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Trick Questions for Sarah

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | October 1, 2008

Posted by Cliff Tuttle

With the Vice Presidential Debate coming up, there has been speculation in certain quarters that Governor Sarah Palin will not be able to hold up her end of the debate. Why? Most of us didn’t know the Bush Doctrine from the Defenestration of Prague before Charles Gibson launched that torpedo. Most of us still don’t.

Amid all this speculation, CBS has been accused of leaking one segment of a yet-to-be-broadcast interview in which the Republican Vice Presidential candidate was unable to name any US Supreme Court case except Roe v. Wade.

What is going on here? Does the fact that Palin, a non-lawyer, might someday be President and thus nominating members of the judiciary, justify this kind of vetting? And is it meaningful? [Quick — name a US Supreme Court case!] Perhaps her rival, Senator Biden, who might someday appoint a future Secretary of the Interior, should also be given a quiz on Alaskan wildlife and natural resources. Of course, that won’t happen. It wouldn’t be as much fun as picking on little Sarah.

However, in the spirit of the game, I have put together a few unfair questions about the Supreme Court that might be used to try to embarrass anyone.

Q: What is the issue raised in Locke v. Karass, scheduled to be the second of three cases to be heard by the United States Supreme Court on October 6?

A: This case addresses whether a public-sector union may include litigation costs, funded through pooling arrangements with other unions, in the service fee it charges non-members. Click here for more on this fascinating subject.

Q: In the case of Clevenger v. Cutlar, currently in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, jurisdiction was asserted under Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). What is a Bivens action?

A: In this case the United States Supreme Court held that an individual has an implied cause of action when his/her Fourth Amendment freedom from unreasonable search and seizure is violated by federal agents. If you don’t believe it, or maybe you do, click here.

Q: What is the holding in the Landmark Supreme Court Case of Marbury v. Madison and why is it important?

A: Marbury v. Madison held Section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 unconstitutional, since Congress cannot enlarge the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court beyond that permitted by the Constitution. This case is credited with establishing the principle of judicial review of Acts of Congress. To improve your education on Constitutional Law, click here.

Q: Some Congressional critics of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 expressed concern that that the Bush proposal would represent an unconstitutional delegation of spending powers granted to Congress by Article I of the US Constitution. What is Article I about?

A: Too long — click here.

And one more:

Q: How many types of Polar Bears are there in Alaska?

A: Look it up. Click here.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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