The U.S. Supreme Court issued an orders list today adding 10 new cases for its 2008-09 term, but it did not grant review of any of the dozen or so education cases that were on its agenda.
The court typically meets in the week before the formal opening of its new term, which is next Monday, Oct. 6, to review the hundreds of appeals that have piled up over the summer. Among the school issues arising in those cases are student free speech, the burden of proof in special education proceedings, parents’ objections to school lessons on gay tolerance, and teachers’ access to school mailboxes for communicating with other teachers.
Let me stress that the justices did not deny review in any of these education cases today. The early “grant” list from the last week of September typically only announces cases the court is adding to its docket. A big orders list will come out on Monday, and most of the appeals that were not granted today will probably be denied review.
One other piece of business the court took care of today involved its decision last June striking down the death penalty in cases of child rape. I blogged then about how the ruling in Kennedy v. Louisiana implicated some issues relating to the child sex abuse scandals involving schools and churches.
After the decision came down, the court was made aware that it had not addressed the fact that the military justice system permitted the death penalty for the crime of child rape, which some argued undercut the majority’s claim that there was a national consensus against such a penalty.
This week, the justices considered these arguments in their private conference, and the result was a modification to their original opinion in Kennedy, but a rejection of a request to reopen the case. The court announces its disposition, and has a statement from the original five justices in the majority in the case here. Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., issues this statement on the denial of the request for rehearing. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. would have granted rehearing.
A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.