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Sam Heldman


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Tuesday, April 01, 2003
Catching up

I know there are hundreds ... wait, make that dozens ... okay, several people out there, who are dying to know, or at least mildly curious, or more probably indifferent toward the reasons that I haven't posted a prediction for last Tuesday's argument in No. 02-403 FEC v. Beaumont. There is really no reason. The case is about whether Congress may ban direct campaign contributions by corporations, where the corporation exists solely for politcal advocacy. The Fourth Circuit held that it could not. I predict the Court will REVERSE.

So that takes care of last week. What about this week?

No. 02-281 Inyo County v. Paiute-Shoshone Indians

Let me be the first to predict that no matter which way this ruling comes down, some blogger will come up with the clever headline: Inyo Face! You can read a good description of this case on SCOTUSblog. The case is about whether search warrants may be executed on reservation land without violating a tribe's sovereign immunity. The Ninth Circuit held for the Indians. In the briefing process, the Solicitor General weighed in to say that the United States doesn't think that Indian Tribes may sue under § 1983. I think that's as good a reason as any for the Supreme Court to manage not to side with the Indians. I predict the Court will REVERSE.

No. 01-1757 Stogner v. California

This case is about whether a state may retroactively remove the statute of limitations without violating the Ex-Post Facto Clause, or Due Process. Specifically, Stogner was charged with child molestation for crimes that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s. Stogner claims that to prosecute him now violates the Ex-Post Facto clause because the statute of limitations was an element of the crime, and because it upsets the finality and fairness represented by the statute of limitations.

In other words, Stogner claims that the original crime was "child molestation is prohibited if we catch you within the statute of limitations," and the new formulation, "child molestation is prohibited no matter when we catch you," violates the Ex-Post Facto Clause because Stogner's behavior of (allegedly) molesting a child and not being caught within the statute of limitations is being made illegal after the fact. I wish him good luck with that argument. The second argument boils down to the following: California may not remove the statute of limitations because it upsets Stogner's settled expectation that he had (allegedly) gotten away with it. I predict the Court will AFFIRM.