Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Supreme Court opinions

Two interesting results from the Supreme Court yesterday.

Case No. 1, in which conservatives vote for the pro-gun-control position: In Small v. United States, the issue was that Gary Small had been in a Japanese prison for 3 years for illegal arms trafficking. He got out, and later bought a gun in the United States. Question: Could he be punished under 18 U. S. C. ยง 922(g)(1), which makes it "unlawful for any person . . . who has been convicted in any court, of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year . . . to . . . possess . . . any firearm"? The Court's liberals said "no," because "any court" didn't mean foreign courts. Justice Thomas, joined by Justices Scalia and Kennedy, dissented.

Case No. 2, in which the lineup is unusual: In Pasquantino v. United States, the question was whether a plot to defraud a foreign government of tax revenue violates the federal wire fraud statute. The majority opinion was written by Justice Thomas, finding that the wire fraud statute does prohibit such behavior. The dissenter was Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justices Breyer, Souter, and Scalia.

Both cases are useful reminders that the voting patterns of Supreme Court Justices aren't as predictable as some people seem to believe.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given the dissent was written by Thomas and especially given it was agreed to by Scalia, a vocal critic of foreign usage, we must view this as a knock against foreign courts. Scalia and Thomas, with Kennedy along for the ride, clearly wish to point out the potential for abuse by holding foreign law in such high regard. What does the U.S. differ with other countries on more than gun control, after all? In reality, I think the "any court" must always be construed as any court under the jurisdiction of the United States Constitution.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Brett Bellmore said...

My respect for Thomas and Scalia has just taken a radical nosedive. IMO, this isn't so much a "gun control" case, as it is a "right to a jury trial" case.

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You wrote: "Both cases are useful reminders that the voting patterns of Supreme Court Justices aren't as predictable as some people seem to believe." I believe both cases are useful reminders that voting patterns, specifically the voting pattern conflicts in Small and Pasquantino,posted the same day, are perfect examples of how Supreme Court Justices are going out of their way to NOT be so predicatable in hopes of filling the Chief Justices seat. I mean take Thomas for example, did he even read his opinion in Pasquantino or did his law clerk write it all and he sign it without reviewing it??? The National Ass of Manufacturers had it right in there amicus brief, the NAM is a HUGE supporter of President Bush- does Thomas think he is going to scrore brownie points by going against one of the Mr. President's biggest supporters?? The same tax laws out to apply to the Pasquantino case, as did in the gun case. (Small)

1:46 PM  

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