Brethren Back to Work
The First Amendment also holds a front seat in the public gallery with the already reheard case concerning "Hillary: The Movie" as a proxy for the extent to which corporate money can play in federal elections. Simply stated, are campaign donations equivalent to speech, and if so, what level of scrutiny does the Court apply to corporate speech?
The clash between free speech and animal cruelty will also be put to the test, as state laws criminalizing the distribution of videos depicting acts of extreme violence toward animals are in question. Another Establishment Clause case considers the presence of a giant cross on public land that was later partitioned to the VFW.
Of local interest is a challenge to Chicago's 27-year old gun ban, an ordinance strikingly similar to the DC ban struck down by the Court last June when a 5-4 majority declared that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to "keep and bear arms." The remaining question was whether the Second Amendment applies to state and local laws, as DC is a federal territory. McDonald v. Chicago could make incorporation a reality. Stay tuned for more intense coverage of this potentially landmark case.
Finally, the Roberts Court weathers its third new iteration in 4 years with the coming of Sonia Sotomayor and the retirement of David Souter. On the surface, this appears as a tit for tat exchange of moderate liberals, but history tells us that "fair is foul, and foul is fair" when it comes to expectations and actual performance on the bench. Also lurking on the horizon is the probable retirement of the Court's longest-serving Justice, the 89-year old John Paul Stevens, who stands as the Supreme's liberal lion.