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Old July 6, 2010, 06:59 AM   #1
ISC
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What happens if an administration refuses to follow a Supreme Court ruling?

I read this article about the animosity of the Obama administration towards the John Roberts Supreme Court:

http://www.latimes.com/news/health/l...,7184862.story

It made me wonder what would happen if the Executive branch of government refuses to acknowledge and obey a directive of the Supreme Court. It isn't without precedent. One case in particular comes to mind that stands out as one of the most shamefull moments in American history.

During Andrew Jackson's presidency the Cherokee nation won a Supreme Court decision that was supposed to prevent them from being kicked off their land. Afterwards, by one vote, the Senate passed a treaty signed by a Cherokee leader representing a only small portion of the tribe and Jackson used that as a basis to forcibly remove 15,000+ Indians from their land. Almost 1/3 of them died on the trip.

So what would happen if an administration refuses to follow a court order such as the MacDonald decision. If they just ignored the law or manufactured technicalities and used them as an excuse to not follow the Court's decision.

Say, for instance a City or State had it's laws struck down and by the Court and then turned around and passed a new law saying essentially the same thing. After several years that law would be struck down, but if they continued to do that, what would be the final enforcement mechanism?
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Old July 6, 2010, 09:42 AM   #2
maestro pistolero
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The People would be the final enforcement mehanism. I think the scenario you describe would represent a fundamental breakdown in our system of government. If the the executive and legislative branch no longer has the judicial branch as third leg of the tripod, then the stool falls over. This would not be good for the future of our way of life.

If a city or state thumbs it's nose at a SCOTUS ruling, the federal government would likely enforce the ruling. It has happened before.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand_i...hoolhouse_Door
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Old July 6, 2010, 10:02 AM   #3
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If the administration breaks the law, then you go to court. If they continue on the orders of the President, that is probably impeachable.

If this thread goes to: OH, MY GOD - armed revolution - then bye bye.

Want to talk about the real legal remedies and past cases, please.
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Old July 6, 2010, 11:05 AM   #4
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Executive Fiat

Have any of the past president's EOs been vacated by the new president?.
Impeaching a sitting president would take the majority opposition House and Senate. Something I do not think will happen until 2011, but who knows?
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Old July 6, 2010, 11:08 AM   #5
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I think there's very little chance of the President doing this.... I would wonder about a city like Chicago, when the executive branch is not favorable to the decision and so will not enforce it and Chicago simply ignores the ruling or continues to make new laws that are obvious violations.
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Old July 6, 2010, 12:00 PM   #6
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IIRC, the Department of Justice would force compliance with the Court's decision. I can't recall a case of that happening, however.

Then again, I've never seen a chief executive openly castigate the Supreme Court in a public forum, which is what happened during the last State of the Union.

Given the animosity, the closest parallel I can think of is Roosevelt's clash with the Hughes Court.
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Old July 6, 2010, 12:18 PM   #7
maestro pistolero
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IIRC, the Department of Justice would force compliance with the Court's decision.
Depends on who is doing the infringing. The DOJ is the executive branch, of which the president is the boss. The wolf would be guarding the henhouse in that scenario.
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Old July 6, 2010, 02:02 PM   #8
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I would imagine that you wouldn't see such bald-faced disobedience. Instead, you'd be more likely to see the administration or Congress pass a very lightly modified law and then follow the new law (since it would require another court judgment to set it aside, it would buy them a couple years). At that point, I'm not sure if the court would issue an injuction, and if the disobedience continued, what might happen then.

I would honestly expect articles of impeachment drawn up- at some point the President would run out of political capital in Congress and they'd go ahead and start work on ousting the criminal.
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Old July 6, 2010, 04:29 PM   #9
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Depends on who is doing the infringing. The DOJ is the executive branch, of which the president is the boss.
True, but if there's malfeasance, they're obligated to act, as Jaworski did in pursuing the Nixon tapes.
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Old July 6, 2010, 07:52 PM   #10
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Alexander Hamilton once said, “the Supreme Court may truly be said to have either force nor will, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments”

To put it into perspective at this time, The executive branch refuses to prosecute those who intimidate voters at poll locations. So, do you think the current administration would go after the city of Chicago? I don't.

However, I can see his honor passing a law that allows handguns in houses in the city of Chicago, but at a cost most will not be able to afford.

There is no hope for Chicago (my opinion). Daly is too strong and will remain in office until he decides to retire or dies. IL on the other hand can and hopefully will someday elect a legislature and a governor that are at least somewhat gun friendly.
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Old July 6, 2010, 10:56 PM   #11
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This is the reason a private right of action is necessary to enforce the law of the land. The Executive Branch may not have the will to enforce certain laws but private attorneys representing plaintiffs generally only get paid when they win lawsuits and collect money. Just saw in another thread where Chicago has been sued over their latest ordinance.
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Old July 10, 2010, 07:04 PM   #12
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Cut off their federal monies and see how fast they fall in line.
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Old July 10, 2010, 07:13 PM   #13
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Cut off their federal monies and see how fast they fall in line.


