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2000 News Archive – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net

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.



Last Modified: 24 Jan 2010


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