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Beginning today, law.com will host a free, two-week, online seminar on the 1999-2000 U.S. Supreme Court Term. Prominent constitutional law professor Erwin Chemerinsky and an expert panel of scholars, Supreme Court insiders and attorneys who argued some of the most controversial cases this term will discuss and debate the ramifications of each decision. To participate, please visit www.law.com/seminars, select the Supreme Court program and fill out our brief program registration form. If you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected] The following article by Professor Chemerinsky summarizes the highlights of this groundbreaking term: By any measure, the Supreme Court’s term, which ended on June 28, 2000, was extraordinary. No term in recent memory had as many high-profile cases on as many different areas of law. The Court’s decisions ranged from whether Miranda should be overruled to grandparents’ rights; from partial birth abortion to aid to parochial schools; from gay rights to federalism. The decisions from this term are sure to be discussed and relied on for years to come. If forced to choose, these are the cases that I regard as the most important of the term. FEDERALISM The most dramatic changes in constitutional law in the last decade have been in the area of federalism as the Supreme Court has narrowed the scope of congressional power, used the 10th Amendment as a limit on federal authority, and greatly expanded the immunity of state and local governments to suit in federal court. In United States v. Morrison, 120 S. Ct. 1740 (2000), the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a provision of the Violence Against Women Act that authorizes civil suits by victims of gender-motivated violence. The Court held that the federal law exceeded the scope of Congress’ authority under both the Commerce Clause and section five of the 14th Amendment. The case undoubtedly will lead to attacks on the constitutionality of dozens of federal laws as exceeding the scope of federal power. In Kimel v. Florida Board of Regents, 120 S. Ct. 631 (2000), the Court held that the 11th Amendment and state sovereign immunity bar suits against state governments for violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The Court ruled that the age discrimination law was not a valid exercise of Congress’ power under section five of the 14th Amendment and thus could not be used as a basis for suing state governments. CRIMINAL PROCEDURE The term produced many very important rulings concerning Apprendi v. New Jersey, criminal procedure. The most important likely was 120 S. Ct. 2348 (2000), in which the Court held that any factor that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum, other than the fact of a prior conviction, must be submitted to a jury and proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Apprendi shot a gun into a home, a crime that would be punishable by five to 10 years in prison, but a 12-year prison sentence was imposed because the judge concluded that the crime was hate-motivated. The Supreme Court ruled that this was not simply a factor in sentencing, but rather, an element of the offense that required proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Apprendi, in just two months, already has produced dozens of lower court decisions considering its scope and retroactivity. The criminal procedure case that received the most attention was Dickerson v. United States, 120 S. Ct. 2326 (2000). The Court ruled that the federal statute, 18 U.S.C. Section 3501, which allows for the introduction of voluntary confessions, even without proper administration of Miranda warnings, is unconstitutional. The Court, in a 7-2 decision, held that Miranda v. Arizona is based on the Fifth Amendment and is reaffirmed. FIRST AMENDMENT AND RELIGION In Mitchell v. Helms, 120 S. Ct. 2348 (2000), the Court overruled two earlier decisions from the 1970s and held that the government may provide instructional equipment to parochial schools. However, there was no majority opinion for the Court and thus the law concerning aid to parochial schools is quite uncertain. Four justices, in a plurality opinion, said that the government may give any aid to parochial schools, even for religious purposes, so long as all schools are treated equally. Two justices, concurring in the judgment, said that government aid can not be used for religious instruction. Three justices dissented and said that the government should not be able to give aid that is of a type that likely could be used for religious instruction. In Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, 120 S. Ct. 2464 (2000), the Court declared unconstitutional a school policy permitting student-initiated, student-led prayers at football games. The Court followed almost 40 years of precedent in ruling that the government violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment when it encourages prayer at public school events. FIRST AMENDMENT – ASSOCIATION In Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 120 S. Ct. 2446 (2000), the Court ruled that the Boy Scouts of America have a constitutional right, based on freedom of association, to exclude gays. The Court held that the application of a New Jersey anti-discrimination law against the Boy Scouts to prevent exclusion of a gay assistant scout leader violated the First Amendment. ABORTION RIGHTS In Stenberg v. Carhart, 120 S. Ct. 2597 (2000), the Court declared unconstitutional a state law prohibiting “partial birth abortions.” Nebraska, like 30 other states, prohibited the procedure called “partial birth abortions,” which was defined in the law as the intentional removal of a significant part of a living fetus from the womb for the purposes of then aborting it. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that the Nebraska law was an unconstitutional undue burden on a woman’s right to abortion. CONCLUSION These, of course, are just some of the highlights of the term. By any standard, it really was a term to discuss and remember.

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