Meaning of YEAR IN REVIEW 2001: LAW-CRIME-AND-LAW-ENFORCEMENT in English
- YEAR IN REVIEW 2001: LAW-CRIME-AND-LAW-ENFORCEMENT
Court Decisions The United States courts decided a number of important and controversial cases during 2000, but none that would be recalled with such scrutiny and passion as the ones involving the election of the 43rd American president. The closest U.S. presidential election in modern history, the race between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush hinged on the outcome in Florida. With less than 0.5% of the vote separating the candidates, an automatic recount was triggered. As Bush's winning margin dwindled, methods were sought to determine the intent of voters who filed disqualified ballots in a number of traditionally Democratic counties; the Republicans, meanwhile, fought to bar recounts and objected staunchly to any human determination of voters' intentions. There w ere also disputes over the discretionary authority of the Florida secretary of state, and a spate of trial court rulings as well as two decisions by the Florida Supreme Court transferred what would have been political questions into justiciable disputes or, as some would say, politicized Florida's legal system. Finally, in a decision every bit as divided as public opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on December 12 that the manual recount of ballots required by the Florida Supreme Court was unconstitutional, effectively determining the winner. George W. Bush claimed Florida's 25 votes in the Electoral College and the victory in the 2000 election. The U.S. Supreme Court also addressed such contentious issues as abortion rights, the First Amendment freedoms of speech and association, church-state relations, and criminal law. To that list the court added a selection of cases dealing with federalism as well as newly ripe issues involving governmental regulation and public health. One of the distinguishing characteristics of these cases was that they did not appear to have been selected for the purpose of promulgating doctrinal changes in the law. The Supreme Court's decisions reflected a pattern of predictability and ideological moderation. In the pair of cases involving laws pertaining to abortion, the court expanded procreative freedom on two fronts. By striking down a Nebraska law criminalizing "partial-birth" abortions, the authority of women and their physicians to make procedural decisions free from an undue burden imposed by the state was upheld in Stenberg v. Carhart. Furthering the rights of those seeking to procure an abortion, in Hill v. Colorado the court upheld a law restricting protests in the immediate vicinity of abortion clinics. Balancing the First Amendment rights of protesters and the privacy rights of women, the court reasoned "private citizens have always retained the power to decide for themselves what they wish to read, and within limits, what oral messages they want to consider. This statute simply empowers private citizens entering a health care facility with the ability to prevent a speaker, who is within eight feet and advancing, from communicating a message they do not wish to hear." Falling more squarely under the rubric of association rights were a pair of cases involving the deliberate exclusion of gays from the Boy Scouts and the constitutionality of California's "blanket primary." The common denominator of these cases was a presumed right to permit organizational exclusivity. In Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, the court ruled 5-4 that application of New Jersey's public accommodations law, designed in part to prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation, constituted a violation of the Boy Scouts' freedom of expressive association. Arguing that retaining James Dale-an openly gay Scout leader-would "significantly burden the organization's right to oppose or disfavor homosexual conduct," Chief Justice William Rehnquist blunted what he called the "severe intrusion" of public law into the private organization's values and rules. In California Democratic Party v. Jones, the court declared unconstitutional Proposition 198, a 1996 law that permitted voters to choose among all candidates regardless of party affiliation in the state's primary election. Rebuking the argument that the law serves the compelling state interest of promoting, inter alia, fairness, participation, choice, and privacy, the court supported the party's right of exclusive association and participation, proffering that "in no area is the political association's right to exclude more important than in the process of selecting its nominee." In another set of First Amendment cases, the court addressed the controversial subject of church-state relations. Forging an accommodationist path in Mitchell v. Helms, the court upheld Chapter 2 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981, which provided equipment and materials funding for public and private schools alike. Reasoning that the law results in neither governmental indoctrination nor decisions made by reference to religion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the allocation of funds to parochial schools under Chapter 2 could not be construed as a "law respecting an establishment of religion." In Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, which involved the practice of an elected student council chaplain broadcasting over the intercom a prayer at the beginning of every varsity football game, however, the court adopted a separationist position