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If the reaction of interest groups across the political spectrum is an accurate barometer, then this Supreme Court is operating close to the political center. From the liberal American Civil Liberties Union to the conservative Washington Legal Foundation, the organizations that frequently file amicus briefs at the Court were able to say at term’s end that the justices had gone their way in some key cases. But each also suffered its share of losses. The ACLU, which was the most frequent filer, with 18 amicus briefs and five cases in which it represented a party, won 11 and lost 12. Legal Director Steven Shapiro describes the session as a mixture of surprising success and acute disappointments for civil liberties causes. “The roadblock case [ Indianapolis v. Edmond, No. 99-1030] was a major win, and the immigration cases [ Calcano-Martinez v. INS, No. 00-1011, and INS v. St. Cyr, No. 00-767] were enormously important cases as well,” says Shapiro. In Edmond, the Court struck down by a 6-3 margin a city’s use of random checkpoints to search motorists for drugs. In Calcano-Martinez and St. Cyr, the Court ruled 5-4 that an alien could use habeas corpus to obtain court review of a deportation order, despite a 1996 federal law intended to cut down on immigration appeals. “On the other hand,” Shapiro says, “ Garrett and Sandoval were major losses for the civil rights community.” In University of Alabama v. Garrett, No. 99-1240, a narrowly divided Court ruled that under the 11th Amendment, states are immune from suit under the Americans With Disabilities Act. In Alexander v. Sandoval, No. 99-1908, the Court, again dividing 5-4, found that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 cannot be used by a private citizen to bring a lawsuit against state policies that have a disparate impact on a racial minority. Another 5-4 ruling, Atwater v. City of Lago Vista, No. 99-1408, also draws criticism from Shapiro, not so much for the case itself as for the way it might be used in the future. In Atwater, the Court held that police have discretion to arrest and handcuff a person for a minor offense, in this case a seat belt violation. “This got portrayed as a soccer mom case,” Shapiro says, “but I consider it a big loss primarily because it invites racial profiling. Just look at Justice [Sandra Day] O’Connor’s dissent.” Lisa Kemler, who co-chairs the amicus committee of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, also sees the term as a mixed bag. Kemler, a criminal defense attorney in Alexandria, Va., says her side “lost several cases that we expected to lose.” She takes heart from Kyllo v. United States, No. 99-8508, another 5-4 ruling, which held that the Fourth Amendment prohibits federal agents from using a thermal-imaging device from afar to monitor activities inside a home. “When you have Justice [Antonin] Scalia writing the kind of decision he wrote in Kyllo, you can conclude that here’s some hope yet for the Fourth Amendment,” says Kemler. The NACDL filed amicus briefs in 15 cases last term, winning eight and losing seven. The National Women’s Law Center, another group on the liberal side of the spectrum, participated in six cases, with two wins and four losses. Co-president Marcia Greenberger says the defeat with “the most potentially overarching significance” was Nguyen v. INS, No. 99-2071, which upheld a federal law imposing different requirements on unwed mothers and unwed fathers who wish to confer citizenship on their out-of-wedlock children. “In this case, a slim majority reverted to reliance on an old stereotype based on sex,” says Greenberger. “Here, it was used to justify disadvantaging a father, but these stereotypes usually disadvantage women and mothers. We thought this Court had gotten past that kind of thinking.” Greenberger says an important win for civil liberties and women’s rights came in Ferguson v. City of Charleston, No. 99-936, in which the Court held by a 6-3 margin that a state cannot test pregnant women for drugs, then report the results to police. “That [city policy] was a highly improper practice, both because of its impact on pregnant women and because it would deter women from seeking health care. It was flawed as a matter of law and policy,” says Greenberger. On the conservative side, the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which advocates for the interests of crime victims and law enforcement, had success in the Supreme Court this term, says Legal Director Kent Scheidegger. The foundation won six cases and lost one. “We did well on the issues we were concerned with. On the whole, this Court is receptive to our concerns,” says Scheidegger. “But there were no blockbuster cases. Sometimes, you just spend time filling in the details.” One notable case that Scheidegger mentions is Shaw v. Murphy, No. 99-1613, a unanimous ruling that a prisoner has no constitutional right under the First Amendment to give legal advice to fellow inmates. The Washington Legal Foundation took part in 12 cases, with seven wins, four losses, and one that had both positive and negative elements. “It was a mixed term. In terms of business-related cases, we were quite happy,” says Legal Director Richard Samp. “ Cooper Industries was a very good decision on punitive damages, and Buckman was a very strong pre-emption case. And, of course, there was a tremendous win in Alexander v. Sandoval.” In Cooper Industries v. Leatherman Tool Group Inc., No. 99-2035, the Court ruled 8-1 that courts should apply a de novo standard in reviewing district court determinations of the constitutionality of punitive damage awards. In Buckman v. Plaintiffs Legal Committee, No. 98-1768, the Court held unanimously that state-court lawsuits regarding alleged fraud on the Food and Drug Administration are pre-empted by federal regulation of medical devices. Samp says the WLF was much less pleased with the Court’s decisions in immigration and Fourth Amendment cases, two of its other litigation interests. He noted the Indianapolis roadblock case and the St. Cyr habeas ruling as two significant disappointments. Also on the pro-business front, the Equal Employment Advisory Council, which represents businesses in employment matters, was another interest group that had mixed results this term. Ann Reesman, the Washington, D.C.-based group’s general counsel, points to big wins in Circuit City Inc. v. Adams, No. 99-1379, and Green Tree Financial Corp v. Randolph, No. 99-1235, both of which broadened the permissible use of arbitration in business disputes. The group also found considerable comfort in PGA Tour Inc. v. Martin, No. 00-0024, which, although it found in favor of disabled golfer Casey Martin’s Americans With Disabilities Act claim against the golf tour, employed a rationale that seemed to limit the decision’s scope and not to broaden ADA protections in employment. Reesman’s group lost in Eastern Associated Coal Corp. v. United Mine Workers, No. 99-1038, which held that a court must enforce an arbitration award requiring a company to rehire a person who failed two drug tests. “In general, I think this Court has a good awareness of the business consequences of its decisions,” says Reesman.

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