2000 News Archive
This page is an archive of articles presented on the Current News page of the USConstitution.net site. On this page are articles that were posted in 2000.
12/28/00 2000 census figures released
The U.S. Census has released state population totals from the 2000 enumeration. Eight states gained representatives in the House under the new numbers, with ten states losing. Gaining two seats are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Texas. California, Colorado, Nevada, and North Carolina all gained one seat. Losing two seats are New York and Pennsylvania. Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin each lost one seat. California now tips the scales with 53 seats. All states had positive growth over the last census in 1990, with North Dakota and West Virginia at just over a half-percent growth. Highest was Nevada with 66 percent growth. Redistricting will now occur for the 2002 House elections.
12/21/00 Bush resigns as Governor of Texas
Making it official, George Bush resigned as Governor of Texas today, turning over the reins to Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry. Bush had two years remaining in his second four-year term as Governor.
11/27/00 Court refuses to hear video gambling case
The Supreme Court today refused to hear the case of video gambling machine owners whose wares were made illegal by South Carolina. Claiming the law amounted to an illegal taking, the owners lost in the state Supreme Court, ruling that when the law came into effect, the machines became contraband and were subject to seizure. The state court noted that the machines could have been sold out of state prior to the ban's effective date.
11/14/00 2000 Presidential race still uncertain
For up-to-date information on the 2000 Presidential Election returns, please see the Election 2000 Notes Page.
11/06/00 Court schedules busy slate of cases to hear
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear another series of cases this term, several of which have interesting constitutional implications. Included is a case against a Missouri law that "brands" term-limit opponents on state-issued ballots, and a dispute between free-lance authors and newspapers over copyright issues and the distribution of stories in electronic databases. The Court refused to hear an appeal by Omnipoint Communications, a cellular phone company, which sued to force Newtown Township, Penn., to allow it to erect a cell phone antenna in the town. Last week, the Court decided to hear a search and seizure case brought by Charles McArthur against the Sullivan, Ill., Police - McArthur was prevented from entering his trailer while police obtained a warrant to search the trailer. During the search, police found marijuana plants for which McArthur was convicted of misdemeanor drug possession. The issue is whether McArthur should have been allowed back into the trailer, in which he lived, while the police obtained the warrant.
10/30/00 Court refuses to hear case of the coin-flipping juror
The Supreme Court rejected the case of a man convicted on a cocaine charge whose fate was apparently decided by the flip of a coin. In 1995, Isidro Samuel Reyes was convicted to seven years in prison when a hold-out juror decided to change his vote in the jury room after flipping a coin to decide to convict. The appeals judges in California ruled that the decision of one juror based on a coin toss did not taint the jury as a coin toss to decide the outcome for the whole jury would have. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, leaving the appeals court ruling to stand.
10/25/00 Calls for repeal of Alabama miscegenation rule ring out
Section 102 of Alabama's state constitution prohibits the state legislature from passing any law allowing whites to marry blacks. Though once common, this section is the only remaining such section in any constitution in any state, and calls to repeal the unconstitutional and unenforceable section are beginning to grow. A significant number of Alabamans, 19 percent, say they are personally opposed to mixed-race marriages, which could mean contentious debate in the state as repeal efforts progress.
10/16/00 Supreme Court chooses special master for dispute between Alaska and United States
The Supreme Court today appointed Gregory Maggs to referee for it in a dispute between Alaska and the United States over which government has jurisdiction over submerged lands in Alaska's Tongass National Forest and in the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Retaining jurisdiction over the submerged lands of Alexander Archipelago would give Alaska the ability to regulate what happens in those waters; most notably, fishing rights. The National Park Service is in the process of phasing out all fishing in the archipelago. The case is Alaska v US, 128 Original. Such cases typically take years to research and resolve.
10/16/00 Court rejects full voting rights for residents of Washington D.C.
The Supreme Court stated today that residents of Washington D.C. do not have the right to elect Senators and Representatives - only for electors for the Electoral College, as provided in the 23rd Amendment. The Court rejected arguments that voting for members of Congress is a fundamental right, noting that the Constitution provides special status for the city which can only be changed through political processes, and not through the courts. Proponents of the change noted that of all citizens, only children, convicted criminals, and residents of Washington D.C. are denied full voting rights (Editor's note: this is not entirely true, as states decide if convicted criminals can vote, and residents of Puerto Rico have no federal suffrage rights in spite of their status as citizens).
