Guided response: The vast majority of legal scholars who review Supreme Court cases agree on the “political leanings” of varying U.S. Supreme Court eras. Explain the consensus of the current Supreme Court, and evaluate how that political leaning will shape pending U.S. Supreme Court issues. Review your colleagues’ posts, and substantively respond to at least two of your peers
ThursdayMay 2 at 2:19amManage Discussion Entry
Modern Composition of U.S. Supreme Court
“A legally conservative philosophy tries to discern what the textual meaning of a constitutional or statutory provision is. This a historical analysis based on the text of the provision as contextually understood when passed or adopted. By way of example, the current modern usage of terms that are also found in the U. S. Constitution may bear little relationship to the understanding of those terms at the time of the ratification of the Constitution. To determine the meaning of the provision, the terms must be understood in both the internal and external context that existed at its ratification. It is legally conservative to attempt to discern the common meaning as expressed in the text and shared by the drafters and ratifiers. One may ask honestly what the alternative to this basic interpretive approach is, and the answer usually is an ad hoc approach that depends on who the judge is, not what the constitution or the law meant. This is a core concept for to a large degree it determines whether we have a government of laws or men.”
We are living in a world of technology and should remember judges are human; they are subjective to change their views. Sometimes their views do not always align with the general public. Sometimes the news media, politicians, and community relationships play a major role and have a major impact when some of these judges are making a decision.
The news media along with public opinion play a major role when a judge is deciding Because some of these are looking at the impact that their decision will affect people or business for years to come. Some are looking at how their decision would affect their family members, in the years to come. They do not want to go down in history as that judge that screwed the American public with one bad decision. On the other hand, if a judge decided to help the general public as Chief Justice Roberts did with the Affordable Health Care Act. Millions of Americans obtained health insurance. Millions of Americans opposed his decision and today, some of them still that he sold them out.
“Generally, liberal judges tend to interpret the law in a way that gives people more freedom. Now the above explanation may seem to suggest that the distinction between a conservative and liberal judge is clear.”
Today it is not impossible to see how a judge will vote, but you should not be surprised, with the way they vote. One should remember we are living in a world of technology and judges are human and could be persuaded to vote either way.
FridayMay 3 at 10:45pmManage Discussion Entry
I believe the Supreme Court justices are especially susceptible politics for the mere fact that all of them are nominated by the president of the United States and secondly voted in by the United States Senate. In most cases, because the president usually chooses someone who shares similar ideas and values as he does for the nominee. A conservative judge is one who goes strictly by the book and upholds the statues and amendments put in place before him. A conservative judge is one who is going to stand firm on what the law literally state and will not be easily swayed by the grey area or loose interpretation of the law. Waldman (2014) states, that according to liberals, conservative judges talk about “original intent” and promise to interpret the constitution as is. However, conservative judges cannot actually maintain such a promise because “original intent” is flexible by nature, and therefore, it is an impractical rationale. A conservative judge is not worried about the outcome of the case where is a liberal judge is. A liberal judge uses a more unrestrained interpretation of the law and will include their own morals in their decisions. Liberals pretend to believe in abstract ideas, when in actuality, they merely want the people they like, to prevail in every case that comes before the courts (Waldman, 2014). I think having both conflicting views are beneficial to the Supreme Court because it in a way creates a balance. Politics, whether we like it or not aren’t going anywhere and will forever play a big role in the government at every level state, local, or federal-politics, are everywhere.
Building on the information garnered in the course from previous readings and assignments, critically evaluate one of the above U.S. Supreme Court cases. Can you see evidence of the court’s political leanings? Why or why not? Does anything in the majority opinion go against what you would consider to be the current court’s political leanings? Provide your own opinion of whether or not the court ruled and reasoned correctly; fully explain your opinion in either regard. Review your colleagues’ posts, and substantively respond to at least two of your peers.
FridayMay 3 at 8:44amManage Discussion Entry
When Terrence Graham was 16 years old he was convicted of armed burglary and attempted armed robbery. He served a 12 month sentence and was released. Six months later Mr. Graham was tried and convicted by a Florida state court of armed home robbery and sentenced to life in prison without parole. On appeal, he argued that the imposition of a life sentence without parole on a juvenile, on its face, violated the Eighth Amendment and moreover constituted cruel and unusual punishment, and thus violated the Eighth Amendment. The District Court of Appeal of Florida disagreed. It held that Mr. Graham’s sentence neither was a facial violation of the Eighth Amendment nor constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010), was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United StatesLinks to an external site. holding that juvenileLinks to an external site. offenders cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment without paroleLinks to an external site. for non-homicide offenses.
Terrance Jamar Graham (born January 6, 1987), along with two accomplices, attempted to rob a barbecueLinks to an external site. restaurant in JacksonvilleLinks to an external site., FloridaLinks to an external site. in July 2003. Aged 16 at the time, Graham was arrested for the robbery attempt and was charged as an adult for armed burglary with assault and battery, as well as attempted armed robbery. The first charge was a first-degree felony that is punishable by life. He pleaded guilty and his plea was accepted.
