Has any American President ever lost in a Supreme Court decision?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by 63dot, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #1
    I have been researching this, and I think for the first time in US history, a sitting US President has lost as a defendant in a US Supreme Court case. Boumediene v. Bush regarding the crime of false imprisonment, a felony.

    I wonder if Bush can actually do time or be fined, as are the two remedies for a crime? The closest a President got to being charged and sentenced would have been Nixon. When Bush first started running the country, I scoffed at the ultra-liberals who compared Bush Jr. to Nixon in terms of criminality. I thought they were conspiracy theorists and made liberals like me look bad.

    I guess I was wrong. I remember a bumper sticker, "From the White House to the Big House." :)
     
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #2
    For what it's worth, as far as I understand the law, Bush was a defendant in a writ of habeas corpus case, which is not a criminal case, although it pertains to a criminal case (in which Bush was not a defendant, obviously). In a criminal case, the plaintiff would be the charging authority (the people of xxx).
     
  3. CWallace macrumors 601

    CWallace

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    #3
    Correct. The case challenged the legality of Boumediene’s detention at the Guantanamo Bay military base as well as the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2006.

    So it was not a criminal case with criminal penalties at stake, at least as it pertains to the President himself.
     
  4. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #4
    Thanks for the replies. I am gearing up for Crim law midterms and working over HC and the elements of that and the "felmers", an acronym of felonies where the "f" stands for "false imprisonment". One of the elements of false imprisonment is the lack of the right of HC given to a detainee from an authority, such as the police, FBI, etc. I just didn't know if I could tie the two in together and see this case a criminal or civil case. I live in a non MPC state (non model penal code) state.

    I know if this goes criminal, in theory, then mens rea, actus reus, concurrence, causation and harm have to be proven BRD (beyond reasonable doubt) on any crime. In a civil case, it's not BRD but a preponderance of the evidence. I know there's just the lack of HC on this case, but for a test, I would have to be able to make a prosecutor's argument for a crime, and a defense attorney's argument for acquittal or lowering of the charges down to a tort.
     
  5. jonbravo77 macrumors 6502a

    jonbravo77

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    #5
    Still, another mark against Bush in the ole history books.
     
  6. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #6
    Hey,

    Speaking about torts, here's one I am struggling with in my studies. It involves the larger concept of a frivolous lawsuit against a big company. It's the famous Palsgraf case which I am sure you guys know about more than me.

    In the concurrence/majority, Justice Cardozo puts forth his theory of "zone of danger" and battles against Justice Andrews "but for" causation argument based on Justice Learned Hand's formula, simplified as AcH+F=N (act causes harm, plus their if fault, then that equals negligence) as it is modernly interpreted as.

    I can make the argument that if some act causes harm plus their is fault by the defendant, then there was negligence done against the plaintiff. I have to be able to take the other side, also, on my torts midterm, and make an argument that because the plaintiff was too far away from the zone of danger, then the defendant is not liable. The defenses are where one scores points on a law school exam.

    Is there anybody that has a good Cardozo argument for Palsgraf? I know it's out there, but I am struggling with this one.
     
  7. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #7
    And finally contracts

    So I put out a crim law case which I got in class and have to craft an argument for it into a crime vs. just a civil case (as I see you guys are saying), and also both sides to the famous Palsgraf torts case I just mentioned.

    Now, how about enforcing a contract if ALL the elements are not there? I have to at least be able to defend a faulty contract convincingly for the big points on a test.

    Next week, Contracts, Torts (namely negligence lawsuits), and Crim Law (working a case like the Bush one with scant facts for the prosecution) should get me ready for test week.

    So here is what I need to be able to do for contracts class.

    The elements of a contract are are offer, offer open, acceptance, and consideration. If one is missing there is no contract. How can you craft an argument that there is one if one of these elements is missing? One girl did this and got the only A in the class last semester. She's our #1 student and can take any minority side and beat us to death with it.

    Basically, we are grading on a bar exam basis with 55 being the score you get by showing up to the test, 63.9 being the equivalent of what it would take to minimally pass a California bar question, and 80 to represent the highest possible bar score normally attained (99th percentile). You get two points for picking out the issue, and the rule, maybe two points for crafting the obvious argument, but 20-30 points for crafting the opposite site, usually the defense. Last year the top student graduated with an 81 overall average so I am just shooting for that 63.9 at this point. The goal for everybody is to hit a 70 at finals by this May. :)

    Even though we actually work through past bar questions and let's say somebody goes through law school exams and graduates with a 73, that person usually, maybe due to stress, historically ends up with a 63 on the real bar exam. Some people from top schools, Boalt from one person I know, had to take the California bar four times before passing. This really sucks.

    Anyway, thanks in advance if you guys can come up with a way to make the Bush case a well argued False Imprisonment criminal case, craft the zone theory argument in Palsgraf for torts, or support a contract argument based on inadequate prima facie elements. This should help me and I know a lot of you out there are lawyers or law school grads.
     
  8. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #8
    Sorry to bug you guys, but one last question beside the 3 questions posted.

    Let's say a 10 year old goes up to an electric company and there is a fence around the company with barbed wire on top and its guarded by dogs and many security guards.

    There are signs everywhere posted that say, "Danger, keep out". And the boy knows how to read and is aware of the fact that nobody is to enter the premises. The boy is aware of trespassing laws. And the boy knows that electricity is dangerous. But he wants to go to school the next day and be able to brag that he can get into "that" plant.