10/02/00 Court allows alcohol maker to infringe on Cuban trademark
Without comment, the Supreme Court let stand an appeals court ruling that stated that the Bacardi company could sell Havana Club rum in the United States. Havana Club rum is produced in the Bahamas. Havana Club Holdings, a Cuban company, sued under federal law and the terms of an international treaty. Lower courts had ruled that under the US trade embargo of Cuba, the Cuban company had no standing. Bacardi argued that the Havana Club name had been stolen by Fidel Castro's regime, and the legitimate owners of the trademark had sold the name to Bacardi.
10/02/00 Court lets stand government-required copyright infringement
The Supreme Court today let stand a lower court ruling that permitted copyright violation when said violation is required by the government. In the case, Smithkline Beecham Consumer Healthcare v. Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., Watson was required by the FDA to copy the written and audio materials provided in its general nicotine gum product from those included in Smithkline's Nicorette product. A federal judge had initially enjoined Watson from shipping the product with the offending materials, but the judge later changed his mind. The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the latter decision, and the Supreme Court let the appeals court decision stand.
10/02/00 Supreme Court begins 2000 session
The Supreme Court opened the 2000 session by ruling several important and interesting lawsuits. The Court refused to let 31 congresspeople sue President Clinton over the use of the US military in NATO's bombing effort in Yugoslavia in 1999. Without any comment, the Court rejected the lawmakers' claim that they had standing under the War Powers Act. The Court also rejected a suit brought by Sony against Connectix, a software maker that produces programs that allow PC users to play Sony PlayStation games on their computers, deferring the suit to lower courts. And the Court rejected an appeal of a claim of sexual harassment brought by a married couple against a supervisor where they worked - a lower court had ruled that someone who harasses people of both sexes cannot be accused of discrimination based on sex.
09/26/00 Court announces some cases it will hear in upcoming session
The Supreme Court has added several cases of national interest to its October docket. Included is a case by golfer Casey Martin who is suing the PGA Tour to allow him to use a golf cart on the course while playing in tournaments because of problems with his circulatory system. An Alabama case will test that state's English-only law which prompted the state to do away with multi- language driving tests. A case that alleges discrimination in the determination of at-birth citizenship of children born of American fathers and foreign mothers. A case that asks the Court to throw out a search warrant that was issued based on the results of the use of heat detector that was not authorized by a warrant.
09/21/00 Bill would require Court to televise sessions
Senators Arlen Specter and Joseph Biden introduced a bill in the Senate today which would require the Supreme Court to televise its public sessions. The Justices of the Supreme Court have always been against cameras in the Courtroom, with Justice David Souter once saying that cameras would only be in the Courtroom by rolling in "over my dead body."
09/12/00 FEC recognizes Buchanan as Reform Party nominee
The Federal Election Commission effectively recognized Pat Buchanan as the Reform Party candidate by allocating $12.6 million in federal funds to his campaign. Though the other possible candidate of the fractured party, Dr. John Hagelin, vowed to appeal the decision, the Buchanan camp already has plans to spend the money on a media blitz designed to raise Buchanan's public image in the homestretch to the November election. Reform Party founder H. Ross Perot, had submitted an affidavit supporting Hagelin, but the FEC rejected Hagelin's claims in a 5-1 vote. Hagelin has been chosen as the candidate of choice in several states' Reform caucuses, such as in New York. Hagelin is also the returning candidate of the Natural Law party.
08/19/00 Major-party tickets finalized
With the end of the Democratic National Convention, the candidates for the Presidency for all the major parties have be finalized. For the Republicans, Texas Governor George W. Bush and former Congressman and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. For the Democrats, Vice President Al Gore and Senator Joe Lieberman. For the Reform Party, controversy remains over the rightful party candidates: either former GOP pundit Pat Buchanan and California teacher Ezola Foster, or Iowa physicist John Hagelin and California entrepreneur Nat Goldhaber. The Federal Election Commission is expected to have to rule on which candidates are the true Reform Party candidates. The minor-party with the most press is the Green Party, fronted by consumer advocate Ralph Nader and Minnesota Indian advocate Winona LaDuke.
