Wednesday, July 27, 2005

You say you've got a Constitution...

“Arr. The United States Constitution is more of what you call *guidelines*, than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Supreme Court, Miss O’Connor!”
-Supreme Court Justice Barbossa.

To Americans, the Constitution is as an important document as the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, the DaVinci Code, and even the Complete Hagar the Horrible. While the Constitution is a little dry and stodgy in some places, (censors made the founding fathers take out the steamier parts due to colonial sensibilities, and the funnier jokes due to time constraints), and could use some more realistic character development, it contains a heartwarming message that the whole family can enjoy.

Unfortunately, while inspirational, the Constitution is unmanageably long. Weighing in at a hefty seven pages (even more for the paperback edition), it was too long for most lawmakers to deal with, especially when they had slaves that needed whipping.

So after deciding against the names “The Constitution Guys!” “Judge-o-Rama” and “Jay and Marshall’s Most Excellent Legal Adventure,” the Supreme Court was created. Their mission: To read the Constitution, annotate it, and be ready for the exam on Monday.

And so to those of you who know the Constitution as only an important character stat in your Dungeons and Dragon’s 3rd Edition games (this is the internet after all), I offer a couple of the most important Supreme Court cases. In most of these, the Supreme Court shows that the Constitution is a living document- a fickle, schizophrenic, living document that constantly gets the crap beat of out of it. Somebody call PETA:

Marbury vs. Madison
Marbury v. Madison will go down in history as the first Supreme Court case mentioned in most history textbooks. While there were cases before this case, Marbury v. Madison changed the Supreme Court from a ragtag group of mild-mannered, soft-spoken, intellectuals to a Fantastic Force, shrewder than a speeding legislator, able to rewrite laws in a single stroke, more powerful than a locomotive in the case of Western Union Locomotive co. vs Des Moines Independent School District.

The case boiled down to this:

After being defeated by Jefferson for the Presidency, but before leaving the presidency, John Adams, during a late-night bender, went on a crazed, judge-appointing spree. He woke up the next morning to discover that he had appointed 42 federal judges, all of them Federalists. One of those was William Marbury. However, these appointments were only approved on the day of Jefferson’s Inauguration.

You know that Teacher you had where no matter what circumstances- death in the family, printer failure, canine consumption, monkey flu, or space/time continuum anomaly- she wouldn’t accept late work? That was Jefferson. Since the paperwork on the judges hadn’t been delivered yet, Jefferson rejected 25 of the 42 judges. (He thought that half-credit was *more* than fair) That included Marbury. He ordered his Secretary of State, James Madison, not to deliver the positions to the judges.

Naturally, none of this has any to do with the fallout of Marbury vs. Madison.

During the Supreme Court hearing over this topic, John Marshall had two choices. He could

A) Take the appointment away from Marbury, thus ruining their friendship, and possibly endangering the chance that Marshall would be invited to Marbury’s birthday party. Not only that, but the other guys would call Marshall a wimp and maybe even a ‘wuss’ for being scared of ‘big bad Mr. Jefferson,’ so easily.

B) Give the appointment to Marbury and have President Jefferson ignore the ruling entirely, not return Marshall’s phone calls, and take Marshall of his Christmas card list. In doing so, the Supreme Court powers would be weakened.

Naturally, Marshall, decided to go with (C), decree that the Supreme Court has the power of ‘Judicial Review’ which allows them decide which acts of the president, acts of the legislature, and acts of God are unconstitutional. Also, the Chief Justice gets a special reserved parking space. And free weekend minutes. Technically, there was nothing in the Constitution about the Supreme court having the power of Judicial Review, but hey! it's not like anybody other than the supreme court is going to read the thing, anyway.

This decision had many repercussions, as in the future, the Supreme Court will determine that, in fact, parts of the Constitution are unconstitutional.

Worcester vs. Georgia
This is the case where the Supreme Court said that the Cherokee Indians can not be constitutionally removed from Georgia. When Chief Justice John Marshall looked to President Jackson to execute the order, as part of the Executive Branch, Jefferson mailed him this reply.

Dear John,
Make me. You fat tub of lard. Oh, what!? Not so hot now, are you judge-y boy? You’re all smart and pompous when you have that hammer and you’re wearing your little black Supreme Court issue dress, but now that it’s just you and me, and these two guns? That’s right these, babies can bench 235. That’s A LOT stronger than your bench on the so-called Supreme Court. What, you want to end up a habeas corpse-us? Wuss.
Yours Truly,
Andrew Jackson.

Yeah, our Jacksons were a lot more manly back them. So he was a jerk. But he was a jerk who could kill Indians, and that’s why America loved him at the time.

Dred Scott v. Sanford (and sons).

Dred Scott was a slave who sued for his freedom after his master died. Previously, he had been taken by his master been taken to Illinois during a family vacation. He sued on two grounds.

1)Illinois was a free state.

