Thursday Morning Supreme Court Round-Up


The Supreme Court issued its final three decisions of the term this morning, and pinched off a couple of steamy floaters in the process.

In Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1, the Court struck down two voluntary public school integration plans as unconstitutional because they took race into account when deciding where to assign students. The judgment was 5-4, with an extremely unhelpful Kennedy concurrence controlling the outcome. Chief Justice Roberts, writing for the conservative plurality, apparently thinks that Brown v. Board of Education wasn't really about school integration. The Chief Justice also explained that the Civil War wasn't about slavery, vanilla ice cream would taste exactly the same without sugar or vanilla, and that whole "asteroid hitting the earth" thing in Armageddon was just a minor sub-plot. In response to critics who claim that Roberts is going back on his promise to be a moderate justice rather than a maniacal precedent slasher, Roberts explained that he never explicitly promised not to overturn Brown v. Board.

Justice Kennedy's concurrence agrees with the result but hems and haws about Roberts' reasoning, tossing around a bunch of equivocations and hypotheticals and suggesting that race-sensitive school assignment programs could be constitutional in a world that exists entirely inside Kennedy's own imagination. The most immediate results of this decision, apart from the invalidation of the two specific programs at issue, will be (1) lots more litigation about such programs elsewhere, with circuit court judges hither and yon having plenty of freedom to put their own respective stinks on the issue, and (2) additional significance placed on the Supreme Court during the 2008 presidential campaign. This issue is a lot more nuanced than quota-based affirmative action, and spin doctors will be able to get a great deal of mileage out of it going forward (I mean political consultants, not the 90s alternative rock band).

In the less sexy but comparably ominous decision of Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc., the same 5-4 split eliminated one of the last surviving per se rules in antitrust law. This means that antitrust law basically no longer exists in the United States. When reporters questioned the head of the DOJ's Antitrust Division about the future of his department in light of this ruling, he said, "I ain't done shit in years" and returned to an in-progress game of Minesweeper.

Finally, in Panetti v. Quarterman, a more palatable decision to my tastes, Justice Kennedy jumped the fence and joined the liberal justices in reversing the death sentence of a mentally ill inmate. The Court held that the Fifth Circuit (home of the Great State of Texas, where the motto is "Don't mess with Texas or we'll lethally inject you where you stand") applies too strict of a standard in determining whether a death row inmate understands what's going on regarding his own execution. Justice Thomas reiterated his position that the Eighth Amendment doesn't apply to lethal injection because chemistry hadn't been invented yet when the amendment was adopted. Justice Scalia, who often brings his shotgun to court, had to be restrained from shooting the defendant himself.

The Court is now in recess until October. I'll be keeping you up to date on any interesting summer media appearances by the justices. While I imagine that the press may be done with their John Roberts puff pieces, Justice Scalia is sure to embarrass himself and the Court at least once with some sort of flippant comment or obscene gesture. I'll keep my ears up.


HA! I laughed out loud during most of the Texas paragraph. Big nod. I'm sad this Supreme Court roundup has to end just as I was falling in love with it. If you want to make up some wacky SC hijinks over the summer, I for one will have no idea they're fake. Go to town.

Don't sell the band short. Little Miss Can't Be Voluntarily Integrated is a great tune.

Heeey, one two races stand before you, that's what I said now. Races, races who adore you. Just go ahead now. One has diamonds in its pockets, and that's some bread now. This one is burdened with the legacy of slavery and years of a prejudiced justice system and electoral college. Ain't in your head now.

man, I am sorry about that. I get all giddy when I have work to do.

except the asteroid *was* a minor subplot. the major one was the tender relationship between ben affleck and liv tyler.

Re: Leegin Products: I think you're underestimating what our esteemed governmental agencies are actually doing for us. For example, I thank god daily that the FTC is prosecuting the insidious monopoly that would be Whole Foods/Wild Oats. I live in terror of the organic grocery empire....

Clearly, the government's hatred of hippies outweighs its disdain for antitrust regulation.

Other Blogs

Law-Type Blogs

Other Webcomics

Log Archives

eXTReMe Tracker

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by hb published on June 28, 2007 9:11 AM.

What in God's Name is the Matter with You People? was the previous entry in this blog.

The Nintendo Generation is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 5.04