Wednesday, May 29, 2002

The Supreme Court says states have wide immunity when federal agencies investigate complaints about them, then challenge their activities.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, said the framers of the constitution "likely did not envision the intrusion on state sovereignty at issue in today's case." He said the court is "nonetheless confident that it is contrary to their constitutional design."

"By guarding against encroachments by the federal government on fundamental aspects of state sovereignty ... we strive to maintain the balance of power embodied in our Constitution and thus to reduce the risk of tyranny and abuse from either front," Thomas wrote.

(Justice Breyer in dissent) said the majority focuses on "highly abstract" phrases like state dignity and system of federalism instead of things like liberty and due process of law. "They suffer from the disadvantage that they do not actually appear in the Constitution," he said.

Question to Justice Breyer (who penned the decision striking down bans on partial-birth abortions): Where does the word "privacy" appear in the Constitution?

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