08/11/00 Judge rules on state campaign finance rules
A judge ruled yesterday on a suit concerning Vermont's campaign finance laws, in a decision many feel will set national precedent. In 1997, the Vermont legislature set limits for people running for state and local offices. The federal judge in the case found many of the rules to be legal, and many to be unconstitutional. Limits on spending, on the ratio of in-state to out-of-state contributions, and on amounts national parties can provide for candidates were thrown out. Limits to the amounts individuals can contribute, seen as a key provision of the law, were allowed to stand.
07/28/00 Peruvian President sworn in for unconstitutional third term
Amid protests and riots, Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was sworn in today for an unprecedented third term. Six people died in a fire as protests raged and as Fujimori was sworn in. Members of the opposition party walked out in the middle of the ceremony. Defenders of Fujimori say that the people spoke during the elections, that Fujimori's iron fist in dealing with Marxist guerrillas and his progress in dealing with Peru's hyperinflation proved that he needed to continue as President. Detractors blasted his human rights record and noted that the May, 2000 elections are considered by many to have been corrupt and flawed.
07/24/00 Former Georgia governor to replace deceased Senator
Former Georgia governor Zell Miller has been appointed to serve part of the term of Paul Coverdell, who died last week from a cerebral hemorrhage. Miller, a Democrat, replaces the two-term Republican with four years left on the term. Miller has already announced that he will seek election in November, when a special election will be held to allow the people to choose the permanent replacement for Coverdell.
06/28/00 "Bubble of privacy" upheld
The Supreme Court upheld a Colorado law that provides an 8-foot "bubble of privacy" for abortion clinic clients and workers. The law is designed to keep abortion protesters from getting too close, blocking access to the clinic. The Court ruled 6-3 that the bubble law did not significantly affect the ability of protesters to voice their opinions while allowing the workers and clients the right to be left alone. In an unusual move, dissenters Justices Scalia and Kennedy read their dissents aloud from the bench, with Scalia calling the ruling an "aggressively pro-abortion novelty." Justice Thomas also dissented.
06/28/00 Nebraska "partial-birth abortion" law struck down
The Supreme Court ruled today that a Nebraska law, similar to those in 30 other states, that bans the use of an abortion procedure known as "partial-birth abortion," is an unconstitutional burden on women seeking an abortion. The decision, the first major one concerning abortion since 1992, was supported in a close 5-4 vote. In the case, Stenberg v Carhart, the Court upheld the ruling of a lower court that had found the law unconstitutional; another appeals court had found similar laws constitutional, prompting the Supreme Court to hear the Nebraska case to resolve the differences. The law was challenged by a Nebraska doctor who uses the procedure, and who said that the law could be interpreted so broadly as to eliminate other forms of abortion, and which eliminated a procedure that could be the safest for a woman in a particular medical situation.
06/28/00 Boy Scouts can discriminate against homosexuals
In a close 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the Boy Scouts to ban homosexuals from its ranks of troop leaders, in spite of a New Jersey law which bans such discrimination. The Court's decision said that a law that forced the Scouts to allow gay troop leaders denied it of its 1st Amendment right to associate itself only with those individuals it chooses. Calling such forced membership, with certain exceptions, clearly unconstitutional. The Court ruled that homosexuals in its ranks burdens the Scouts in its mission to expound a certain set of beliefs, including that scouts should be "clean and morally straight," according to the Scout Oath. The Court rejected James Dale's argument that his role as a troop leader, and the fact that he is an openly gay man, would not significantly burden the Boy Scouts.
06/26/00 "Blanket primaries" ruled unconstitutional
The Supreme Court today ruled that California's blanket primary, where any voter can vote for anyone for any office, is unconstitutional. The Court ruled that such open primaries violate the rights of state political parties by forcing them to ally themselves with persons not registered as voters in that party or in any party. Three other states have California-style open primaries, where voters could choose from the entire slate of candidates for each contested office; 20 other states have open primaries where a voter chooses to vote for one party or another regardless of their particular affiliation. The 7-2 decision was joined by all but Justices Stevens and Ginsburg.
