The Stormin' Mormon

  

Monday, June 23, 2003

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has opened its last week with a frenzy of decisions. How Appealing has today's announcements. The first one, American Ins. Assn. v. Garamendi, has to do with whether state law can interfere with presidential foreign policy, specificaly regarding holocaust compensation. The next, Green Tree Financial Corp. v. Bazzle, dealt with an aspect of contract law.

Now to the biggies: Affirmative Action and Free Speech. In Grutter v. Bollinger the Court upheld the U of Michigan Law School's Affirmative Action policy. It said the state interest in promoting diversity was enough ot justify the actions, and that they were not unconstitutional quotas in the traditional sense. However, there are encouraging signs that the Court will one day find all affirmative actions programs unconstitutional. The first was an expectation in the decision that such programs will no longer be needed to encourage diversity in about 25 years. The second was that in a related case, Gratz v. Bollinger the same school's undergraduate admission scheme was unconstitutional. In this situation, it appeared that affirmative action was no longer nessiscary to obtain the level of diversity desired, and the system used, adding 20 points for minority applicants (more than most academic bonuses and 1/5th of hte 100 points neede to be guaranteed admission), was more offensive than the system used by the Law School. Justices O'Conner and Breyer, predicatably, were the swing votes. Grutter was a 5/4 and Gratz was a 6/3.

The final case released today was United States v. American Library Assn., Inc. This was the case over internet filtering in libraries. Congress decided, that in order to recieve federal funds, a library had to install filtering programs to prevent minors from accessing porn. Some librarians sued, claiming such filtering was a violation of the First Amendment. Today the Court held that the filtering program did not violate the First Amendment, because it did not restrict patrons ability to speak or express themselves but only what information they could access. Libraries commonly make such decisions when stocking books. Most libraries refuse to stock pornographic magazines, and that was not found to be unconstitutional, so the principle was extended to hte internet. As such, the Federal spending bill was Constitutional.

Comments please. I'd like to say more but I must find a way to narrow it down.

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