Time Winding Down On High Court

supreme court, building, justice, generic CBS

As the Supreme Court's term nears an end, there are still some major decisions pending, but the biggest mystery doesn't involve a case: It's whether any of the justices will retire.

"Anyone who knows about a possible retirement or two isn't talking. And anyone who is talking about those possibilities can't possibly know," says CBSNews.com Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen. "The buzz now suggests that perhaps both the Chief Justice and Justice O'Connor will be back on the bench next term and that's probably what everyone ought to assume will occur."

Among the major rulings left, reports CBS News Correspondent Barry Bagnato, are decisions on Ten Commandments displays, Internet file sharing, homeowners rights, and restraining orders against abusive spouses.

"By far the most interesting case left is the one involving Ten Commandment displays and whether they can be placed on public property," says Cohen. "And it's not surprising that the Justices have left it for last — they usually save their most controversial rulings for the very end of their session."

The Bush administration has argued that Ten Commandments displays should be allowed on government property because they pay tribute to America's religious and legal history.

"The idea of having a fence around the Ten Commandments to make clear the state has nothing to do with it, I think that is bending it too far," said acting Solicitor General Paul Clement in March, in arguing against a strict First Amendment wall between church and state.

David Friedman, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union who is challenging courthouse displays in Kentucky countered: "An assertion that the Ten Commandments is the source, the foundation of our legal system ... that is simply wrapping the Ten Commandments in the flag, and that's endorsement."

The Supreme Court expressed concerns in March over allowing entertainment companies to sue makers of software that allows Internet users to illegally download music and movies, questioning whether the threat of such legal action might stifle Web innovation.
  • Lloyd Vries

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.