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U.S. Supreme Court fires off decisions

By zavyman in News
Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 06:50:28 AM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

On June 11, the United States Supreme Court decided six crucial cases, which they had saved until their session draws to an end. They really did save the best for last. In one case, a strict interpretation of the Fourth amendment is made, and in another, the freedom of religious belief clause of the First Amendment is duly protected.


First, the decisions that are of no particular interest:

CEDRIC KUSHNER PROMOTIONS, LTD. v. KING, No 00-549

A person who is the president and sole shareholder of a closely held corporation, acting within the scope of his authority as corporate employee, may be distinct from the "enterprise" for purposes of 18 USC 1962(c), the RICO statute. [This, and subsequent summaries are from Findlaw]

ALABAMA v. BOZEMAN, No 00-492

Under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers, states receiving criminal defendants prior to the termination of a sentence in another state may not arraign the defendant and then return the prisoner before trial.

NGUYEN v. IMMIGRATION & NATURALIZATION SERV., No 99-2071

8 USC 1409(a), setting forth citizenship requirements for one born out of wedlock and abroad to a citizen father and a noncitizen mother, does not violate equal protection simply by use of gender specific terms because of the biological difference between the parents.

KANSAS v. COLORADO, No 105

Money damages for violation of the Arkansas River Compact do not violate the Eleventh Amendment because the parties to the compact are states, not citizens, and the unliquidated nature of the money damages does not bar an award of prejudgment interest.

Now the two crucial decisions that were put off:

KYLLO v. US, No 99-8508

This refers to the case where police used thermal imaging technology to discern abnormal heat emissions from a house that was thought to be used to grow marijuana plants. The previous appeals courts had issued a somewhat vague ruling that allowed passive imaging that did not reveal anything more than basic heat emissions. This decision appears to have made thermal imaging for this purpose unconstitutional:

(c) Based on this criterion, the information obtained by the thermal imager in this case was the product of a search. The Court rejects the Governments argument that the thermal imaging must be upheld because it detected only heat radiating from the homes external surface. Such a mechanical interpretation of the Fourth Amendment was rejected in Katz, where the eavesdropping device in question picked up only sound waves that reached the exterior of the phone booth to which it was attached. Reversing that approach would leave the homeowner at the mercy of advancing technology including imaging technology that could discern all human activity in the home. Also rejected is the Governments contention that the thermal imaging was constitutional because it did not detect intimate details. Such an approach would be wrong in principle because, in the sanctity of the home, all details are intimate details. See e.g., United States v. Karo, 468 U. S. 705; Dow Chemical, supra, at 238, distinguished. It would also be impractical in application, failing to provide a workable accommodation between law enforcement needs and Fourth Amendment interests. See Oliver v. United States, 466 U. S. 170, 181. Pp.712.

Second:

GOOD NEWS CLUB v. MILFORD CENT. SCH., No 99-2036

The background:

Under New York law, respondent Milford Central School (Milford) enacted a policy authorizing district residents to use its building after school for, among other things, (1) instruction in education, learning, or the arts and (2) social, civic, recreational, and entertainment uses pertaining to the community welfare. Stephen and Darleen Fournier, district residents eligible to use the school' s facilities upon approval of their proposed use, are sponsors of the Good News Club, a private Christian organization for children ages 6 to 12. Pursuant to Milford' s policy, they submitted a request to hold the Club' s weekly afterschool meetings in the school. Milford denied the request on the ground that the proposed use -- to sing songs, hear Bible lessons, memorize scripture, and pray -- was the equivalent of religious worship prohibited by the community use policy. Petitioners (collectively, the Club), filed suit under 42 U. S. C. 1983, alleging, inter alia, that the denial of the Club's application violated its free speech rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
And the decision:
1. Milford violated the Club' s free speech rights when it excluded the Club from meeting after hours at the school.

. . .

(b) By denying the Club access to the school's limited public forum on the ground that the Club was religious in nature, Milford discriminated against the Club because of its religious viewpoint in violation of the Free Speech Clause. That exclusion is indistinguishable from the exclusions held violative of the Clause in Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School Dist., 508 U. S. 384, where a school district precluded a private group from presenting films at the school based solely on the religious perspective of the films, and in Rosenberger, where a university refused to fund a student publication because it addressed issues from a religious perspective.

Other U.S. Supreme Court Cases can be found at their website.

