November 29, 2004
Supreme Court to Hear Two Criminal Cases Today
On Monday November 29, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Ashcroft v. Raich, an appeal from Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, questioning the consitutionality of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 as applied to patients who use marijuana for medical purposes in states that have legalized such use. The complaint accuses John Ashcroft, the Justice Department, and the DEA of unconstitutionally exceeding their authority by "embarking on a campaign of seizing or forfeiting privately-grown intrastate medical cannabis from California patients and caregivers, arresting or prosecuting them, mounting paramilitary raids against them, harassing them, and taking other civil or administrative actions against them." Angel Justice and Drug War Rant offer background and interesting perspectives on the case.
The Court will also hear arguments in Howell v. Mississippi. The question presented is whether, in death penalty cases, a state court can refuse to give a jury the option of finding a defendant guilty of at least one lesser offense if it is recognized by state law and supported by evidence. More on Howell . . . [Mark Godsey]