Monday, October 06, 2008

The First Monday in October: SCOTUS OPENS ITS NEW TERM

I have mentioned this before, but I love the First Monday in October. I used to love going to the Supreme Court of the United States as a student at Tufts. Catch the train or drive at an un-Godly hour; sleep as much as possible; walk from Union Station in the October air; stand in line to get in, and watch the 9 most important men (it was all men then) in law take their seats and begin to work.

The day before the First Monday in October is the Red Mass. It is a Catholic Mass said for the judges and lawyers. It is solemn and filled with Pomp and Circumstance. Prayers are said for these men and women that they will find the knowledge, justice and mercy that makes for good lawyering and judging.

Tomorrow the term begins. The big issue on the calendar so far is "Preemption". Are the states preempted by federal law from entering into certain areas that the feds now say are theirs? It is not an easy concept to grasp but it is important in for conservatives who believe in state's rights and are fighting the ever growing intrusive role of the federal government into what had formerly been states province.

The Associated Press (AP) gives us a rundown of some of the issues coming in front of the judges this year in an article here

As previously noted Scotus Blog has a rundown of the criminal cases the court faces. These include what an enterprise consists of in a Civil or Criminal RICO suit; Speedy trial delay; and issues surrounding the taking and use of Confessions and admissions at trial when arraignments have been delayed; or when someone gives police a statement without waiving his right to counsel, and it is used against him when he later takes the stand in his own defense. (In other words, if the confession was taken in absence of the waiver, it cannot be used on the Government's case in chief. The question is should it come in if the defendant takes the stand and says something other than what he told the police when Police took his statement without getting the defendant to properly wave his rights).

In all it may be a quieter year, but it holds some really important decisions ahead.
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