Image source By Barry Blitt.
- A closely divided U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out a lower court ruling that upheld a state legislature redistricting plan in Alabama that packed black voters into certain districts in a way critics say diminished their clout at the polls.
- In their 5-4 decision, the justices called the lower court ruling backing the redistricting plan “legally erroneous.” But the justices ducked a ruling on the plan’s lawfulness and sent the case back to a lower court.
- The court avoided deciding whether the redistricting plan proposed by the Republican-controlled state legislature in 2012 violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law by concentrating black voters, who tend to vote Democratic, into a small number of districts.
- The redistricting plan in Alabama, a Deep South state with a past history of erecting hurdles for black voters, was challenged by the Alabama Democratic Conference and the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus.
- This was the first voting rights case heard by the high court since its 2013 ruling that gutted a key section of the Voting Rights Act. » The Reuters article – By Lawrence Hurley – March 25, 2015.
U.S. justices throw out ruling that upheld Alabama redistricting plan
India’s Supreme Court ruled that the controversial Section 66A of the Information Technology Act was unconstitutional
- India’s Supreme Court struck down a law which allowed police to arrest people for comments on social networks and other internet sitesSection 66A was sweeping in its powers – it could send a person to jail for three years for sending an email or other electronic message that “causes annoyance or inconvenience”.
- In recent years, several people have been arrested for their comments on Facebook or Twitter, sparking outrage.
- Section 66A’s creation, and much of its implementation, happened on the watch of the Congress party-led political regime that lost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP government in last year’s general election.
- Arun Jaitley of the BJP – the current finance minister and former opposition leader – had criticized the law in the upper house of parliament, after it was reported that the government had blocked nearly 300 websites.
- “Section 66A is unconstitutional and we have no hesitation in striking it down,” news agency AFP quoted Justice RF Nariman as saying in court.
“The public’s right to know is directly affected by section 66A,” he added. » The BBC article – March 24, 2015.
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.
- 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.