06/26/00 Miranda warning reaffirmed
The Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, ruled that Miranda warnings, as in "You have the right to remain silent," must still be read to persons being placed under arrest. The decision leant new muscle to the Court's 1966 Miranda decision. The ruling overturned a law that Congress had passed in 1968, known as 3501. The 3501 law stated that voluntary confessions were not subject to Miranda, though it had been little-used until recently. The Court's opinion, written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, said that Miranda was a constitutional rule that could not be superseded by simple legislation. The ruling also emphasized that the Miranda warnings apply equally to state as to federal law enforcement. Justices Scalia and Thomas dissented.
06/19/00 Texas football game prayers restricted
Students may not lead prayers at high school football games when the prayers are said over a public address system, the Supreme Court decided today in a 6-3 decision. The case, brought by Mormon and Catholic families living in a predominantly Baptist school district, sought to bring an end to these public prayers. The Court agreed that the prayers sent a message to the religious minorities that they were outsiders and "not members of the political community." The case was the first concerning school prayer in nearly 10 years and reaffirmed the Court's first decision on the subject in 1962.
06/19/00 Restrictions on federal judge oversight of state prisons upheld
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that a provision of federal law known as the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996 is constitutional. The provision, that a federal judge who has placed a state prison under his or her oversight because of reports of poor conditions must respond to a state's request to end the oversight within 90 days. A federal court had ruled the provision to be a violation of the separation of powers. The Supreme Court disagreed, in a ruling held to be a victory for states. The Court said that the 90-day rule was simply a new rule that encouraged prompt replies by the federal courts.
06/19/00 State boycotts of a nation's goods are unconstitutional
Under the Supremacy Clause, states do not have the ability to boycott the goods of a nation on their own, the Supreme Court said today in a unanimous decision. The Massachusetts law conflicted with a federal law that imposed conditions upon Burma. The federal law allowed the President to reinstate trade once certain conditions were met, which the state law did not follow. The state law also had more stringent and far-reaching sanctions than the federal law. The Court said "...the state Act is at odds with the President's authority to speak for the United States among the world's nations to develop a comprehensive, multilateral Burma strategy."
06/12/00 Patients cannot sue HMOs in federal court, Supreme Court rules
In what is seen by many as a blow to patient rights, the Supreme Court today ruled that Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) cannot be sued in federal court because of the way they bonus doctors for limiting expensive tests and procedures. An Illinois woman tried to sue her HMO over a ruptured appendix, charging that the doctor would have caught the problem earlier if the HMO did not have the incentive plan. The Court, however, did not prevent suits against HMOs in state court, leaving the door open for relief on that level. The Court also noted that the ruling was based on existing federal law, indicating that if Congress had a mind to change the law, suits on the federal level would be possible.
06/05/00 Supreme Court backs parental rights over grandparental rights
In a blow to organizations touting the rights of grandparents to see their grandchildren, the Supreme Court today ruled, in a 6-3 decision, that a Washington State's grandparent's visitation law was too broad. The case was brought by a mother whose husband committed suicide; she wished to restrict her in-laws' visitation with her children, though a Washington court ordered visitation. The Court found the law "breathtakingly broad;" the ruling has no effect on other laws in other states, but may be used a precedent to challenge those laws and to fight new ones. The Court also did not rule that court-ordered visitation for grandparents was not possible - only that this specific law was flawed.
06/05/00 Death sentence thrown out after racial bias was found
The Supreme Court set aside a death sentence for Texas inmate Victor Saldano, after it was shown that the sentence was applied at least in part because of the man's race. Saldano was convicted of murder in 1996, and in the sentencing phase of his trial, a psychologist noted that because of his race (Saldano is Latino), he had a higher predicted chance of committing another such crime. Saldano's appeal, which provides for a new sentencing hearing, and not a reversal of his conviction, had his motion supported by several Central American countries (Saldano is Venezuelan) and the Texas Attorney General's office, which freely admitted the error.
05/22/00 Court strikes down restrictions on adult cable networks
In a close 5-4 vote, the Court today struck down regulations that forced cable companies to only provide access to adult cable networks, such as the Playboy Channel, in the late evening hours unless the companies can scramble the channels' signals beyond audio and visual recognition. The cable networks, which brought the suit against parts of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, hailed the decision as a victory for free speech, while opponents attacked the decision as an attack on family values.
