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Supreme Court 2001

Supreme Court 2002

Supreme Court 2003

U.S. Supreme Court — 2003

Below are archived updates on important cases at the Supreme Court affecting individual rights.

Center Files Amicus Brief in Pledge of Allegiance Case

Arguing that a two-judge majority of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit "plainly erred" in declaring the voluntary recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in the public schools unconstitutional, the Center for Individual Freedom filed an amicus brief today with the U.S. Supreme Court urging the Court to reverse the lower court’s judgment and restore the constitutionality of our official Pledge of Allegiance nationwide...[more]

Tyranny of the Minority: Newdow’s Methods Threaten Far More than the Pledge of Allegiance

By Erin Murphy: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit drew criticism from both ends of the spectrum last year when it ruled that the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance are unconstitutional. Even Congress managed to unite on the issue, and most Americans anxiously anticipate an overruling next year when the case is decided by the Supreme Court. But more troubling than the possibility of the High Court declaring us a Godless nation is the legitimacy such a ruling would grant to the Rev. Dr. Michael Newdow, who brought the case...[more]

Send in the Clowns: Atheist Reverend to Argue His "Under God" Challenge Before High Court

By Erin Murphy: The Court recently granted atheist Michael Newdow permission to represent himself in his suit to remove "under God" from the Pledge. Newdow — lawyer, medical doctor and founder and reverend of the First Amendmist Church of True Science — doesn’t technically have standing to argue before the High Court because he has been a member of the bar for less than the required three years, but the Court agreed to let him argue anyway...[more]

Affirmative Action Aftershocks

The legal landscape of the Equal Protection Clause is only now beginning to feel the aftershocks of the constitutional earthquake that shook a generation’s worth of jurisprudence when a bare majority of the U.S. Supreme Court held that an applicant’s race could be a factor in college admissions despite the Fourteenth Amendment...[more]

Supreme Court to Hear Pledge of Allegiance Case

The U.S. Supreme Court granted review Tuesday in the case challenging the constitutionality of including the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Court will review a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that found the addition of the words "under God" transformed the Pledge from being a secular statement of patriotism into a violation of the First Amendment right against government establishment of religion...[more]

Enacting McCain-Feingold By ‘Buying Time’

As the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court draft the decision that will determine the constitutional fate of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), also known as McCain Feingold, they probably won’t be relying on two studies commissioned and circulated by "reformers" as unbiased scholarly evidence of the law’s constitutionality. Indeed, the rigors of the BCRA litigation have exposed that the two studies – commissioned, conducted, and published by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law (Brennan Center) and submitted to and relied upon by members of Congress when passing BCRA – were little more than misinformation fed to our elected representatives with the goal of enacting McCain-Feingold at any cost...[more]

Nike: Just Settling for Silence

After five years of vigorously arguing that corporations possess the same full First Amendment rights as individuals when it comes to speaking on matters of public concern, Nike signed away its free speech protections – as well as those of corporations nationwide – when, on Friday, it settled a landmark case brought against the company by anti-business activist Marc Kasky...[more]

Supreme Reliance on Buckley: The Necessary Vote to the Chief’s Left

To be sure, predicting how Supreme Court justices will vote based upon the questions asked during oral arguments is the legal equivalent of reading tea leaves. But after four full hours of Supreme judicial inquiry and carefully crafted responses in the constitutional challenges to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, a.k.a. BCRA or McCain-Feingold, the overwhelming impression left on the informed Court watcher had to be that, once again, the single vote that mattered sat to the immediate left of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. And that vote, properly addressed, is Justice Sandra Day O’Connor...[more]

The Second Monday in September

It won’t be a quiet recess day at the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. Instead, this year on September 8th, the halls will be bustling with attorneys, reporters, and interested Court watchers, and the justices will have already returned to our nation’s capital ready to emerge from behind the curtains for their first sitting this fall. Monday, if you don’t already know, is the day the Court will hear four full hours of arguments in the most important political speech case to be decided by the Court in more than a quarter century – namely the consolidated constitutional challenges to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), popularly known as McCain-Feingold...[more]

A Statistical Look at the Supreme Court Term

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ended another term full of high-profile cases, controversial decisions, and a much-speculated but non-occurring retirement. Handing down 80 decisions, the High Court issued landmark rulings in areas such as affirmative action, the right to privacy, free speech, federalism and punitive damages. But taken as a whole, the Court‚s latest term reveals a continuing trend for the Court to fully review fewer cases while reversing the vast majority of those taken.

