Do you believe that Americans have the right to protest and criticize the government?
Justice Antonin Scalia has said that most of the rights we enjoy today are not guaranteed by the Constitution, and during wartime, should be cut back to the very minimum. I don’t think civil rights that people died for to achieve should be discarded.
Do you believe that the government can’t condone specific religious instruction in our public schools or prayer in our courtrooms?
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in a minority opinion, has written that the First Amendment does not require neutrality towards religion. I don’t want public schools teaching religion to my children.
Do you believe that we live in a country where women are free to make their own decisions about when and whether to have children?
Justice Scalia‘s strongly worded dissents in abortion cases, regularly joined by Justice Thomas, make it clear–a Scalia-Thomas majority would at the earliest chance overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which already hangs by a thread. I believe that the circumstances of each women cannot be fairly judged by anyone in the government. I believe in personal choice, no matter how difficult the decision may be or how fraught with ethical dilemnas.
The winner of the upcoming presidential election may decide the majority opinion for the next 40 years or more of the Supreme Court. President Bush has cited the Court’s most extreme justices as his models for future appointments. With a majority, decades of social justice progress would be overturned, and new progressive legislation would be blocked.
Members of the Supreme Court include Nixon appointee (and Chief Justice) William Rehnquist; Ford appointee John Paul Stevens; Reagan appointees Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, and Anthony Kennedy; Bush (I) appointees David Souter and Clarence Thomas; and Clinton appointees Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer (my personal fave). The next President may make up to 2 or 3, if not more, appointments.
People for the United Way have created a helpful analysis of of the upcoming docket. The 2004-05 term, which began on October 4 will include hearings on important cases concerning Americans’ civil and constitutional rights. The Legal Information Institute at Cornell University has a Supreme Court Collection with decisions as well. And there’s a terrific blog of day to day activities and events of the Court at SCOTUSBlog. There are plenty of resources for you to find key decisions in plain English if the legal-eze is too much for you.
POssible nominees for each candidate:
For John F. Kerry
Sonia Sotomayor, a Second Circuit appeals court judge in New York
David Tatel, D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
Merrick Garland, D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
Sandra Lynch, a First Circuit appeals court judge in Boston
Walter Dellinger, a Duke University law professor and acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration
For George W. Bush
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch
J. Harvie Wilkinson, 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
Michael Luttig, 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals
Emilio Garza, an appeals court judge on the Fifth Circuit in Texas
Samuel Alito, a Third Circuit appeals court judge in New Jersey
White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales
Before you write off the ACLU, you should know that no organization in America has more power to protect our civil liberties than the American Civil Liberties Union. Despite what you may be led to believe, the ACLU is non-partisan and works to protect liberties of all Americans, whether their political interest is Liberal, Conservative, moderate or indifferent, and whether you think they should have their liberties or not! Their purpose is to preserve American protections and guarantees such as:
First Amendment rights. Freedom of speech, association and assembly. Freedom of the press, and freedom of religion supported by the strict separation of church and state.
Right to equal protection under the law. Equal treatment regardless of race, sex, religion or national origin.
Right to due process. Fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.
Right to privacy. Freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.
The ACLU also works to "extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including Native Americans and other people of color; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered people; women; mental-health patients; prisoners; people with disabilities; and the poor."
Without the ACLU, many of these cases would never have the resources to get to the Supreme Court at all. When the ACLU goes, I go too.