1
   

Can the Supreme Court Reject Argued Cases?

 
 
Thomas
 
Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 06:12 am
After reading the "Bong hits 4 Jesus" cases, Morse v. Frederick, my first reaction was to look for a reasonable compromise between the school's interest in discipline and the student's right to free speech. On second thought, I'm beginning to change my mind, and wonder if the Court should decide the case at all.

Here's why I'm wondering: In their oral argument, the judges seem to be having a hard time deciphering what the sign even means. And rightly so. "Bong hits 4 Jesus" could be comment about the ongoing debate about legalizing Marijuana. Or it could be an incitement to actually smoke marijuana. Or it could be a malicious parody of common religious bumper stickers like "Jesus (heart) you!" Or maybe -- this would be my interpretation -- it's just a nonsense sign with no discernible meaning, held up solely to cause trouble in front of TV cameras.

If the case turns on the meaning on the banner, it turns on a factual question too trivial to merit the attention of a federal court. Moreover, the legal questions then become hypothetical -- "If the sign means X, the level of First Amendment protection is Y". For what little I understand of civil procedure, hypothetical questions of law lie outside the jurisprudence of courts, so again the Supreme Court has no case worth deciding.

Whether or not this analysis is correct, here is my question: Could the Supreme Court reject the case at this stage? Suppose the Court said: "Sorry, we thought we needed to decide an important question about freedom of speech. But we were wrong. Now we realize there isn't even a federal case here. Forget we ever accepted it." Would that be a valid outcome?
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 1,373 • Replies: 8
No top replies

 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 08:24 am
Re: Can the Supreme Court Reject Argued Cases?
Thomas wrote:
Whether or not this analysis is correct, here is my question: Could the Supreme Court reject the case at this stage? Suppose the Court said: "Sorry, we thought we needed to decide an important question about freedom of speech. But we were wrong. Now we realize there isn't even a federal case here. Forget we ever accepted it." Would that be a valid outcome?

Yes, and it happens on rare occasions. What the court will say is that "certiorari was improvidently granted," (.pdf) meaning that it agreed to take the case, but, on second thought, it really shouldn't have taken the case at all. That can happen at any time in the process. For instance, in the Vienna Convention case, Medellin v. Dretke, it happened before the parties argued the case before the court, but it can also happen after oral arguments are held.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 08:59 am
Thanks, Joe. This raises my next question.

Normally, when the Supreme Court denies certeriorari, the lower court decision stands, but doesn't become a precedent outside its jurisdiction. My question is, can the Supreme Court go even further? Could it say, "There was never a federal issue here; the district court should have tossed out this case in the first place"? If the answer is yes, it could say that -- has it ever done so?
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 09:36 am
Thomas wrote:
Thanks, Joe. This raises my next question.

Normally, when the Supreme Court denies certeriorari, the lower court decision stands, but doesn't become a precedent outside its jurisdiction. My question is, can the Supreme Court go even further? Could it say, "There was never a federal issue here; the district court should have tossed out this case in the first place"? If the answer is yes, it could say that -- has it ever done so?

I'm sure it has, although it's rare for a case to go through two courts (a trial court and an appellate court) without someone questioning the existence of a federal question. The lack of a federal question can, however, be raised at any time in the process, so it could certainly be raised for the first time in the supreme court. More frequently, the supreme court will dump a case because of jurisdictional issues or problems with the plaintiff's "standing," as happened in the "pledge of allegiance case".
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 10:31 am
Again, thanks!
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 02:19 pm
Come to think of it, one case where the supreme court found that there was no federal question (or, more specifically, there was no federal remedy) was Marbury v. Madison
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 02:31 pm
Okay. But aside of trivial cases like Marbury, this kind of thing doesn't really happen, correct?
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 03:52 pm
Thomas wrote:
But aside of trivial cases like Marbury, . . .


That was good . . . i like sly wit.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Mar, 2007 06:54 pm
Thomas wrote:
Okay. But aside of trivial cases like Marbury, this kind of thing doesn't really happen, correct?

Well, I guess you could add Barron v. Baltimore.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

 
  1. Forums
  2. » Can the Supreme Court Reject Argued Cases?
Copyright © 2022 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 05/27/2022 at 09:35:00