- The Washington Times - Monday, June 25, 2001

Supreme Court justices likely will leave for summer vacation this week after deciding their 10 remaining cases, but they long ago handed down the decisions for which history will mark this term.
George W. Bush captured Floridas crucial electoral votes, and the presidency, in a split decision at 10 oclock one frosty December night. A 5-4 majority ruled police may handcuff and jail citizens for offenses punishable by small fines. Professional golfers with a disability are allowed to ride while opponents walk. And Justice Antonin Scalia, whose vote usually is a benchmark for conservatives, wrote opinions on crime that allied him with liberal justices whose camps he rarely visits.
"I think it was one of those years that we get reminded that the court decides individual cases, and the justices may have track records but they dont have agendas," said Jerrold J. Ganzfried, a Washington specialist in antitrust law who has argued 15 cases before the high court.
"The court has been very entertaining this term. The lineups of justices were very different in two of them," said Bruce Rogow, a specialist in constitutional law who teaches at Nova Southeastern University Law School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"What surprised me is that Bush versus Gore didnt disrupt the rest of the courts business. They got opinions done on time and decided big, important cases earlier, making it clear to the country that this wasnt throwing them as an institution, that it wasnt giving them fits," said D.C. lawyer Thomas Goldstein, a member of the Gore legal team now reconciled to the loss in the courts, if not at the polls.
"I feel very relieved that it looks like Bush would have won the recount because it would have been a terrible thing for the country and the court if they had installed the wrong president," Mr. Goldstein said.
The closest thing to a common denominator throughout the 2000-01 term was the courts inquiry into police tactics governed by the Fourth Amendment provision assuring "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures."
Three decisions restricted police power to search for illegal narcotics without a warrant.
By 6-3 decisions, the court barred use of dogs to sniff cars at roadblocks and forbade hospitals to give police the results of warrantless drug tests.
A narrower 5-4 decision, written by Justice Scalia — joined by David H. Souter, Clarence Thomas, Stephen G. Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg — ruled out high-tech thermal-imaging to detect indoor marijuana farms in a ringing denunciation of government claims that the machine did not pry into private areas.
"In the sanctity of the home, all details are intimate details. … The entire area is held safe from prying government eyes," Justice Scalia wrote.
Two other opinions offered law enforcement leeway.
An 8-1 ruling recognized police authority to seal a home temporarily so the resident wont destroy evidence while a search warrant is prepared, and a bitterly contested 5-4 decision approved the handcuffing and arrest of a Texas soccer mom for leaving seat belts unfastened.
Perhaps the terms oddest criminal decision abandoned the courts 1994 doctrine that a state supreme court cannot do what the Constitution forbids its legislature from doing.
The justices upheld the murder conviction of Wilbert K. Rogers after Tennessees Supreme Court retroactively abandoned its rule that "no defendant could be convicted of murder unless his victim had died by the defendants act within a year and a day." The friend he stabbed lived 15 months.
Justice Scalia wrote a dissent from the Rogers decision, co-signed by liberal Justice John Paul Stevens.
In religion cases, the court permitted the Good News Club to use public school facilities in New York for prayer meetings but refused to intervene so that Elkhart, Ind., could keep the Ten Commandments on a monument outside City Hall.
The marquee case for this term, however, always will be Bush v. Gore, two cases heard a week apart and each decided in record time.
"The whole country, the whole world, was watching and paying attention at every step," Mr. Ganzfried said.
"They had separation-of-powers issues, federalism, constitutional issues, and you had very prominent high-profile parties in a prominent high-profile case."

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