05/22/00 Car manufacturer liability restricted by Court decision
Car manufacturers who were not mandated to have air bags in their vehicles by federal regulation prior to 1997 cannot be held liable for simply not making air bags available prior to that date. In a split 5-4 vote, the Court rejected the arguments of a Washington, D.C., woman who was injured in an accident in her 1987 Honda, which was not equipped with an air bag. Honda argued that a federal regulation that cars have either an air bag or a safety restraint shielded it from liability for not having an air bag, and the Court agreed, saying that the federal regulations pre-empted state lawsuits.
05/15/00 Rape not a federal crime, says Supreme Court
Striking down a key provision of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that rape is a matter for state criminal courts, and not federal courts. The Court rejected arguments that violence against women affected interstate commerce in a way that warranted federal legislation, with Chief Justice Rehnquist's opinion noting "Gender-motivated crimes of violence are not, in any sense of the phrase, economic activity."
05/01/00 Ex post facto prohibition protects incestuous father
Convicted of 15 counts of incestuous contact with his step-daughter when she was of the ages 12 through 16, Scott Carmell argued that four of his convictions were executed under an ex post facto law that allowed the girl to testify without corroboration. The law in effect at the time of the offense held that a sex crime had to be reported within six months of the crime, unless the victim was under 14. The law was later changed to include victims under 18. Four of the 15 counts Carmell was convicted on occurred when the girl was over 14, when the original version of the law was in effect. She was allowed to testify uncorroborated because she was under 18 at the time of trial. The Supreme Court agreed that the age change allowing uncorroborated testimony amounted to an illegal ex post facto law. The case, Carmell v Texas, was decided 5-4.
04/18/00 Supreme Court rules that "squeezing" can be an illegal search
In a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court said that a Customs Agent who squeezed a bag to detect drugs or drug paraphernalia conducted an illegal search. Chief Justice Rehnquist, writing for the majority, said that a physical inspection of this nature is actually more invasive than a visual inspection, and that a bus passenger has a reasonable expectation of privacy of his or her effects from other passengers or inspectors. Steven Dewayne Bond, whose bag was found to contain a "brick" of methamphetamine, had his conviction overturned by the decision.
03/29/00 Supreme Court allows restrictions on nude dancing
In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court let stand an Erie, PA, public-indecency law that required some modicum of apparel for dancers in strip clubs. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had struck down the law, citing a violation of the freedom of expression. The federal Supreme Court, however, noted that while dancing is protected expression, the community, in the guise of local government, has an interest in combating the negative effects on the community brought by adult strip clubs. The opinion noted that the presence of minimal attire would not affect the expression, while it could help local law enforcement to combat crime.
03/29/00 Senate rejects flag amendment
In its fourth rejection since 1989, the Senate voted 63-37 for a bill that would have passed an amendment to the Constitution on to the states. The bill required two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, to pass the Senate. The bill survived a few amendment attempts of its own, but ultimately failed to garner enough Democratic support to pass. The bill had passed in the House last year, but the vote in the Senate kills this iteration of the bill.
03/28/00 Usability of anonymous tips limited by Court
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court today said that anonymous tips are not enough in and of themselves enough to override the 4th Amendment search and seizure protections. The case stemmed from a Florida teen who was frisked by police and found to be in possession of a concealed handgun. The police were tipped by an anonymous caller. In Florida, no permit is required to carry a concealed handgun; however, the teen was underage to carry a weapon. When the police arrived on the scene, the teen was not acting suspiciously, nor did he attempt to flee the police. The Court ruled that absent suspicious behavior, a stop-and-frisk cannot be done solely on the basis of an anonymous tip.
03/28/00 Senate set to debate flag burning amendment
Senator Orrin Hatch introduced a bill in the Senate on March 17, 1999, resurrecting the so-called Flag Burning Amendment. The amendment is to be debated this week in the Senate. The text of bill reads simply "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." Senator Mitch McConnell plans to offer an amendment to the bill that would allow the Congress to ban flag desecration without amending the Constitution and without running afoul of the Supreme Court's rulings concerning free speech.