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Related Links
o CEDRIC KUSHNER PROMOTIONS, LTD. v. KING, No 00-549
o Findlaw
o ALABAMA v. BOZEMAN, No 00-492
o NGUYEN v. IMMIGRATION & NATURALIZATION SERV., No 99-2071
o KANSAS v. COLORADO, No 105
o KYLLO v. US, No 99-8508
o thermal imaging
o vague
o 468 U. S. 705
o 466 U. S. 170
o GOOD NEWS CLUB v. MILFORD CENT. SCH., No 99-2036
o website.
o Also by zavyman


Display: Sort:
U.S. Supreme Court fires off decisions | 34 comments (29 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
I feel sorry for the school (4.33 / 6) (#5)
by John Milton on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 02:43:03 AM EST

I think the Supreme Court made the right decision on the religion issue, but I have to feel sorry for the school. On this matter, it's seems like you're going to get in trouble no matter what. If they had allowed religious use of the building, they probably would have found their way to court on the opposite charge.

As for the thermal scanners, all I can say is thank god the Supreme Court has been cutting down on crack usage. I wonder what they'll say on consumer camera's with the body heat option.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


Consumer Camera (4.00 / 2) (#12)
by DJBongHit on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 09:36:36 AM EST

As for the thermal scanners, all I can say is thank god the Supreme Court has been cutting down on crack usage.

Not quite sure I get your drift here, but then again I just woke up 2 hours after going to bed and can't get back to sleep :(

I wonder what they'll say on consumer camera's with the body heat option.

From the SCOTUS decision:
Held: Where, as here, the Government uses a device that is not in general public use, to explore details of a private home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion, the surveillance is a Fourth Amendment "search," and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant. Pp. 3--13.

A basis of the ruling was the fact that the police required special equipment that isn't available to the general public, thus saying that infrared radiation isn't fair game for cops to watch even though it's being emitted into the environment. If this type of equipment ends up in general use, the situation will change (and will be akin to a police officer overhearing a conversation in a public place).

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
The leaves such a "great" future... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
by coffee17 on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 02:05:02 PM EST

If this type of equipment ends up in general use, the situation will change (and will be akin to a police officer overhearing a conversation in a public place).

Of course, this is pretty scary, IMHO. What happens if/when some device allows one to easily see thru another's walls? Will such a device become illegal also? Will anyone who wants privacy be required to line their walls with lead, or something similarly stupid? Will we have to kiss privacy good bye?

I would have liked the decision better if it was a bit more along the lines that Yes, the police were actively searching (using an infared detector is not passive, as seeing something occur, or hearing some people talk about something is. Anything which is an active searching for information should have been declared a search; mainly because it is. It's just that instead of searching a specific person, the police were searching the general populace. Merely because they can do it relatively conveniently and without your knowledge does not make it legal. Similarly, if they "found" they key to your house it would not be legal for them to go in and search it when no one is around.

But, I believe that the SCOTUS is supposed to have relatively narrow decisions, and merely address the case at hand (kinda like the MPAA vs. Corley, where while 2600 can show the text URL's, they were merely prevented from linking (Yes, this wasn't the SCOTUS that ruled that, but I thought that in general courts were not supposed to try and be overly sweeping)), so perhaps the wording isn't that horrible of a sign. I just hope that no justices step down for another 4 years... considering who's AG, I'd hate to see GWB's nomination for supreme court...

-coffee


[ Parent ]

I _REALLY_ don't think so (3.00 / 2) (#13)
by Ender Ryan on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 10:21:11 AM EST

Every school I have ever been to had some kind of Bible Club that met after school a few times a week. No one has EVER had a problem with this, not teachers, not students, not school boards, etc., and I really don't see what the big deal was. Wasn't there a Bible club in your schools?

In public schools you can pretty much have any kind of club at all as long as it's after school and is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by the school.

The only thing I can conclude is that someone just didn't want people expressing religious views to children in his school... Well, tough, start an atheists' club ; )


-
Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

We are Kuro5hin!


[ Parent ]

Wondering about practicality (1.00 / 1) (#17)
by PiMaster on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 03:06:27 PM EST

In public schools you can pretty much have any kind of club at all as long as it's after school and is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by the school...start an atheists' club

You see to express the point of view that a school must provide an equal oppurtunity for the expression of conflicting ideas. Have you ever had a pro-legalization speaker in health class? Or perhaps an evolutionist science teacher?
I agree with your ideas, and would like to see it carried out further. However- spreading students' times around between all possible ideas and arguments isn't very practical, and would be very expensive and likely require more school hours. Does anyone have any ideas on how this could be resolved fairly, realistically and constitutionally?


