story. Here's the Huffington Post's take on it:
With the Supreme Court Justices sitting right in front of him, President Barack Obama unloaded in his State of the Union address on this past week's ruling qualifying corporations as having the rights of citizens and opening the "floodgates" to their political donations. "Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests - including foreign corporations - to spend without limit in our elections," Obama said. "Well I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that's why I'm urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong." There was some strong applause from members of Congress -- with both sides of the chamber rising to their feet with applause. The Justices -- all there except Scalia and Thomas -- sat in silence (as is their custom), but at the beginning of the exchange, Justice Alito [on the far left] can be seen shaking his head and mouthing words that seem to resemble "not true."
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