To read more, visit the Center for Individual Freedom Foundation

U.S. Supreme Court Keeps a Watchful Eye on the 9th Circuit

Long considered the federal court breeding ground for judicial activism, the 9th Circuit has been the federal appeals court most often overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in recent years. And, as shown by statistics compiled by the Center for Individual Freedom Foundation, the High Court‚s recently completed October Term, 2002, proved to be no exception to the 9th Circuit‚s disfavored place amongst the justices.

To read more, visit the Center for Individual Freedom Foundation

‘A 25-Year License to Violate the Constitution’

The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken, and according to a slim five justice majority in Grutter v. Bollinger, No. 02-241, “race unfortunately still matters.”  In fact, despite constitutional and statutory prohibitions to the contrary — namely, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — apparently race matters enough that a majority of the High Court is willing simply to “take [colleges and universities] at [their] word” that they need to discriminate on the basis of skin color and ethnic heritage in order to admit and enroll racially diverse student bodies...[more]

McCain-Feingold Challengers File Opening Briefs in Supreme Court

The first shots in the High Court battle over the constitutionality of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 were fired Tuesday when attorneys for Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Center for Individual Freedom and the other plaintiffs challenging the law filed their opening briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court...[more]

Nike v. Kasky: The Supreme Court Won’t Just Do It

The five-letter word of the day for Nike, Inc. is “rerun.”  That’s because, in just nine words (“The writ of certiorari is dismissed as improvidently granted”), the United States Supreme Court effectively told Nike that it would see it again at least three years from now, after the California Supreme Court takes another look at the seminal commercial speech case of Nike v. Kasky...[more]

Filtering the First Amendment

On Monday, the Supreme Court held that the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) does not violate the First Amendment Free Speech Clause.  The decision, United States v American Library Association, No. 02-361, paves the way for the Act to be enforced against public libraries across the nation...[more]

Benign ‘Strict Scrutiny’?

Monday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the two most anticipated rulings of this term — decisions resolving, at least for now, the constitutionality of race-conscious affirmative action programs at institutions of higher education.  In split decisions, the Court ruled that colleges and universities can consider an applicant’s race as a “plus” factor supporting admission, but, at the same time, such racial preferences must be flexibly used “in the context of individualized consideration of each and every applicant” and should be part of a broader admissions policy that considers “‘all pertinent elements of diversity.’”...[more]

McCain-Feingold’s High Court Opening Act

Back on March 25, when the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Federal Election Commission v. Beaumont, No. 02-403, High Court watchers and campaign finance wonks took notice not because they thought the decision would dramatically alter the landscape of federal campaign finance law, but because of the much anticipated headline act still waiting in the wings — namely, the constitutional challenges to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), popularly known as McCain-Feingold...[more]

Three-Judge Panel Blocks Its Own Campaign Finance Ruling, Supreme Court Will Decide McCain-Feingold’s Fate

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) is once again the “law of the land” in its entirety thanks to the same federal court that struck down and upheld portions of the law in a ruling that took the three judges four separate opinions and 1575 pages to explain.  The stay issued Monday means that the decision of the three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will be suspended until the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of McCain-Feingold, likely to be as late as next fall or winter...[more]

High Court Refuses to Block McCain-Feingold Ruling on Issue Ads

The Supreme Court refused to intervene on an emergency basis Tuesday to stay parts of a lower court’s ruling upholding federal restrictions on advocacy groups that wish to air political issue advertisements...[more]

The Bijudicial Campaign Reform Act of 2003

Late last Friday, a specially appointed panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued its ruling in the consolidated constitutional challenges brought against the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, popularly known as McCain-Feingold...[more]

First Amendment Issues Surround Term’s Last Day of Arguments

The First Amendment dominated at the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday as the justices heard the last scheduled arguments of the current term. In the courtroom, the justices heard the case of Virginia v. Hicks, No. 02-371, which raises the issue whether a policy of Richmond, Virginia, making the streets and sidewalks around a crime-ridden public housing project off-limits to non-residents infringes upon the First Amendment rights of those who may wish to use such a traditionally public space for speech, demonstrations, and leafleting...[more]