And in the silent, sometimes hardly moving times,
When something is coming near,
I want to be with those that know secret things
or else alone.
--Rilke

[ Parent ]

Have you ever... (4.00 / 1) (#19)
by Anonymous 6522 on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 12:24:56 AM EST

...not had an evolutionist science teacher?

[ Parent ]
not personally, but.... (4.00 / 2) (#21)
by cp on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 01:54:30 AM EST

A friend had a creationist biology teacher at her school in midstate New York. The fellow was also well known for writing anti-abortion op-eds to the school newspaper (which is wholly inappropriate as a matter of respecting students' space in their own newspaper forum, apart from anything else).

[ Parent ]
Not necessarily (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by Vermifax on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 10:27:30 AM EST

In my high school. The newspaper was for both faculty and students and as such both wrote articles and op-ed pieces.
- Welcome to the Federation Starship SS Buttcrack.
[ Parent ]
letters (none / 0) (#25)
by Delirium on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 09:11:16 PM EST

I don't see how that's inappropriate. It's an opinion letter to the school newspaper, which the editors can choose to publish or not publish. At my school at least, the newspaper was intended as a forum for both the teachers and students (as individuals - not as a forum for the school administration). You sure it's not just your bias clouding your view here? Would you have objected to a teacher writing a pro-abortion letter to the editor?

[ Parent ]
Entirely sure (none / 0) (#26)
by cp on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 10:58:38 PM EST

For that newspaper and in that context, it was inappropriate. It's not a political journal or a social pulpit. It's a forum for discussing issues relevant to the school, not one's political hobbyhorses. I'd say the same if he were railing against third-amendment violations (to pick a contrived example) or any other legal/political issue having nothing to do with student life or academia.

[ Parent ]
school papers (none / 0) (#27)
by Delirium on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 11:30:57 PM EST

Perhaps that would be the ideal function of a school paper, but it doesn't seem to be the actual function of school papers. My school paper last year published an editorial from one of the student "reporters" that was calling for greater availability of abortions to people under 18 without parental notification. I personally didn't think it was appropriate, but apparently the administration did, as it was printed and there wasn't much objection (this is a fairly liberal community). This example just seems to be the same thing but from the opposite side of the issue.

[ Parent ]
no, distinguishable (none / 0) (#28)
by cp on Thu Jun 14, 2001 at 12:13:40 AM EST

Students ought to have more leeway in publishing whatever they want in the school paper, since they're theoretically the ones putting it together and have few other outlets. Moreover, the example you gave is at least related to the age group the students comprise and discusses an issue that each student there can potentially face as a member of that age group. The teacher I mentioned made no effort to tailor his op-ed to the context of the student body or the administration, and he could have just as easily submitted it to any local newspaper instead of to his local captive audience.

[ Parent ]
hrm (none / 0) (#29)
by Delirium on Thu Jun 14, 2001 at 12:29:50 AM EST

Hrm, so if it had been an editorial arguing against the availability of abortion to minors, would that have been acceptable? If not, what if it was written by a kid?

Regardless of what "journalistic integrity" there is and whatnot, it'd be pretty hard to get such an article even considered for publication in the paper my highschool had, and probably even harder to get it through my college's paper.

[ Parent ]

right (none / 0) (#30)
by cp on Thu Jun 14, 2001 at 02:17:02 AM EST

Hrm, so if it had been an editorial arguing against the availability of abortion to minors, would that have been acceptable?
In the context of the narrow point I've been making here, then yes, it'd be acceptable. There would be other grounds for attacking it, but it'd at least satisfy most of the bare minimum prerequisites for consideration as a school-newspaper article.

[ Parent ]
My fault (3.00 / 1) (#24)
by PiMaster on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 03:10:01 PM EST

I apologize, I meant to put it as you said, it was my error. Eventually I'll learn to type.


And in the silent, sometimes hardly moving times,
When something is coming near,
I want to be with those that know secret things
or else alone.
--Rilke

[ Parent ]
Creationist Science Teacher (none / 0) (#31)
by idrach on Thu Jun 14, 2001 at 07:06:57 AM EST

In my 2nd year of high school (dunno how that translates into the grade system), my Chemistry teacher was a fundamentalist Christian. At that time, in Scotland, that year was spent doing the basics of organic chemistry. Most lessons started "Some scientists believe that ..." and then carried on pretty much according to the official curriculum. Me, I just thought it a bit sad.

[ Parent ]
RE: Wondering about practicality (none / 0) (#33)
by someone247356 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 03:39:38 PM EST

I think you missed the point. You said:

"You see[m] to express the point of view that a school must provide an equal oppurtunity for the expression of conflicting ideas."

