The less audacious approach shown by Roberts and Alito seemed to matter little to the court's increasingly frustrated liberal wing — John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer — who on Monday issued fierce dissents protesting the court's new direction. "The court (and, I think, the country) loses when important precedent is overruled without good reason," Souter wrote in objecting to the campaign finance ruling.
In Monday's most significant ruling, the court carved into the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance law by opening the door to corporate and union financing of broadcast ads just before an election. The decision is likely to lead to an advertising bonanza by such groups before the 2008 elections. In a decision written by Roberts, the court dramatically scaled back the reach of the law's limits on such advertising. "Discussion of issues cannot be suppressed simply because the issues may be pertinent in an election," Roberts wrote. "Where the First Amendment is implicated, the tie goes to the speaker, not the censor.
In the decision limiting students' speech rights, the court ruled against a former high school student in Alaska who said his rights were violated when a principal tore down a banner the student had held up in 2002, as the Winter Olympics torch relay passed by the school. The banner read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus," which officials saw as a violation of their anti-drug policies. Making an exception to a 1969 ruling that protected non-disruptive students' speech rights on campus without reversing the previous decision, the court ruled that schools could ban signs, buttons and T-shirts that conflict with their anti-drug policies.
Meanwhile, in a case that focused on a potential challenge to President Bush's efforts to direct public money to religious charities, the court also limited the reach of a 1968 ruling that allowed taxpayers to sue the government over potential violations of the separation of church and state. Taken together, the decisions "were victories that conservatives will be happy about," said
A bitterly divided U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday issued what is likely to be a landmark opinion -- ruling that race cannot be a factor in the assignment of children to public schools. The court struck down public school choice plans in
- JJ Commentary: Praise God for these shifts back to constitutional principles and away from judicial activism.