Presentation on theme: "Politics and the Courts While the US Supreme Court is not an elected institution, many people still characterize the court as either liberal or conservative."— Presentation transcript:
Politics and the Courts While the US Supreme Court is not an elected institution, many people still characterize the court as either liberal or conservative
What does a liberal justice believe? Expansion in the rights of privacy, abortion, birth control, free speech and other decisions that expand personal liberty Expansion of rights for those accused or convicted of crimes Expansion of the governments role in regulating the economy A belief in an evolving constitution (Tend to be appointed by Democrats)
What does a conservative judge believe? More comfortable with government intervention in areas such as birth control, free speech, abortion and other areas of personal liberty. Limiting rights of those accused or convicted of crimes Less government intervention in the economy A stricter interpretation of the constitution (Tend to be appointed by Republicans)
Evolving standard vs. Strict interpretation Evolving standard -- The Constitution can evolve as the country does – new rights can emerge as the society begins to feel that those rights need to be protected Strict interpretation– The Constitution means what it says and what the founders intended – new rights can only emerge through the amendment process
So do we now have a liberal or conservative court? To determine that you look at the cases that the court has decided and try to find a pattern
Consider these decisions from the current Rhenquist court Rust v Sullivan (1991) Employees of federally financed family planning clinics can be forbidden from discussing abortion California v. Greenwood (1988) The police can search your garbage without a warrant Lucas v South Carolina Coastal Council (1992) The government may have to compensate property owners if it places restrictions on land development
Rehnquist cont... Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v Casey (1992) The state can place a 24-hour waiting period on abortions Lockyer v Andrade (2002) It is constitutional to sentence someone to jail for 25 years for shoplifting $150 in videotapes Hazelwood School District v Kuhlmeier (1988) Schools can censor school newspapers
Rehnquist cont... Lawrence and Garner v Texas (2003) Court strikes down Texas sodomy laws as an unconstitutional violation of privacy rights Reno v American Civil Liberties Union (1997) The government cannot ban indecent material on the Internet because it would be a violation of free speech Kyllo V. US (2000) Police cannot use heat- sensitive cameras to see inside your house without a warrant
So why does the Rehnquist court sometimes rule conservative and sometimes liberal ? Because the courts three liberals are sometimes able to convince the courts two swing votes to side with them
How does the Rehnquist court break down? Conservatives: William Rehnquist (Nixon), Antonin Scalia (Reagan), Clarence Thomas (Bush), David Souter (Bush) Liberals: John Stevens (Ford), Stephen Breyer (Clinton), Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Clinton) Swing votes: Anthony Kennedy (Reagan), Sandra Day OConnor (Reagan)
What about previous courts? How do their decisions match up against the Rehnquist court?
The Burger Court (1969-1986) Roe v Wade (1973) The court ruled that women have the right to receive an abortion because of the implied right of privacy Massachusetts v. Sheppard (1984) Evidence gained during a search with an improper search warrant could be allowed if the police acted in good faith. Furman v Georgia (1972) The death penalty is unconstitutional if it is more commonly applied to poor and minority defendants.
The Warren Court (1953-1969) Mapp v Ohio (1962) Illegally gathered evidence is not admissible in court Miranda v Arizona (1966) Criminal defendants must be told of their rights before they are interrogated. Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) A law banning the use of contraceptives was found unconstitutional because of the implied right of privacy