...the Supreme Court will consider legal fights over cross burning, the rights of abortion protesters, repeat criminals and sex offenders, and even trademark protection for lingerie maker Victoria's Secret. "Take Me Out to the Courthouse":
Opening Day of the Supreme Court’s October Term, 2002

The United States Supreme Court opened its new term on Monday with the traditional call of "Oyez, Oyez, Oyez" as all the spectators rose. But for more than 1,000 cases with certiorari petitions pending, it was a day of plunges as the Court announced its first list of cases turned down for appeal following its three-month summer break.

Among the fallen is Ronald White, a tattoo artist who has been fighting a tattoo ban in South Carolina since 1999, when he was arrested for giving an illegal tattoo that was later broadcast on television. Oklahoma and South Carolina are the only states to ban tattooing. The Center filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to grant Mr. White’s appeal. The Center’s brief, in part, argues that freedom of expression protected under the First Amendment extends to all artistic expression without regard to message conveyed or medium employed by the artist. (To read the Center’s brief, click here.) The denial is disappointing and leaves no option for Mr. White other than to seek relief through legislative efforts.

Overall, the Court receives approximately 8,000 appeals annually, and only hears about 80 cases. The Court already has accepted 45 cases for the term, which will run through next June. Among the 45, the Court will consider legal fights over cross burning, the rights of abortion protesters, repeat criminals and sex offenders, and even trademark protection for lingerie maker Victoria's Secret. Many Supreme Court enthusiasts believe the Court is keeping its docket light to save room for the almost-certain appeals in the campaign finance reform arena and post-911 liberty cases.

On a lighter note, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, age 78, is reported as opening the new term by announcing a retirement—his own. Perhaps in a Freudian slip, Rehnquist said the Court "notes the retirement of the Chief Justice"—then, realizing his error, quickly corrected himself and said the Court was saying goodbye to Frank Lorson, the Court’s chief deputy clerk.

October 11, 2002
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