    So let's say the boy digs under the fence, sneaks past the dogs and security guards, enters the facility which has several locked steel doors, which he successfully picks, and eventually manages to get shocked and seriously injured by the central transformer inside the electric plant.

    Now the boy's parents come into your law office and asks you to sue the electric company. What would you say? (And for test purposes, you have to take this case on).

    Secondly, what if the boy were 17 and 364 days old instead of 10 years old?

    How do you win this case for both hypotheticals?

    .....................

    But if we want to keep this confined to original post, what would I do as a prosecutor to take the Bush case and work towards a False Imprisonment conviction? It was the first case we got in law school and they didn't have us do anything except read it. Now we have to perform next week as I am sure we will get a hypothetical case based on facts very similar to this Supreme Court case and it will be a short answer 60 minute question.
     
  9. SkipperStyle macrumors newbie

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    #9
    do we count gore winning in 2000, becoming president elect, then losing gore v bush in the supreme court?
     
  10. mysterytramp macrumors 65816

    mysterytramp

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    #10
    Didn't Clinton actually get "closer"? He was impeached, he was just not convicted (?) (this is civics arcana that would have me running to Wikipedia)

    mt
     
  11. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #11
    Search for "fdr" in Wikipedia and you find:

    "The Supreme Court was the main obstacle to Roosevelt's programs during his second term, overturning many of his programs. In particular in 1935 the Court unanimously ruled that the National Recovery Act (NRA) was an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to the president."
     
  12. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #12
    You don't. In either case the boy was where he wasn't supposed to be and would be charged with trespassing. You can't charge the power company with negligence.
     
  13. bradl macrumors 68040

    bradl

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    #13
    Actually, you'll need to go back a bit further. Andrew Johnson was charged, and fell one vote short of actual impeachment, followed by Clinton. But while Clinton was 22 votes short on one charge and deadlocked on the other, the single/only charge in Johnson's case failed by one.

    BL.
     
  14. luminosity macrumors 65816

    luminosity

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    #14
    I can't believe no one has yet mentioned Nixon v. United States, which was a unanimous decision against Nixon (8-0, with Rehnquist abstaining).
     
  15. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #15
    However, was that the first time the Supreme Court ruled against a president's policies?

    Ever since Marbury v. Madison, the court has been able to rule acts unconstitutional, so I don't think it is, but I can't remember any specific cases.
     
  16. CalBoy macrumors 604

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    #16
    Marbury technically found in favor for Jefferson (or rather Madison, but you know what I mean), and the next case to use judicial review was Dred Scott, which didn't go against one president per se, but the prevailing habits of numerous Congresses (I think it was the Missouri Compromise that was found specifically unconstitutional).

    However, presidents certainly did lose in the policy arena throughout the Gilded Age as the Court struck down most expansions of the Commerce Clause, and FDR felt this pain as well. It wasn't until the Four Horsemen retired that Roosevelt got a favorable Court.
     
  17. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #17
    I guess I'm surprised that the Court hasn't ruled against presidents more often before FDR. I would have thought that Lincoln or a few others might have endured more challenges.
     
  18. CalBoy macrumors 604

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    #18
    Presidents before Teddy Roosevelt, and especially before FDR, were generally weak. Almost all 19th Century Presidents after Van Buren were puppets of the parties they were in. They rarely exercised any genuine power, and Lincoln was certainly the exception (and mostly because there was a real crisis going on). They really had no specific policy to defend before the courts since most policy came out of Congress.

    The modern President who comes in with a wish list is the result of FDR, who actually lost numerous times before the Court until the infamous "switch in time that saved The Nine" (which really didn't happen as you might have guessed).

    I guess the best way to explain it is that since presidents had little power before, they didn't have much to defend. Once they did have power, they suddenly had to defend what they had.
     
  19. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Here are a few things I might use.

    A ten year old boy managed to pick all the locks, which would suggest those locks to be wholly incapable of keeping any competent person out. Unless the boy is a lock-picking prodigy, any dangerous facility should be able to keep him out.

    The fact that there are so many signs might suggest the power plant has a problem with people sneaking into the plant.

    About the age, the law of 7s might work, but I can't think of anything else off the top of my head.

    Wish I could be of more help, but I've purged as much legal knowledge as possible this summer. :)
     
  20. CalBoy macrumors 604

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    #20
    Out of curiosity, what is the Law of 7s?
     
  21. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    Kids:

    Age 7 and under were considered lacking in cause and effect logic.

    Age 7-14 had more wherewithal than those 7 and under.

    14 and above were considered to have relatively the same cognitive abilities of an adult.

    I wish I could give a better, more thorough explanation but I've done a good job of forgetting it. :)
     
  22. CalBoy macrumors 604

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    #22
    Ahh, thought it might be something like that.

    But really, there should be another two tiers:

    21: same cognitive abilities as an adult, but you're too buzzed to realize it. :p

    and

    28: Cognitive abilities of an adult, and you finally use them! :D
     
  23. itcheroni macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    haha :D

    Only problem is, some people never use them!
     
  24. CalBoy macrumors 604

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    #24
    Well naturally.

    How else would lawyers make their living? ;):p
     
  25. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #25
    I think under age 7 could use the attack in court on the power company of "attractive nuisance" as was a similar case hypothetical last semester. While nobody found it fair, or reasonable, cases similar to this have found awards for pesky little kids who do such things. And it's not only kids in torts cases of injury. Remember dumb and dumber when the guy got his tongue stuck to a frozen pole? In theory, he could sue the ski lodge and use the defense that he had "capacity lacking". :)
     

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