Black Robes Speak!: June 2010
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Monday, June 28, 2010

BREAKING News: U. S. Supreme Court CORRECTLY Finds That The Peoples Right To Bear Arms APPLIES To, And CONSTRAINS, States. I Love It!

, No. 08–1521. Argued March 2, 2010—Decided June 28, 2010. Below is a synopsis of the case from the Supreme Court (you can read the case by clicking here):

Two years ago, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. ___, this Court held that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense and struck down a District of Columbia law that banned the possession of handguns in the home. Chicago (hereinafter City) and the village of Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, have laws effectively banning handgun possession by almost all private citizens. After Heller, petitioners filed this federal suit against the City, which was consolidated with two related actions, alleging that the City’s handgun ban has left them vulnerable to criminals. They sought a declaration that the ban and several re-lated City ordinances violate the Second and Fourteenth Amend-ments. Rejecting petitioners’ argument that the ordinances are un-constitutional, the court noted that the Seventh Circuit previously had upheld the constitutionality of a handgun ban, that Heller had explicitly refrained from opining on whether the Second Amendment applied to the States, and that the court had a duty to follow established Circuit precedent. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, relying on three 19th-century cases—United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, and Miller v. Texas, 153 U. S. 535— which were decided in the wake of this Court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause in the Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36.
Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded.
567 F. 3d 856, reversed and remanded. JUSTICE ALITO delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II–A, II–B, II–D, III–A, and III–B, concluding that the Four-
teenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment right, recognized in Heller, to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense. Pp. 5–9, 11–19, 19–33.
Petitioners base their case on two submissions. Primarily, they argue that the right to keep and bear arms is protected by the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and that the Slaughter-House Cases’ narrow interpretation of the Clause should now be rejected. As a secondary argument, they contend that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause incorporates the Second Amendment right. Chicago and Oak Park (municipal respondents) maintain that a right set out in the Bill of Rights applies to the States only when it is an indispensable attribute of any “ ‘civilized’ ” legal system. If it is possible to imagine a civilized country that does not recognize the right, municipal respondents assert, that right is not protected by due process. And since there are civilized countries that ban or strictly regulate the private possession of hand-guns, they maintain that due process does not preclude such meas-ures. Pp. 4–5.
The Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment, originally applied only to the Federal Government, not to the States, see, e.g., Barron ex rel. Tiernan v. Mayor of Baltimore, 7 Pet. 243, 247, but the constitutional Amendments adopted in the Civil War’s aftermath fundamentally altered the federal system. Four years after the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, this Court held in the Slaughter-House Cases, that the Privileges or Immunities Clause protects only those rights “which owe their existence to the Federal government, its National character, its Constitution, or its laws,” 16 Wall., at 79, and that the fundamental rights predating the creation of the Federal Government were not protected by the Clause, id., at 76. Under this narrow reading, the Court held that the Privileges or Immunities Clause protects only very limited rights. Id., at 79–80. Subsequently, the Court held that the Second Amendment applies only to the Federal Government in Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, Presser, 116
S. 252, and Miller, 153 U. S. 535, the decisions on which the Seventh Circuit relied in this case. Pp. 5–9.
Whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applies to the States is considered in light of the Court’s precedents applying the Bill of Rights’ protections to the States. Pp. 11–19.
In the late 19th century, the Court began to hold that the Due Process Clause prohibits the States from infringing Bill of Rights protections. See, e.g., Hurtado v. California, 110 U. S. 516. Five features of the approach taken during the ensuing era are noted. First, the Court viewed the due process question as entirely separate from the question whether a right was a privilege or immunity of national
Cite as: 561 U. S. ____ (2010) 3
citizenship. See Twining v. New Jersey, 211 U. S. 78, 99. Second, the Court explained that the only rights due process protected against state infringement were those “of such a nature that they are in-cluded in the conception of due process of law.” Ibid. Third, some cases during this era “can be seen as having asked . . . if a civilized system could be imagined that would not accord the particular protection” asserted therein. Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U. S. 145, 149,
14. Fourth, the Court did not hesitate to hold that a Bill of Rights guarantee failed to meet the test for Due Process Clause protection, finding, e.g., that freedom of speech and press qualified, Gitlow v. New York, 268 U. S. 652, 666; Near v. Minnesota ex rel. Olson, 283
S. 697, but the grand jury indictment requirement did not, Hurtado, supra. Finally, even when such a right was held to fall within the conception of due process, the protection or remedies afforded against state infringement sometimes differed from those provided against abridgment by the Federal Government. Pp. 11–13.
Justice Black championed the alternative theory that §1 of the Fourteenth Amendment totally incorporated all of the Bill of Rights’ provisions, see, e.g., Adamson v. California, 332 U. S. 46, 71– 72 (Black, J., dissenting), but the Court never has embraced that theory. Pp. 13–15.
The Court eventually moved in the direction advocated by Justice Black, by adopting a theory of selective incorporation by which the Due Process Clause incorporates particular rights contained in the first eight Amendments. See, e.g., Gideon v. Wainright, 372 U. S. 335, 341. These decisions abandoned three of the characteristics of the earlier period. The Court clarified that the governing standard is whether a particular Bill of Rights protection is funda-mental to our Nation’s particular scheme of ordered liberty and sys-tem of justice. Duncan, supra, at 149, n. 14. The Court eventually held that almost all of the Bill of Rights’ guarantees met the requirements for protection under the Due Process Clause. The Court also held that Bill of Rights protections must “all . . . be enforced against the States under the Fourteenth Amendment according to the same standards that protect those personal rights against federal encroachment.” Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U. S. 1, 10. Under this approach, the Court overruled earlier decisions holding that particular Bill of Rights guarantees or remedies did not apply to the States.See, e.g., Gideon, supra, which overruled Betts v. Brady, 316 U. S.
