There are eight cases in the Supreme Court that have been pending, some for months, that are expected to be resolved as the final term of the court term approaches. The term is expected to be within its last week, reports the Associated Press.
Some of the key unresolved cases involve separation of church and state, execution of the mentally ill and limits on speech.
This sort of incidence is not so uncommon. Often justices leave the most difficult cases until the end. Much of the current attention to the matter is due to this being the end of the first term with for Chief Justice John Roberts and current justices. And with Chief Justice Roberts and Bush’s other appointee, Justice Samuel Alito, the court is on more conservative ground.
Thomas Goldstein, a Washington lawyer who argues before the Supreme Court, said, “It will tell us so much more about the Roberts court when we see decisions on hot-button issues like race and religion.”
Last December the court heard challenges to school assignment plans regarding race in Louisville, Kentucky and Seattle Washington. The last time the court dealt with race and education was in 2003, and it regarded race in admissions to University of Michigan Law School.
It was, however, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who authored the opinion and she had been replaced with Justice Samuel Alito.
According to the Associated Press, Roberts argues that the “legacy of the court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954 outlawing state-sponsored segregated schools should be race-blind programs.” He said, “The purpose of the Equal Protection Clause is to ensure that people are treated as individuals rather than based on the color of their skin.”
The court is to decide on the issue of Texas death row inmate Scott Louis Panetti. Panetti murdered his in laws in front of his estranged wife and daughter; however his lawyers argue that he believes that he is on death row for “preaching the word of God.” He does understand, however, that he has been convicted and sentenced to death.
In another case, a student at an Alaska high school was suspended for the display of a banner, fourteen feet in length, at a school-sanctioned event back in 2002 when the Olympic torch passed through Juneau on its way to Salt Lake City for the games. The banner the student displayed read, “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.” The reason the student was given for suspension was that he was advocating drug use, which he denied. The subject of the case is speech rights of students.
Another case in regard to the First Amendment is that in which a decision is to be made as to whether tax payers can go to federal court to challenge spending by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. This will be the first decision made by Roberts in regard to the matter of the separation of church and state.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, some recent rulings from the Supreme Court, however, have some stating that they are good for business. The court has recently passed decisions that limit damages that can be won in lawsuits and make it harder for corporations to be sued.
Washington attorney Maureen E. Mahoney, a longtime friend of Chief Justice Roberts and a former clerk of Rehnquist, the previous Chief Justice, said, “The Roberts court is even better for business…There is unquestionably a greater number of business cases before the court, and [the justices] are quite willing to limit damage remedies.”
For example, just in February the court threw out an $80 million punitive damage verdict against tobacco company Phillip Morris. The court ruled that juries may not use a single victim’s case to punish a company for damage done to thousands.
And more recently, in the last couple of weeks, the court protected insurance companies from having to pay millions of dollars for checking the credit rating of consumers without previous notification to the consumer.
8 cases await rulings by Supreme Court
By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer
From the Los Angeles Times
High court has been good for business
A dozen rulings in the last year have been a boon to corporations by making it harder to sue them or limiting lawsuit damages.
By David G. Savage
Times Staff Writer
Published June 21, 2007