on the establishment clause. In striking down the school district's policy, the court explained that such invocations could not be regarded as "private speech," and that despite the majoritarian process of electing the student council chaplain, the school's policy "does nothing to protect minority views but rather places the students who hold such views at the mercy of the majority." In the area of criminal law, the court reiterated its objection to enhanced penalties for hate crimes in Apprendi v. New Jersey, prohibited random drug checkpoints in Indianapolis v. Edmond, and, perhaps most significantly, stabilized what appeared to be the eroding foundation of "Miranda warnings"-statement rights guaranteed to the criminally accused-in Dickerson v. United States. Despite a heated dissent from Justice Antonin Scalia, the court ruled that Miranda rights were, in fact, constitutional rights and therefore could not be denied through legislation passed by Congress. The court also addressed a number of cases involving federalism and governmental regulation. In two important rulings it limited states' rights. In holding that state law must yield to federal law in the conduct of foreign policy in Crosby v. National Foreign Trade Council, the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law barring state entities from conducting business with Myanmar (Burma) because it conflicted with an act of Congress. In Reno v. Condon, the court upheld the Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994, which restricted states from disclosing drivers' personal information without their consent. On regulatory policy, the court addressed what Justice Sandra Day O'Connor called "one of the most troubling public health problems facing our Nation today"-tobacco use. In what would likely become a central case in the field of administrative law, the court in Food and Drug Administration v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. disallowed FDA regulation of tobacco. Because Congress had clearly "precluded the FDA from asserting jurisdiction to regulate tobacco products," the agency could not, under the rubric of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, regulate cigarettes as delivery devices for the drug nicotine. In the emerging field of "cyberlaw," the dominant cases addressed by the lower strata of the federal judiciary involved the Microsoft Corp. and Napster, Inc. Concluding that Microsoft violated antitrust laws, District of Columbia District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson called for the divestiture of the software giant, effectively splitting the company's operation in two. On July 26, U.S. Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the Northern District of California ordered Napster, the Internet start-up company that facilitated free on-line music trading, to shut down its World Wide Web site. A stay of injunction from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals followed two days later. The German-based Bertelsmann AG, which was suing Napster, offered to drop its suit-and encouraged other plaintiffs to do so as well-and merge with Napster to provide a fee-based operation that would solve the company's legal problems through settlement rather than litigation. Brian Smentkowski International Law International law continued to evolve in the areas of human rights, international security, and trade. In addition, the pressures of globalization and the consequences of the expanding web of international agreements shaped state interactions throughout 2000. (See Economic Affairs: Sidebar.) Prisons and Penology The prison populations of most countries continued to rise in 2000. Of the worldwide total of 8.6 million persons who were either untried or not yet sentenced, approximately half was accounted for by the United States, Russia, and China. Although the U.S. total exceeded two million for the first time, the 3.4% rate of growth during 1999 was half the annual average achieved during the previous 10 years. Only the U.S. and Russia had prison population rates of about 700 per 100,000 inhabitants. England and Wales were at the midpoint on the world list with rates of 125, while China's rate was 110. One-third of the countries had rates of 150 or higher, and almost all of them were in southern Africa, the Caribbean, former Soviet Central Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe. In May, Russian authorities, celebrating the 55th anniversary of the defeat of Germany, authorized the release of 120,000 prisoners. This measure, however, provided only marginal and temporary relief for the crowded conditions (Butyrsky Prison in Moscow, two centuries old, held 5,500 persons in cells designed for 2,500) and for the tuberculosis epidemic among the nation's prisoners, described by Mdecins Sans Frontires (Doctors Without Borders) as a threat to world health. In South Korea 3,586 prisoners were released to mark the anniversary of liberation from Japan's colonial rule in 1945, and in Pakistan, 20,000 persons were released. Amnesties were also under consideration in Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Italy. Pope John Paul II stated in a message to governments across the world: "A reduction, even a modest one, of the term of punishment would be for prisoners a clear sign of sensitivity to their condition." In many parts of the world, prison conditions reached new depths of degradation and despair. In South Africa (where the rise in untried prisoners was especially sharp), many prisons, including juvenile