455. Pp. 15–19.
The Fourteenth Amendment makes the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms fully applicable to the States. Pp. 19–33.
The Court must decide whether that right is fundamental tothe Nation’s scheme of ordered liberty, Duncan v. Louisiana, 391
U. S. 145, 149, or, as the Court has said in a related context, whether it is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition,” Washing-ton v. Glucksberg, 521 U. S. 702, 721. Heller points unmistakably to the answer. Self-defense is a basic right, recognized by many legal systems from ancient times to the present, and the Heller Court held that individual self-defense is “the central component” of the Second Amendment right. 554 U. S., at ___, ___. Explaining that “the needfor defense of self, family, and property is most acute” in the home, ibid., the Court found that this right applies to handguns because they are “the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family,” id., at ___, ___–___. It thus concluded that citizens must be permitted “to use [handguns] for the core lawful purpose of self-defense.” Id., at ___. Heller also clarifies that this right is “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradiions,” Glucksberg, supra, at 721. Heller explored the right’s origins in English law and noted the esteem with which the right was regarded during the colonial era and at the time of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. This is powerful evidence that the right was regarded as fundamental in the sense relevant here. That understand-ing persisted in the years immediately following the Bill of Rights’ ratification and is confirmed by the state constitutions of that era,which protected the right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 19–22.
A survey of the contemporaneous history also demonstrates clearly that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Framers and ratifiers counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to the Nation’s system of ordered liberty. Pp. 22–33.
By the 1850’s, the fear that the National Government would disarm the universal militia had largely faded, but the right to keep and bear arms was highly valued for self-defense. Abolitionist authors wrote in support of the right, and attempts to disarm “Free-Soilers” in “Bloody Kansas,” met with outrage that the constitutional right to keep and bear arms had been taken from the people. After the Civil War, the Southern States engaged in systematic efforts to disarm and injure African Americans, see Heller, supra, at ___. These injustices prompted the 39th Congress to pass the Freedmen’s Bureau Act of 1866 and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to protect the right to keep and bear arms. Congress, however, ultimately deemed these legislative remedies insufficient, and approved the Fourteenth Amendment. Today, it is generally accepted that that Amendment was understood to provide a constitutional basis for protecting the rights set out in the Civil Rights Act. See General Building Contractors Assn., Inc. v. Pennsylvania, 458 U. S. 375, 389. In Congressional debates on the proposed Amendment, its legislative proponents in the 39th Congress referred to the right to keep and bear arms as a fun-
Cite as: 561 U. S. ____ (2010) 5
damental right deserving of protection. Evidence from the period immediately following the Amendment’s ratification confirms that that right was considered fundamental. Pp. 22–31.
Despite all this evidence, municipal respondents argue that Members of Congress overwhelmingly viewed §1 of the Fourteenth Amendment as purely an antidiscrimination rule. But while §1 does contain an antidiscrimination rule, i.e., the Equal Protection Clause,it can hardly be said that the section does no more than prohibit dis-crimination. If what municipal respondents mean is that the Second Amendment should be singled out for special—and specially unfavorable treatment, the Court rejects the suggestion. The right to keep and bear arms must be regarded as a substantive guarantee, not a prohibition that could be ignored so long as the States legislated in an evenhanded manner. Pp. 30–33.
JUSTICE ALITO, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTICE SCALIA, and JUSTICE KENNEDY, concluded, in Parts II–C, IV, and V, that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause incorporates the Second Amendment right recognized in Heller. Pp. 10–11, 33–44.
Petitioners argue that that the Second Amendment right is oneof the “privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”There is no need to reconsider the Court’s interpretation of the Privi-leges or Immunities Clause in the Slaughter-House Cases because, for many decades, the Court has analyzed the question whether par-ticular rights are protected against state infringement under theFourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. Pp. 10–11.
Municipal respondents’ remaining arguments are rejected be-cause they are at war with Heller’s central holding. In effect, theyask the Court to hold the right to keep and bear arms as subject to adifferent body of rules for incorporation than the other Bill of Rights guarantees. Pp. 33–40.
(c) The dissents’ objections are addressed and rejected. Pp. 41–44.
JUSTICE THOMAS agreed that the Fourteenth Amendment makes the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms that was recog-nized in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. ___, fully applicable to the States. However, he asserted, there is a path to this conclusion that is more straightforward and more faithful to the Second Amendment’s text and history. The Court is correct in describing the Second Amendment right as “fundamental” to the American scheme of ordered liberty, Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U. S. 145, 149, and “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and traditions,” Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U. S. 702, 721. But the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, which speaks only to “process,” cannot imposethe type of substantive restraint on state legislation that the Court asserts. Rather, the right to keep and bear arms is enforceable
against the States because it is a privilege of American citizenship recognized by §1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which provides, inter alia: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” In interpreting this language, it is important to recall that constitutional provisions are “ ‘written to be understood by the voters.’ ” Heller, 554
U. S., at ___. The objective of this inquiry is to discern what “ordinary citizens” at the time of the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification would have understood that Amendment's Privileges or Immunities Clause to mean. Ibid. A survey of contemporary legal authorities plainly shows that, at that time, the ratifying public understood the Clause to protect constitutionally enumerated rights, including the right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 1–34.

