Update: Trust in courts continues to drop

Same sex Marriage supreme court ruling Image source

Russia’s top court upholds decree to make army losses a secret

  • Russia’s Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a Kremlin decree to classify troop deaths during peace time, seen as an attempt to cover up Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
  • The court ruled against a complaint by several activists and journalists that the decree was illegal and aimed at preventing any information about Russia’s military role in eastern Ukraine from being made public.
  • On Thursday, the SBU published a video with a man who identified himself as Russian major Vladimir Starkov. The man was arrested by Ukrainian border guards in July while transporting ammunition in eastern Ukraine.
  • He had said earlier that officers end up in Ukraine after being sent to Russia’s southern Rostov region, where they are ordered to go across the border after agreeing to a pseudonym and leaving real identification documents behind. » The AFP article – August 13, 2015.

U.S. Supreme Court Does Away With a Major Restriction on Big-Spending Campaign Donors

  • The Supreme Court knocked down one of the two main limits on federal campaign contributions, a move that could let more money flow into elections through complicated webs of donations and place greater pressure on enforcing the laws still on the books.
  • After today’s Supreme Court ruling, the limits on influence will be even more dependent on the increasingly remote chance of getting caught. » The full Bloomberg article By Karen Weise – April 2, 2014.

Americans’ opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court

  • Public confidence in the judiciary provides a critical foundation for a society committed to the rule of law. As America’s unelected justices confront controversial questions, the legitimacy of their decisions depends on public support for the institution. The court must rely on other government officials, including elected leaders and law enforcement officers, to implement its rulings. Examples around the world suggest that obedience to judicial decisions may well depend on the level of respect that the courts enjoy.
  • Last month, the Pew Research Center reported that for the first time in its nearly 30 years of polling, the favorability rating of the US Supreme Court fell below 50 percent. Only 48 percent of the public has a positive view of the court. Perhaps more disturbing, the current level reflects a steady trend. The court’s approval fell below 60 percent in 2010 and has been sliding ever since.
  • The problem is that the rhetoric of the chief justice does not match the reality of much of the court’s record. The Roberts court has a habit of picking and choosing among hot-button issues, then deciding the cases along ideologically predictable lines. Both the selection of issues and their divisive resolutions signal a thoroughly political court in the eyes of many Americans. » The full Yahoo news Christian Science article – By Robert A. Schapiro – August 5, 2013.

Marriage is a Civil institution

Same sex Marriage supreme court ruling Image source

  • The Supreme Court has ratified the view that marriage is a civil institution that can be made available to all citizens, no matter what their sexual preference may be. The justices did not go so far as to legalize same-sex marriage in every state, but the majority in the DOMA case did say that all marriages are equal under the law and, if a state chooses to expand the definition of marriage, the federal government cannot discriminate between married couples.
  • Once regarded as an abomination that would never find acceptance, marital unions of a man with a man and a woman with a woman are being normalized in state after state. Even more powerful, the force of law is now heavily weighted against traditionalists who, only a few years ago, were comfortably in the mainstream of public opinion. » The full LA Times article – By David Horsey – June 27, 2013.

  • The New York Times – Learning Network – Democracy in Action
    Overview | Students consider words that reflect their knowledge and opinions about democracy. They then work in groups to research countries that have recently transitioned to democratic forms of government. Their learning is further enhanced by reflecting on what has transpired in these countries to date. Go to this Building Society and Law Lesson.
  • The New York Times – Learning Network – The Political is Personal
    Overview | Students explore their own personal political philosophies by identifying events, people and experiences that have helped shape their beliefs and writing an essay. Go to this Building Society and ESL Lesson.
  • The New York Times – Learning Network – Justices for All
    Overview | In this lesson, students examine the role of Supreme Court justices in the American political process. Students will research the qualities of the current Supreme Court justices and write opinion papers evaluating the current justices and recommending future nominations. Go to this Law and Society Lesson.

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LFS Lessons The Learning Foundation as an American non-profit organization developed programs to encourage independent thinking for over 35 years. My name is Keerock Rook and I have been involved with the Foundation since its inception. I edit most of the lessons.