Nike v. Kasky: The Argument that Just Didn’t Do It for Me

By Erik S. Jaffe: Oral argument yesterday in Nike v. Kasky was both more and less interesting than expected. On the plus side, several Justices seemed to be considering either substantially narrowing or shunting to the side the commercial speech doctrine, a position strongly supported by the Center for Individual Freedom in its amicus brief...[more]

High Court Cracks Down on Punitive Damage Awards

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down a $145 million punitive damages verdict against the nation’s largest automobile insurance company ruling that such an award was “neither reasonable, nor proportionate to the wrong committed, and … was an irrational and arbitrary deprivation of property of the [corporate] defendant.” ...[more]

Burning to Say Something

Monday, the Supreme Court partly upheld and partly rejected a Virginia ban on cross-burning.  It's tempting to see this case as a victory for those who want to restrict "hate speech" — tempting but incorrect...[more]

Will High Court Eliminate Race Factor in Admissions?
Justices’ Questions Suggest Perhaps Not

The U.S. Supreme Court heard vigorous arguments Tuesday challenging the affirmative action admissions policies employed by the University of Michigan’s undergraduate and law schools, but the questions asked by the two likely swing votes, Justices Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor, seemed to signal their unwillingness to make race wholly off-limits in the college admissions process...[more]

The Not So Little Secret of Statutory Language

The U.S. Supreme Court taught the owners of well-known trademarks the basics of legal reading and writing last week.  (Make that “statutory construction and drafting” for all the licensed attorneys out there.)...[more]

What Do Harry Potter, Captain Underpants and Huck Finn Have in Common?

Still three months away from the scheduled release of the fifth in the best-selling series by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter is back in the news and topping the charts.  But this time it’s not The New York Times Bestseller List or the weekend box office numbers.  According to the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, Harry Potter tops the list of books most challenged in 2002...[more]

‘Three Strikes’ Sentences Ruled Safe by High Court

The highest umpire in the land declared on Wednesday that the criminal justice system may impose stiff sentences, including life imprisonment, for repeat offenders under so-called “three strikes” laws without violating the constitutional prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments” contained in the Eighth Amendment...[more] 

Law School Admissions to the University of Michigan… By the Numbers

• 100% … the percentage of African-American, Hispanic, and Native American applicants admitted in 2000 with grade point averages between 3.00 and 3.24 (B) and LSAT scores between 156-158 (between the 70th and 80th percentiles nationally) • 0% … the percentage of Asian and Caucasian applicants admitted in 2000 with grade point averages between 3.00 and 3.24 (B) and LSAT scores between 156-158 (between the 70th and 80th percentiles nationally)...[more]

Legacies:  The “Where’s Waldo” of Constitutional Law

Having filed what we believe is a fairly cogent brief against the University of Michigan’s unconstitutional admissions policies, we have a modicum of interest in the public debate that is as inevitable as the sun rising...[more]

Undergraduate Admissions to the University of Michigan… By the Numbers

• 100… the minimum number of points an applicant needs to be guaranteed admission • 20… the number of points an applicant receives for being African-American, Hispanic, or Native American  • 0… the number of points an applicant receives for being Arab, Asian, or Caucasian...[more]

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Nike Can Just Do It

The United States Supreme Court last Friday granted Nike’s petition to review Nike, Inc. v. Kasky, a seminal commercial speech case with broad implications for corporations across America...[more]

Supreme Court Extends Disney Magic into Never Land;
The Constitutionality of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act

Like the immortal Peter Pan, copyrights may never grow old or expire following the United States Supreme Court’s ruling this week that gave Congress the right to repeatedly extend copyright protection.  In a big victory for Walt Disney Company and other copyright holders of characters, songs, books and creations, the Supreme Court ruled that the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 was neither overreaching by Congress, nor a violation of free-speech rights...[more]

Center Files Amicus Brief on Affirmative Action in U.S. Supreme Court

Arguing that affirmative action admissions programs violate both Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Center for Individual Freedom filed an amicus brief on January 16 urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the racial and ethnic preferences used by the University of Michigan’s undergraduate and law schools in their admissions...[more]

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Supreme Court 2001 • Supreme Court 2002 • Supreme Court 2003