Then you go on to discuss pro-drug health teachers, or pro-evolutionist bio teachers.

I dare say you've missed the point of the USSC decision entirely. It isn't about providing an equal opportunity to express conflicting ideas in the curriculum of a public school. It's about not discriminating based on religiousness of the speaker for the use of the school's PROPERTY.

By allowing various community groups to use the school FACILITIES after school for various functions, the school had created a limited public forum. Once it did that it doesn't have the right to deny the USE OF SCHOOL PROPERTY based on how religious your group happens to be without running afoul of the first amendment right to freedom of religion or speech.

Basically what this ruling should say to schools around the country is that if you let ANY non-school group use your facilities after school, you have to let ALL non-law breaking non-school groups use it.

Pretty straight forward actually.



Just my $0.02 (Canadian, before taxes)


[ Parent ]
hardly of no particular interest (4.00 / 4) (#6)
by cp on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 02:48:26 AM EST

While Nguyen may not be as sexy as Kyllo and the Good News Club case, it's hardly of no particular interest. Nguyen is the latest in a long list of cases pushing the Court's equal-protection analysis in directions I'd rather not see it go.

Ever since Burger replaced Warren as chief justice, the Supreme Court has consistently refused to extend (and has perhaps even contracted) equal protection. We haven't had a new suspect class declared since the early seventies, even though plenty worthy candidates exist (particularly homosexuals). Gender discrimination is also increasingly tolerated by the Court, and Nguyen sure doesn't help.

INS is evil (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by Nyarlathotep on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 03:33:23 AM EST

INS is a very nasty branch of our government and the courts are just helping them make it worse.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
Agreed (4.66 / 3) (#9)
by codemonkey_uk on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 06:49:48 AM EST

The Nguyen case *is* of interest. I'm not 100% on American law, but it seems to me that this is setting a dangerous precedence that devalues the value of the father-child bond.

The legal system (both in America, and elsewhere) is, in my opinion, an emerging source of continued discrimination against males, especially when it comes to parenting, and relationships with women.
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

Suspect classes (4.00 / 1) (#11)
by PresJPolk on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 08:20:45 AM EST

To extend "equal protection" by chopping up American society in to classes, with only some specialy enough to be "suspect", just may not appeal to everyone, and to some seems paradoxical.

In case you didn't notice, the Court used equal protection in Bush v Gore. :-)

[ Parent ]
Oh, I perfectly agree (none / 0) (#20)
by cp on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 01:43:59 AM EST

The whole idea of giving "equal protection" only to suspect classes and distinct and insular minorities (going back to US v. Carolene Products) is wholly inadequate. It fails to give protection to lots of people who deserve it, and it requires the courts to be far more vigilant about declaring new worthy classes in the future, which is fraught with political problems.

I'd much rather see us move to an equal-protection analysis like the one employed under Vermont's equal-protection clause. (See the recent decision in Baker v. State for what I mean.) The US Supreme Court's preoccupation with constraining the field so as not to let the clause run amok and declare all laws invalid (such as their preoccupation with making sure that poor people aren't protected as a class under equal-protection doctrine) has severely limited the scope of the 14th amendment. It's absurd that a postbellum amendment is so constrained by antebellum conservative philosophy.

[ Parent ]

Thermal Imaging Without a Warrant Unconstitutional (4.00 / 2) (#10)
by Merk00 on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 07:55:22 AM EST

I believe the Court decided that thermal imaging without a warrant was unconstitutional because it required a specific intent by the police to operate it. It has been held Consitutional to conduct a passive search of anything. Basically, if the police are driving along, and they happen to look through a window and see marijuana plants (or whatnot) growing, then that search is Constitutional because it is something easily available to the average citizen and is something that the average citizen would be likely to do. This can also apply to technological means. If the average citizen had thermal imaging glasses and worn them regularly, then the police could have used them to look into the house Constitutionally. In general, I believe the Court tries to say that a person has the same right to privacy from the police as they can expect from other citizens. Note that that right of privacy is only for not having a warrant.

------
"At FIRST we see a world where science and technology are celebrated, where kids think science is cool and dream of becoming science and technology heroes."
- FIRST Mission

Pushers (1.05 / 17) (#14)
by hodeestrawsa on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 01:04:51 PM EST

Only one thing explains this: a couple of the black-robed fools got paid off in drug-money. That is the only thing that explains this moronic ruling as it doesn't even make the slightest bit of sense when looked at rationally. It has always been clear that that what a police officer could see from outside a property was fair game, warrent or no. The fact that the police officer is using robot eyes to see the perp's foul emanations does not mean he is invading anything. He is just watching what the perp is broadcasting from well outside of anyone's precious property. If the perp doesn't want to be seen, then he shouldn't be radiating evidence. The laws aren't meant to protect scumbags from their own dimwittedness.