2)He had to be taken to ILLINOIS on his summer vacation. I mean, c’mon! They have what?
Lincoln’s birthplace. Why couldn’t he just hang out at the Lake with his friends that summer?

You know how you feel when your parents tell you that not only will they not give you what you want, but they’ll ground you for a week, you can’t play video games, and the entire abolition movement, the unity of the country, and the reputation of the Supreme Court is ruined for decades? That was how Dred Scott felt.

Justice Roger Taney wrote that not only would Dred Scott not get his freedom, but he never even had a right to sue. I mean, come on, he’s only 3/5th of a person. Who’s next to sue? Midgets? Women!?!

Taney ruled that slaves were legally property. They could be taken wherever you go, and it would still remain your property. This also meant that if your slave was stolen at the YMCA while you were swimming, the YMCA was not responsible or liable. (Many people took to writing their initals and phone number on their slaves in permanent marker to avoid this.)

Free states had no meaning now, recent acts by congress were voided, and the Civil War broke out into the bloodiest conflict the United States has ever fought.

How’s THAT for supreme power?

Reynolds vs. the United States:

In one of the saddest rulings for males of all time, the Supreme Court ruled that polygamy was illegal, and men could only have one wife at a time. The ruling was rushed, however, as many Justices had to hurry to get home to their mistresses.

Plessy vs. Ferguson.

In another one of the Supreme’s greatest hits, the Supreme Court decides that they can have separate facilities for Blacks and Whites, as long as they are equal. (But some are more equal than others.) In his dissent, Justice John Harlan predicted that this case will “like the Dred Scott case, totally appear in future History Textbooks.” He was right.

Plessy vs. Ferguson II: Brown vs. the Board of Education.

The Supreme Court admits that while the decision in Plessy may have been, “funny at the time, in retrospect, it was irresponsible, and even insensitive. We the court would apologize to both Mr. Plessy, and Mr. Dredd Scott, if they weren’t dead. Maybe will send your families a fruit basket or something.”

This ruling paved the way for desegregation of everything but Golf, Cricket, Badminton, the NAACP, and the entire state of Massachusetts.

Miranda v. Arizona.
This case is the one that dictates that the police must say, “You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you at no cost. During any questioning, you may decide at any time to exercise these rights, not answer any questions or make any statements,” while beating the crap out of you.

Lemon vs. Kurtzman
The Supreme court decides that it does not violate the Establishment Clause for the state to provide Catholic schools with textbooks, curriculums, and rulers for rapping kids on the wrist. This is the origin of the Lemon test, which states, “If a vehicle has traversed more than 100,000 miles, it’s time to purchase a new vehicle.”

Roe v. Wade.
Roe v. Wade is the case that causes the second-most bitter debate and protest today. (The first is Consolidated Edison Co. v. Public Service Comm'n, which addressed the free-speech writes of public utility corporations.)

This was one of the cases where the Supreme Court suddenly found the Right to Privacy in the constitution. As Henry Blackmun writes in his majority opinion:
“When the Constitution says, “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America,” what it actually means is, “You can have an abortion when ever you want, and its none of the government’s business what you do with your body or your little baby’s body.' But you probably already knew that.”

Roe v. Wade has two major repercussions:

1) The slaughter of over a million unborn babies a year, children that will never get to laugh, never get to smile, never get to feel the warmth of an embrace, or the cool breeze on their face. Never. Ever.

2) Newspapers will try to fit in “Row vs. Wade” puns into any boating/swimming caption or headline.

Since Roe vs. Wade, Jane Roe, the woman who had the abortion, has changed her mind and deeply regrets the fallout of her testimony. “Sorry! No takesy backsies!” the Supreme Court replied.

Bush v. Gore
During the hubbub of the Florida Election recount, the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether ANOTHER recount could be held. The Court issued a statement saying that, “While the Supreme Court has no constitutional reasoning for shutting down the recount, we’re really sick of the whole thing, and wish everybody would just shut up about it.”

Bush, therefore, won the election, but if a different recount had been taken that Gore had requested, that counted the entire state of Florida, divined voter intent, counted dangling, hanging, pregnant, and suspicious-looking chads, and accepted votes from convicted felons and people like Mr. FluffyKittens the III (deceased), Gore totally would have won.

Alien vs. Predator.
In this landmark case, Predator argues that Alien borrowing inside Predator’s chest and then gorily bursting out of the cavity violated Predator’s property rights. The Supreme Court denies both their claims, and sentences each to give the sum of 14 million dollars to the estates of Sigourney Weaver, Jesse “the Body” Ventura, and Gov. Arnold Swarzeneggar (R-Ca.) Chief Justice William Rhenquist, writes famously in his majority opinion: “Whoever wins. We lose.”

(Note. This article may have contained factual errors. This is because most of the “facts” were “lies.” If not lies, pure ignorance and laziness on my part. So, Mr. John Roberts, you might want to check into my sourcing before using any of my case review in your confirmation hearings. Nevertheless, I appreciate your questions. Be sure to stay in touch, especially after you get confirmed to the Court.)