Monday, December 13, 2010

Supreme Court

Winter break is coming up, but we have a little blog business to do before we go on vacation! Since we're currently working on the judicial branch, for this posting we have a couple of Supreme Court-related things to look at and comment on.

First of all, click on the title link above and it should take you to a Yahoo! News story about the Supreme Court and detainees at the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Read this article, and think about the following questions:
  • What connections do you notice between this story and the readings we did from "The Nine," especially when it comes to the issue of the Judicial Branch attempting to limit the exercising of power by the Executive Branch?
  • I realize you may not know the details or circumstances of the specific cases of particular detainees, but do you agree with President Obama's plan to close the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay? Or do you more fall in line with President Bush's policy that the prison should remain open and these 170+ detainees should stay locked up in Cuba?
  • On a related note (and again obviously understanding that you may not be familiar with the specifics of certain cases), do you agree with the law passed by the House that would prevent detainees currently being held at Guantanamo from being transferred to the United States? (The idea is that if Guantanamo is closed, it's not that the detainees would go free; they would just have to be moved to other maximum-security prisons in the U.S. Many have said they wouldn't want these detainees transferred to their state, so by passing this law, Congress has potentially made it harder for the prison to be closed.) What do you think the Supreme Court should do?

In addition to reading this article, I'd like you to watch a very interesting 13-minute video clip. It's a one-on-one interview on Fox News Sunday between host Chris Wallace and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. There's a chance that a link to this video clip will appear on the side of the screen when you're reading the Yahoo! News article ("Justice Stephen Breyer on FNS"), but if not, you can get to it by clicking on the link below:

As you watch this video, please consider the following questions:

  • Do you agree with with Breyer's assertion that we should be guided by the values outlined in our Constitution, or more with Wallace's notion that we should go by the exact wording of the Constitution? Why? How does this connect with our discussion in class of the different types of judicial interpretation and ideology?
  • Do you agree with Breyer's explanation of the 2nd Amendment? Or do you more agree with the interpretations of the Supreme Court (against which Breyer dissented) that led to handgun bans being overturned in the past year or two? Why?
  • When Wallace asks Breyer about President Obama's comments at last year's State of the Union regarding the Citizens United decision, do you agree with Chief Justice Roberts' statement that it was "troubling," or did you find yourself agreeing more with Breyer's explanation of the situation? Why?

Remember, you should post two separate comments to the blog. The first should be your answers to as many of the above questions as you can, and the second posting should be a response to the comments of one or more of your classmates. You have until the end of the day Friday, December 17th to post your comments. Good luck, have fun, and Happy Holidays!