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U.S. Supreme Court

Two Precedents Down, More to Come

Posted Jun 21, 2007 7:33 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court under the leadership of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. overruled precedent for the second time last week.

The decision, Bowles v. Russell, overruled a 45-year-old case that allowed litigants in “unique circumstances” to be excused from filing deadlines.

The two newest justices, Roberts and Samuel A. Alito Jr., were both in the majority although they had assured senators in their confirmation hearings that they respected precedent, Linda Greenhouse writes for the New York Times.

But the newly constituted court will surely overrule more cases, according to Greenhouse. Courts regularly overturn precedent.

The real questions, she writes, are which and how many precedents will fall, and by what standard.

Possible candidates are a 2003 ruling upholding advertising restrictions in political campaigns, a 1968 decision allowing taxpayers to file federal suits challenging government policies for violating the establishment clause, and a 1911 antitrust price-fixing decision.

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