By Kevin Gosztola
Flickr Photo by bobster855
A Supreme Court decision on Monday stated that federal official could hold people who are considered “sexually dangerous” indefinitely even if their prison terms have been served completely.
The idea of keeping sexually dangerous people off the streets is not a bad one until you think of the enforcement mechanisms. Who gets to decide who is sexually dangerous and who is it? Aren’t these the same people who go to work with politicians who themselves have committed sex crimes?
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion:
“The statute is a ‘necessary and proper’ means of exercising the federal authority that permits Congress to create federal criminal laws, to punish their violation, to imprison violators, to provide appropriately for those imprisoned and to maintain the security of those who are not imprisoned by who may be affected by the federal imprisonment of others.”
Justice Clarence Thomas dissented (not because he found indefinite detention to be a violation of one’s civil liberties but because he found it to be a violation of state’s rights):
The Associated Press 3:01 PM Thursday, April 29, 2010
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that a proposed amendment by groups seeking to exclude the state from President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul should appear as a single issue on the ballot.
The Thursday decision reverses a finding by the Ohio Ballot Board, which had split the issue proposed by the Ohio Liberty Council and others into two separate ballot measures.
The court says the board abused its discretion and disregarded state law and ordered it to certify the proposed amendment.
The Liberty Council tea party group wants voters to approve the Ohio constitutional amendment that would allow the state to opt out of the health care law signed in March.
If supporters get enough petition signatures, the issue would appear on the November ballot.
Read the Ohio Supreme Court decision here. Especially (fore-)telling is paragraph 30:
AP – The Kansas City Board of Education building.
Heather Hollingsworth, Associated Press Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Facing potential bankruptcy, the board that governs the once flush-with-cash Kansas City school district is taking the unusual and contentious step of shuttering almost half its schools.
Administrators say the closures are necessary to keep the district from plowing through what little is left of the $2 billion it received as part of a groundbreaking desegregation case. The Kansas City school board narrowly approved the plan to close 29 out of 61 schools Wednesday night at a meeting packed with angry parents. The schools will close before the fall.
Although other districts nationwide are considering closures as the recession ravages their budgets, Kansas City’s plan is striking. In rapidly shrinking Detroit, 29 schools closed before classes began this fall, but that still left the district with 172 schools. Most other districts are closing just one or two schools.
Emotional board member Duane Kelly told the crowd of more than 200 people Wednesday night, “This is the most painful vote I have ever cast” in 10 years on the board. Some chanted for the removal of the superintendent, while one woman asked the crowd, “Is anyone else ready to homeschool their children?”
Kansas City Councilwoman Sharon Sanders Brooks said the closure plan had prompted some housing developers to consider backing out of projects.
“The urban core has suffered white flight post-the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. the Board of Education, blockbusting by the real estate industry, redlining by banks and other financial institutions, retail and grocery store abandonment,” Brooks said to applause from the standing-room-only crowd.
Hat tip: Reason Magazine
March 4, 2010
The hearings in McDonald v. Chicago promise an unrevolutionary victory—but still an important one.
Justice Antonin Scalia delivered the big laugh line of the hour at Tuesday’s Supreme Court hearings in McDonald v. Chicago. That case’s outcome will decide whether the Second Amendment rights vindicated in 2008’s D.C. v. Heller apply to states and localities. Scalia amused the crowd by asking a question that has perplexed some legal scholars and gun activists both for and against McDonald lawyer Alan Gura’s general goal of applying Second Amendment protections to all levels of American government.
To get the joke, such as it was, you first need the background about what was at stake. The Bill of Rights was originally interpreted to bind only the federal government. The framers of the 14th Amendment intended to change that, and bind the states as well in respecting Americans’ rights. This was in 1868, when recently freed slaves had their rights to work, own property, and bear arms widely abused and unprotected by state and local governments.
The history of the 14th Amendment’s passage indicates that a certain part of the amendment was meant to bear the interpretive burden of applying—“incorporating” in the legal lingo—the Bill of Rights (and other restrictions on government power) to the states. That was the Privileges or Immunities Clause: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”