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Recapping Safford and Considering Empathy:  At National Journal Online's The Ninth Justice, Stuart Taylor Jr. recaps the facts surrounding the "intrusive semi-strip search" case and suggests, "school officials will need to buy lots of insurance if the views of Ginsburg and Stevens on the question of liability ever command a majority."  Stuart Taylor Jr. opines that Justice Souter's majority opinion "seems reasonable," but the partial dissent of Justices Stevens and Ginsburg does not.  Justice Stevens' opinion argued that the assistant principal should be liable to pay damages for his "outrageous conduct[,]" and did not deny that many federal appellate judges had suggested that such searches were lawful, but stated "the clarity of a well-established right should not depend on whether jurists have misread our precedents."  Taylor worries that if this view is ever adopted, a public official could "end up losing a chunk of your life's savings for ordering what several federal appellate judges had previously held to be a legal search." (emphasis in original).  His worry makes Taylor wonder what "empathy" could mean for Obama's next Justice.  If the Justice empathizes with the student, then she will argue that the assistant principal owes the student compensation.  If, on the other hand, the Justice empathizes with the assistant principal, the Justice will see no need for compensation.  Either way, it might be something to consider asking Judge Sotomayor.

No Such Thing as a Liberal/Conservative Split
:  Grits for Breakfast blogger Scott Henson has this post commenting on the Supreme Court's divide in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts.  For Henson, the 5-4 breakdown of Justices did not follow traditional political divides, but rather reflected a division "between 'constitutionalists' and 'pragmatists.' "  Henson believes that the majority held true to the confrontation clause "is clear on its face ... and it's a HUGE stretch to claim that someone providing information to prove an element of a crime in court is not a 'witness[,]' " but, the four dissenting Justices wound up deciding "it would be too burdensome to require compliance with the Constitution."  Henson fears that if Judge Sotomayor had been on the Court, the case would have reached the opposite conclusion.  His bottom line?  "Respect for the Constitution ... is [not] a universal value revered by the nation's judges, too many of whom find their loyalties lie closer to the pragmatic needs of the state's law enforcement apparatus than to the principles in the nation's founding document."  

Another Analysis of Judge Sotomayor: Congressional Research Service (CRS) has released another report on Judge Sotomayor's judicial opinions.  According to Tony Mauro at Law.com, CRS' conclusions support the claim that Judge Sotomayor "is far from an extreme liberal."  CRS wrote that Judge Sotomayor's opinions "belie easy characterization along any ideological spectrum," and her "most consistent characteristic ... has been an adherence to the doctrine of stare decisis ...."  At NRO's Bench Memos, Ed Whalen wonders if CRS has offered a truly objective analysis of Judge Sotomayor's opinions, and Wendy Long demonstrates, through a discussion of the felon voting rights case Hayden v. Pataki, that Judge Sotomayor does not frequently adhere to precedent, and CRS has not offered a "non-partisan and objective report" of her opinions.   

Supremes' 2008 StatPack:  Today, SCOTUSblog made a preliminary StatPak available for all 2008 Supreme Court decisions issued to date.  The Pack includes tables and charts on the Court's workload, circuit scorecard, decisions by final vote, and Justice agreement - just to name a few.  Kristina Moore writes that SCOTUSblog's final StatPack can be expected next week.     

2 Comments

Perhaps, just perhaps, this case will act in terrorem for some school administrators who have little sense of decency. A strip-search for a couple of ibuprofen tablets? I cannot imagine myself ordering such a thing even if it were school policy.

School officials have, for too long, been given a blank check when it comes to the Fourth Amendment rights of students. The rule in Georgia has been nothing short of laughable. In Georgia v. K.L.M, 278 Ga. App. 219 (2006), the Georgia Court of Appeals held that the exclusionary rule dos not apply to searches by school officials and that their conduct is not improper unless the student is whimsically stripped of personal privacy and subjected to petty tyranny. Perhaps the United States Supreme Court is now taking that blank check away

scottkey.typepad.com

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