Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Roberts Court and the First Amendment

The 2011-2012 Supreme Court justices.
Yesterday, we examined some potential legal scenarios where the First Amendment would come into play. Today, you will have the opportunity of taking a closer look at some of the First Amendment cases the court will consider during the 2011-2012 term.

First, what rights are protected by the First Amendment?

How does a case reach the Supreme Court?

How does the Court rule on cases?

Today's work is due in a printed, stapled MS Word document at the start of tomorrow's class period.

Part 1: Last Year's Docket
Now, let's take a look at a great graphic from the New York Times: Major Rulings of the 2010-2011 Term. Complete the following in an MS Word document (10 points):

  1. What patterns do you notice in the rulings for 2010-2011? Explain.
  2. What does it mean when a justice recuses himself?
  3. Which justice(s) seems to be the most conservative? Liberal? How can you tell?
  4. Which justice(s) do you agree with most frequently? Explain.
  5. Which cases examined by the Court appear to involve the First Amendment?
Part 2: This Year's First Amendment Cases (20 points)
When you're done, use the list of sources below to complete the following in your Word document.

Identify at least two court cases dealing with the First Amendment for the 2011-2012 term. Try to find cases that interest you. For each:
  1. Record the case caption.
  2. Record your source website.
  3. Relate the case to the First Amendment. Include specific clauses.
  4. Summarize the issue(s) at stake in the case.
  5. Justify your interest in the case. Be specific.
  6. If the case has already been decided, record the vote (5-4, 6-3, etc.). Record the majority opinion in the case. Explain whether or not you agree with the opinion, giving specific references to the case itself and the majority opinion.
  7. If the case has not been decided, make a prediction for the way in which the Court will rule based on prior decisions. Include a reference to the material that justifies your response.

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