Six months later, on December 2, 2004, Graham was arrested again for home invasion robbery. Though Graham denied involvement, he acknowledged that he was in violation of his plea agreement. In 2006, the presiding judge sentenced Graham to life in prison. Because Florida abolished paroleLinks to an external site., it became effectively a life sentence without parole.
In June 2012, in the related Miller v. AlabamaLinks to an external site., the Court ruled that mandatory sentences for life without parole for juvenile offenders, even in cases of murder, was cruel and unusual punishmentLinks to an external site. in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.Links to an external site.
Holding: Sentencing an individual to life imprisonment without parole for a non-homicide crime committed before the defendant reached the age of 18 violates the Eighth Amendment.
Justice KennedyLinks to an external site. delivered the opinion of the Court:
The Constitution prohibits the imposition of a life without parole sentence on a juvenile offender who did not commit homicide. A State need not guarantee the offender eventual release, but if it imposes a sentence of life it must provide him or her with some realistic opportunity to obtain release before the end of that term. The judgment of the First District Court of Appeal of Florida is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
Yes. The Supreme Court held that the Eight Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause does not permit a juvenile offender to be sentenced to life in prison without parole for a non-homicidal crime. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, reasoned that because this case implicates a particular type of sentence as it applies to an entire class of offenders (juveniles), the categorical analysis under Atkins, Roper, and Kennedy governs. Under this approach, the Court must: (1) consider objective indicia of society’s standards and (2) determine whether the punishment in question violates the Constitution guided by the standards elaborated by controlling precedents. Here, the Court concluded that both (1) and (2) indicated that the punishment in question for the class in question was unconstitutional. The Court made a point to note that life sentences for juveniles for non-homicidal crimes has been “rejected the world over.”
Chief Justice John G. Roberts wrote separately, concurring in the judgment. He disagreed with the manner in which the majority reached its conclusion. Instead, he made his conclusion based on: (1) Supreme Court cases requiring “narrow proportionality” review of non-capital sentences and (2) the Supreme Court’s conclusion in Roper that juvenile offenders are generally less culpable than adults who commit the same crimes. Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin G. Scalia, and in part by Justice Samuel A. Alito, dissented. Justice Thomas reprimanded the majority for replacing its own moral judgment for that of American citizens who up to this point had been charged with making the moral distinction as to whether this sentence could ever be imposed. Justice Alito also wrote a separate dissenting opinion. He departed from Justice Thomas’s dissent to note that “nothing in the Court’s opinion affects the imposition of a sentence to a term of years without the possibility of parole.” He also would not have reached the issue as to whether Mr. Graham’s sentence as-applied violated the Eighth Amendment. He would only have reached the question of whether such sentences categorically violate the Eighth Amendment.
Additional support for the Court’s conclusion lies in the fact that the sentencing practice at issue has been rejected the world over: The United States is the only Nation that imposes this type of sentence. While the judgments of other nations and the international community are not dis-positive as to the meaning of the Eighth Amendment, the Court has looked abroad to support its independent conclusion that a particular punishment is cruel and unusual. See, e.g., Roper, supra, at 575–578. Pp. 29–31.
In February 2012, Terrance Jamar Graham was re-sentenced by the original trial judge to a 25-year sentence.
SaturdayMay 4 at 8pmManage Discussion Entry
The case I chose to discuss is Graham v. Florida (2010) [Life Sentence for Juvenile Violate Eighth Amendment?] When Terrence Graham was 16 years old he was convicted of armed burglary and attempted armed robbery. He served a 12-month sentence and was released. Six months later Mr. Graham was tried and convicted by a Florida state court of armed home robbery and sentenced to life in prison without parole. On appeal, he argued that the imposition of a life sentence without parole on a juvenile, on its face, violated the Eighth Amendment and moreover constituted cruel and unusual punishment, and thus violated the Eighth Amendment. The District Court of Appeal of Florida disagreed. It held that Mr. Graham’s sentence neither was a facial violation of the Eighth Amendment nor constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
In this case the Supreme Court came with a decision of 6-3 in favor of Terrence Graham majority opinion by Anthony M. Kennedy. The Supreme Court held that the Eight Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause does not permit a juvenile offender to be sentenced to life in prison without parole for a non-homicidal crime. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, reasoned that because this case implicates a particular type of sentence as it applies to an entire class of offenders (juveniles), the categorical analysis under Atkins, Roper, and Kennedy governs. Under this approach, the Court must: (1) consider objective indicia of society’s standards and (2) determine whether the punishment in question violates the Constitution guided by the standards elaborated by controlling precedents. Here, the Court concluded that both (1) and (2) indicated that the punishment in question for the class in question was unconstitutional.
The Court made a point to note that life sentences for juveniles for non-homicidal crimes has been “rejected the world over.”. I feel a juvenile should never be given a life sentence, because a child can be rehabilitated or have their thought process retrained. Many times, juvenile are victim by circumstance, depending on their environment and feel they do what they have to in order to survive. Juveniles learn to adapt to the environment they are place in if a teen is taught how to handle situations differently and nonviolently, thinking before acting many teen would be able to turn their lives around. With the Supreme Court rule in this juvenile favor, hopefully he will learn from the mistakes he has made and see the second chance he is being given.
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