The police have a hard enough time protecting our children, now the court wants to make it harder. I hope they are happy when they see more od'd teenagers discovered floating face down in resevoir, but I suppose the 50" videoscreen purchased with drug-money makes it a little easier on the eyes.
-------------------

Giving fools a clue, free of charge.

protecting your children? (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by coffee17 on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 02:21:45 PM EST

The fact that the police officer is using robot eyes

means that the cop is using special equipment to search the person's permises. Just as a wire tap requires a warrant, so should any active searching.

The reason why it is valid evidence if a cop sees marijuana plants growing in someone's house, or overhears someone on the street trying to sell one, it is because this is passive, I.E. it's *not* a search.

Besides, if you really wanted to protect your children you should be less worried about a pot grower, and more worried about the tobaco and alcohol industries (and the anti-tobaco ads, are now going prime time making sure that any teenager with any rebeliousness will know that smoking is something they want to do), which are more harmful than pot is.

-coffee


[ Parent ]

Child-Protectors (3.66 / 3) (#18)
by PiMaster on Tue Jun 12, 2001 at 03:46:50 PM EST

I'd be interested in how you came to the conclusion that arresting drug users and drug producers protects your children. I'd also be interested in you citing a case on which somebody has a) od'd on marijuana or b) died from marijuana use. I also wonder how many less floating overdosed teenagers we would have if we removed the threat of jailtime if for exposing themselves and give them the medical treatment that might actually help(if they desire it).


And in the silent, sometimes hardly moving times,
When something is coming near,
I want to be with those that know secret things
or else alone.
--Rilke

[ Parent ]
Sex Crimes... (4.00 / 3) (#22)
by Elkor on Wed Jun 13, 2001 at 10:03:30 AM EST

Out of curiosity, are you aware of any sex crime laws active in your area? I'll bet you have some, whether it be proscriptions from fornication, unnatural acts, Orgies, whatever.

I doubt you would like to be busted for adultery because the cop saw someone enter your house and then later noticed that your "heat emmissions" were really close together.

And while, yes, it would be easy enough (though rather embarassing) for your dance instructor to have to explain that she wasn't a prostitute, why should you be put in that situation in the first place?

Then try convincing your wife of that.

You laugh, but it would be the next logical step for this technology. (to me, anyway).

Regards,
Elkor
"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
A Defeat for Freedom of Religion (3.00 / 2) (#32)
by mkc on Sun Jun 17, 2001 at 02:53:17 AM EST

and in another, the freedom of religious belief clause of the First Amendment is duly protected

This hardly seems like an unbiased, or even correct, interpretation of this decision. The decision chips away at the establishment clause, reducing the separation of church and state, and ultimately reducing freedom of religion for all of us.
-- Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a day. Give him a patent on fishing and he can enjoy watching everyone else starve every day.

Re: A Defeat for Freedom of Religion (none / 0) (#34)
by someone247356 on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 04:21:55 PM EST

I don't get it.

How does saying that schools, once they have established a limited public forum, cannot show hostility toward religion in the availability of school (public) property after school hours "...chips away at the establishment clause, reducing the separation of church and state, and ultimately reducing freedom of religion for all of us...."?

The establishment clause requires that the government be NEUTRAL towards religion. Neither establishing, nor punishing any religion. The school in question was being HOSTILE toward the group because of its religious message. In effect the school was ESTABLISHING non-religion. If your group was not religious you can use our school for your meetings after school, but if it is religious, sorry, we don't want your kind here. You might be corrupting the minds of our children.

Try substituting the religion of your choice for non-religion. Most people would quickly see the problem. Just because it's non-religion (hostility toward religion) doesn't make it ok. (i.e. If your group was Baptist you can use our school for your meetings after school, but if it is Athiest, or Catholic, or Jewish, sorry, we don't want your kind here. You might be corrupting the minds of our children. See what I mean?)

Being denied the right to worship, or wear the symbols of your religion, or use public facilities BECAUSE you are religious doesn't reduce religious freedom for anyone. Being able to do those things is the DEFINITION of religious freedom.

just my $0.02 (Canadian, before taxes)

[ Parent ]
U.S. Supreme Court fires off decisions | 34 comments (29 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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