03/21/00 FDA cannot regulate tobacco, Supreme Court rules
A divided Court ruled today that the FDA does not have the authority to regulate tobacco, dealing a blow to the administration's anti-smoking initiative. The 5-4 ruling noted that though the FDA had demonstrated that smoking is a definite health hazard to minors, the agency still over stepped the bounds laid out by Congress when it decided in 1996 to crack down on sales to minors. The suit, brought by the tobacco companies, has no effect on state laws restricting tobacco sales. It does overturn exclusively-federal rules. One of the tobacco companies' main arguments, accepted by the majority, was that if cigarettes could be regulated by the FDA, they would have to be removed from the market, since the FDA has concluded that cigarettes are unsafe and dangerous.
03/07/00 State super tanker rules struck down
A unanimous Supreme Court ruled that states cannot regulate oil super tankers, stating that federal rules take precedence. Invoking the Interstate Commerce Clause, the Court ruled that the need for consistent, uniform rules and regulations outweighs a state's need to protect itself. The case stems from rules passed by the state of Washington after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989. The Court emphasized that maritime law and vessel regulation has long been the purview of the federal government. It did note the state rules regarding the unique waterways of a state would be permissible.
03/06/00 Court allows prosecutor's statement
The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a man whose prosecutor was accused of making prejudicial and unconstitutional comments during trial. In a 7-2 decision, the Court said that the comment, which implied that the defendant was able to hear the testimony of all witnesses prior to his own testimony, and hence tailor his testimony to the evidence, was "a big advantage." Witnesses in a trial are generally not allowed to hear the testimony of other witnesses to avoid tainting the testimony. The Court said that such a comment is not in the same scope as a comment about the non-testimony of a defendant implying guilt, which has been ruled a prejudicial and unconstitutional comment during trial.
02/22/00 Supreme Court refuses to intervene in Cuban boy's case
In an unusual filing, an Arizona lawyer asked the Supreme Court directly to rule on the Elian Gonzales custody case. Gonzales, who came to the U.S. from Cuba in an inner tube, has been the center of an on-going international custody battle. His Cuban father wants him to return home, which his relatives in the U.S. want him to stay here. The Court rejected the request that it rule on the case to avoid any further political or legal maneuvering.
02/08/00 Hatch seeks to regulate presidential pardons
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch plans to introduce a bill that would regulate the process of granting presidential pardons. Hatch, a former Republican presidential hopeful, says that the move was prompted by President Clinton's pardon of several members of the FALN, a Puerto Rican nationalist group, in 1999. The bill would require the attorney general to consult with law enforcement officials before any pardon could be granted. The bill would appear to fly in the face of the Constitution, which provides, in Article 2, Section 2, for presidential pardons without mentioning any power of Congress to regulate them.
01/24/00 Supreme Court upholds campaign contribution limits
In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Missouri law that limits contributions by individuals to $1075 per candidate per election, saying that such a limit does not improperly infringe upon free speech. The case, Nixon v Shrink Missouri Government, upheld the Court's 1976 Buckley v Valeo decision, reaffirming the basic philosophy of that case: government can protect the integrity of the democratic system by banning large contributions to individual candidates.
01/12/00 Flight from police may be probable cause to be detained
In a close 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a Chicago man was arrested with probable cause, even though the only thing he did was run away from approaching police cruisers. The man was stopped and was found to be carrying an illegal weapon. The justices decided unanimously that flight from police can be probable cause for stopping people, though they split closely on the particular case. The opinion noted that "headlong flight - wherever it occurs - is the consummate act of evasion." The case is Illinois v Wardlow.
01/11/00 11th Amendment case ruled in states' favor
A sharply divided Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that state workers cannot sue their states in federal court because the states enjoy protection from such suits under the 11th Amendment. A federal law that allowed workers who accused sates of age discrimination to sue in federal court was struck down. This is seen as further evidence of the Court's erosion of federal power over certain issues. The dissenters accused the majority of undue judicial activism.
01/05/00 Chief Justice issues year-end report
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist issued his annual year-end report, pointing out particularly that court-appointed lawyers are still being paid too little for their work, in many instances not being able cover all expenses and overhead. He complimented Congress for setting politics aside and filling a large number of federal bench vacancies. He also noted the differences in technologies from today and 100 years ago, when circuit court judges actually rode a circuit on horse-back to hear cases.