While definitive answers await judicial determination, intriguing questions now abound for our discussion and usual interactive analysis this semester.
Will the Supreme Court allow further expansion of religious ‘free exercise’ into the prohibited ‘establishment of religion’ injunction, both contained in the First Amendment? The continuing struggle between these two disparate provisions in this portion of the Constitution remains an active and volatile battleground. The recently argued Masterpiece Cake case will either provide clarity or perpetuate the struggle.
Have recent evolving (or devolving) Supreme Court decisions circumscribing application of the death penalty as ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ under the Eighth Amendment reached an unexpected nadir where recent appeals (certiorari) claiming (i) racial discrimination in jury selections and (ii) still permitting execution of mentally impaired; as both were just denied without explanation?
Can the President of the United States be indicted for an alleged federal crime whilst still in office? The express text of the Constitution is silent. Can he/she still be required to face civil charges for alleged wrongdoing committed either before or after assuming office? The courts have already given helpful, albeit limited, guidance.
Can a sitting President pardon anyone…for anything…at any time? The Constitution says ‘yes’, but only to federal crimes. What about a President having a Constitutional right to lawfully pardon him/her self? This conundrum still awaits Supreme Court determination. Moreover, what if state authorities seek indictment for state-based crimes allegedly committed by a President in that local jurisdiction either before, or after, taking office? Are these queries only hypothetical?
What is the difference between a federal monument and a federal national park? May a President exercise executive power to circumscribe either or both venues? Just-filed litigation by several Indian Nations in response to just-announced Presidential emasculation of two federal monuments will address the difference and perhaps result in disparate outcomes as between the two properties.
Many more critical questions directly and substantively affecting each of us at LLI exceed the limited breadth of this modest post. We shall address as many of them as time permits in class. One might prudently wish to fasten her/his Constitutional seatbelt as we anticipate this tumultuous winter semester.
Irving Labovitz, J.D.
OBJECTION! Current, Contentious and Confusing Legal Battles
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