Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A dark day for the judiciary

Ed Brayton has posts up about the recent Supreme Court rulings, Hein v. Freedom From Religion Coalition and Morse v. Frederick.

About the ruling decision in Hein, he says:
So in essence they are arguing that a taxpayer has standing to bring an establishment clause suit against any spending mandated by Congressional legislation, but not to challenge any spending that is laundered through the executive branch first. As long as Congress gives that money to the executive branch as part of a general appropriation and the executive branch spends it unconstitutionally, no one has standing to challenge the expenditure. Seem silly? That's because it is.

And about Morse:
This ruling is much broader than I expected. I expected a narrow ruling in the school's favor, one that perhaps said something like this: "This was an official school event where students could reasonably expect to follow the normal school rules. Just as a student could not unfurl such a banner during a school assembly or during class time, such behavior was disruptive of the event taking place and the school reasonably took action to stop that disruptive behavior."

Frankly, i would have been okay with a ruling like that. But this ruling is far broader and is explicitly based on the content of the speech, the fact that it allegedly advocates drug use. That is what disturbs me about the ruling. If the school can censor any speech that it deems to be contrary to an important societal message, as this ruling clearly gives them grounds to do, there is a serious danger of quelling speech that merely advocates a position the school does not like. Indeed, that is precisely what happened here. The Court said, in effect, "we think doing drugs is bad and therefore you don't get to express a contrary message." That is clearly contrary to the first amendment.

Best to read the full posts.

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