Unless it is the federal government doing the ignoring. Since they control the money and the military, the (maybe real or not) quote by Andrew Jackson comes to mind, "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!"
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Old July 11, 2010, 01:13 AM   #14
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A very LONG time ago some president made a statement something to the effect "The Supreme Court has made its decision, now let them enforce it."
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Old July 11, 2010, 03:26 AM   #15
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You could essentially rephrase the question to

"What would happen if our system of government broke down?"

I think you would certainly see the legislative branch step in because allowing the executive branch to ignore the supreme court gives the executive way more power than it already has.

I would argue that a president that willfully and intentionally fails to follow a supreme court ruling or allows his administration to do it would be committing an impeachable offense. I think the congress would move to take action against a president in that situation just to return balance.

Because both sides of the political spectrum have supreme court rulings they hold dear no one wants to set a precedent that they can be ignored.
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Old July 11, 2010, 08:36 AM   #16
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This question seems especially pertinent if there is a breakdown in the checks and balances between branches of government which is more likely when one party controls the congress by overwhelming majorities as well as the executive branch.

I expect to see Chicago's new handgun law to end up back in court soon where it will be struck down by the same 5-4 margin that MacDonald had. This time it will be Kagen voting as Stevens did.

Then Chicago willpas another law with the same purpose. At that point, I hope to see the Supreme Court issue an injunction against it, but is that likely? I know one of the issues with Kagan was that she has specifically stated that she thinks overturning precedents is a good thing. That means that MacDonald and Keller may only last as precedents for a few years if Kennedy retires or dies before a gun friendly president is elected.
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Old July 11, 2010, 08:46 AM   #17
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The point above is quite valid. There is a 500 lb. gorilla in the room that could possibly occur where both the executive AND legislative branches have determined to ignore the rulings of SCOTUS, thus rendering its actions entirely moot. This is not entirely far-fetched - and what is the remedy then?
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Old July 11, 2010, 09:42 AM   #18
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I expect to see Chicago's new handgun law to end up back in court soon where it will be struck down by the same 5-4 margin that MacDonald had. This time it will be Kagen voting as Stevens did.
I'm not so sure. During oral arguments in the 7th Circuit, the Court did not show much sympathy towards Chicago's counsel.

In fact, I got the distinct impression that the only reason Easterbrook did not find for Gura's case was that he wanted the Supreme Court to settle the issue once and for all. The implication was that the 7th Circuit was sympathetic to our argument, but Easterbrook made the comment that the decision was above his pay grade.

Now that the matter is settled, Chicago's laws may not meet with much support from them.

Let's not forget that the 7th also read strict scrutiny into Heller with the Skoien case.
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Old July 11, 2010, 10:40 AM   #19
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Then Chicago willpas another law with the same purpose. At that point, I hope to see the Supreme Court issue an injunction against it, but is that likely?
Just out of curiousity, what would happen if SCOTUS did issue an injunction? Who would enforce it? Does it fall to federal law enforcement? What happens if Eric Holder decides not to do anything or orders nothing be done?
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Old July 11, 2010, 10:58 AM   #20
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I suppose the President orders him to enforce it. If he doesn't, he gets fired or has to resign.

If the president doesn't follow a legit court mandate, then the House would have to impeach and Senate convict. VP takes over.

This is getting a touch political and does appeal to choir fears but I don't think in today's contested political world we will see this kind of end of the world scenarios.

Brown v. Topeka was ultimately enforced by Federal troops. So you can expect a drive to the gun store in a Bradley to buy a pistol while Chicago law tries to stop you?
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Old July 11, 2010, 11:08 AM   #21
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It's my read on Chicago's new law that it my make it to the 7th. It will be struck down. Chicago will appeal for a hearing en blank and not get it. They will appeal to SC and be denied cert.
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Old July 11, 2010, 11:48 AM   #22
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It depends on the Supreme Court Ruling. If we're talking specifically about McDonald, there really isn't all that much that the president could do to stop it.

For example, suppose Chicago chooses to ignore the courts and keep its handgun ban on the books. Even though the law is there, it would be unenforceable. If someone were arrested for violation of a law that has already been found unconstitutional, it would be pretty much impossible to convict them and even if they did, the conviction would surely be overturned in the appeals process. Not only that, arrest under such a law would seemingly invite several very expensive discrimination lawsuits. Whether the executive and legislative branches like it or not, they simply cannot enforce laws which the judicial branch has found unconstitutional.
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Old July 11, 2010, 12:32 PM   #23
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rwilson452 wrote: "It's my read on Chicago's new law that it my make it to the 7th. It will be struck down. Chicago will appeal for a hearing en blank and not get it. They will appeal to SC and be denied cert."

I agree with this - seems most likely. I would look for the lower federal courts to do a lot of the defining of the parameters of the RKBA with the USSC only stepping in and granting cert when or if they find the lower courts going off the rails or there is a major split between the circuits.
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Old July 15, 2010, 02:55 PM   #24
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Conceivably, the administration would be held liable as they are still US citizens, subject to the law. If the USSC issues a judgement, it is law until it is removed by an act of congress.

Congress enacts the laws
Executives enforce the laws
Judiciary interprets the laws
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Old July 15, 2010, 03:31 PM   #25
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There is no hope for Chicago (my opinion). Daly is too strong and will remain in office until he decides to retire or dies.
Benjamin Franklin had something colorful to say about this very issue (but regarding a hypothetical future President rather than a mayor)
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