institutions, remained grossly overcrowded. In Thailand 200,000 persons were being held in facilities designed for 80,000, and severe overcrowding and explosive conditions were reported across much of Latin America. In the Czech Republic, with 24,000 prisoners held in facilities designed for 19,500, a widespread hunger strike drew attention to deteriorating conditions. In Brazil troops put down a riot at the juvenile Tauape Detention Centre in May, and in the following months at a prison in Curitiba, guards were taken hostage during two riots that focused on crowded conditions. At Lurigancho, Peru's largest prison, five prisoners were killed in a riot during which court delays and crowding (6,000 persons against a capacity of 1,500) were cited as aggravating issues. The U.S. Department of Justice found that there had been beatings and other forms of abuse of inmates by guards at the Jena Juvenile Justice Center in Louisiana; it was run by the Wackenhut Corrections Corp., which managed penal institutions with a total of almost 41,000 beds in North America, Europe, Australia, and Africa. Crime Terrorism. In its latest review of patterns of global terrorism, the U.S. Department of State in 2000 reported an encouraging and sharp decrease in the number of deaths and injuries caused by terrorist attacks. During 1999, 233 persons were killed and 706 wounded, compared with 741 deaths and 5,952 injuries in 1998. For the first time the review also identified South Asia, in addition to the Middle East, as a major hub of international terrorism. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan were accused of providing continuing support to international terrorists, including the notorious group led by Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind behind the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. In the Middle East, in the midst of escalating violence between Israelis and Arabs, suicide bombers carried out a deadly attack on October 12 against a U.S. Navy ship in the Yemeni port of Aden. The USS Cole, a modern missile-armed destroyer, was crippled by an explosion that ripped a huge hole in its hull and left 17 sailors dead and 39 wounded. The suicide mission appeared to have been launched from a small boat. As a massive investigation got under way to identify the attackers, officials stated that no credible claim of responsibility had been made for what was the bloodiest terrorist strike on the U.S. military since the 1996 bombing of U.S. Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19. A spate of bombings and kidnappings in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia during the year prompted rising concern about the terrorist threat in Southeast Asia and, in particular, from Muslim extremist groups. In April one of those groups, the Abu Sayyaf, seized 21 hostages from a tourist diving resort in Malaysia and then held them captive on the Philippine island of Jolo, 900 km (565 mi) south of Manila in the Sulu Sea. The kidnappers demanded substantial ransoms for their captives, who included a number of foreign tourists. As negotiations continued for the release of the hostages, the Libyan government and others were reported to have paid as much as $15 million to secure the freedom of the foreign captives. According to terrorism experts, such kidnappings were part of a growing global industry. An authoritative insurance industry survey reported that in 1999, 1,789 kidnappings for ransom occurred worldwide, almost all in the top 10 high-risk countries, led by Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil. Drug Trafficking. A World Bank study published in June reported that rebel groups involved in conflicts throughout the world were more often motivated by the pursuit of lucrative commodities such as drugs and diamonds than they were by political, religious, or other goals. The study, which reviewed 47 civil wars that took place from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe between 1960 and 1999, found that the single biggest risk factor for the outbreak of conflict was a nation's economic dependence on commodities and an eagerness to profit from them. In Colombia, for example, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's largest rebel group, was said in reality to be a huge narcotics organization maintaining a force of 12,000 paid workers and fighters paid for by $700 million in annual drug-trafficking revenues. In August, during a brief visit to Colombia, U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton reinforced the commitment of the U.S. to assisting that nation in retaking control of the nearly half of its territory lost to rebel groups such as the FARC. This commitment included $1.3 billion in mostly military aid approved by the U.S. Congress. U.S. officials estimated that 90% of the cocaine and much of the heroin consumed in the U.S. originated in or passed through Colombia. Law-enforcement officials in both Europe and North America reported record seizures throughout the year of the so-called mood-enhancing "hug drug" ecstasy, or 3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), as it was known scientifically. It was thought that at least 80% of all of the world's ecstasy was produced in clandestine urban laboratories established in The Netherlands. Most of the chemicals required for manufacturing the drug remained controlled under international law, but supplies were believed to be readily available from illicit sources in Eastern Europe.
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