ALITO, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II–A, II–B, II–D, III–A, and III–B, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, and THOMAS, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Parts II–C, IV, and V, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and SCALIA and KENNEDY, JJ., join. SCALIA, J., filed a concurring opinion. THOMAS, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion. BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG and SO TOMAYOR, JJ., joined.

Editor's comment: it is rather clear the dissenters, Justices Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor have NO clear understanding of the constitutional guarantees of the Second Amendment!

Also, notice, as you MUST, that in Chicago, ONLY the BAD guys and gals have ALL the guns; the law abiding citizens are the ones NOT armed to defend themselves!

Update: In another ruling issued today, the court a Christian university group cannot constitutionally bar gays from its membership in violation of school's anti discrimination statute, while group demands recognition and funding from school.

No. 08–1371
, and can be read by following this link here.

Watch the news video below:

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

U. S. Supreme Court Rules Public Can Know Who Signed Political Petitions. Read More Below.

Sign a political petition? Supreme Court says the public can know.

The case centered on a Washington State referendum on a domestic partnership law. Fear of harassment, the Supreme Court ruled, is not enough to keep petition signers anonymous.

In an 8-to-1 decision in Doe V. Reed, the high court said public disclosure of referendum petitions does not as a general matter violate the First Amendment. But the court also stressed that under certain circumstances, petition signers may be able to remain anonymous.

“Those resisting disclosure can prevail under the First Amendment if they can show a reasonable probability that the compelled disclosure [of personal information] will subject them to threats, harassment, or reprisals from either government officials or private parties,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

U. S. Supreme Court Sides With Florida In "Takings Clause" Case Brought By Beach Front Owners.

The Supreme Court rejected a property-rights claim from some disgruntled owners of beach front in Florida Thursday, upholding instead the state's authority to pump new new sand onto an eroded shore line without paying compensation.

This extra sand became a new strip of public beach. That in turn prompted a group of property owners along Florida's East Coast to sue, contending the state had taken away their rights to a private beach. What was once ocean-front property had become ocean-view property, they said, demanding compensation for their loss.

In something of surprise, all the justices ruled for the state Thursday, and concluded that under Florida law, the state owns the sand it has added to the beaches.


In December, when the case came before the court, several of its conservatives said they were inclined to protect the private property rights of the owners. In the end, however, they concluded the state law trumped these claims.

The ruling was a victory for environmentalists and state officials, and a disappointment for those who believed the Roberts Court would move quickly to strengthen property rights. But because the ruling turned on how Florida law treats beach property, it is unlikely to have a direct impact on other coastal states.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

For Those Of Us Who Practice Criminal Law In Federal Courts, Read This SCOTUS Opinion Below.

The case is DILLON v. UNITED STATES, No. 09–6338.

Read the court's synopsis below:

In 1993, petitioner Dillon was convicted of, inter alia, crack and powder cocaine offenses, which produced a base offense level of 38 and a Reductions Guidelines range of 262-to-327 months’ imprisonment. The court sentenced him at the bottom of the range for those counts. After the Sentencing Commission amended the Guidelines to reduce the base offense level associated with each quantity of crack cocaine, USSGSupp. App. C, Amdt. 706, and made that amendment retroactive, USSG Supp. App. C, Amdt. 713, Dillon moved for a sentence reduc-tion under 18 U. S. C. §3582(c)(2). That provision authorizes a district court to reduce an otherwise final sentence pursuant to a Guidelines amendment if a reduction is consistent with the Commis-sion’s policy statements. The relevant policy statement, USSG§1B1.10, precludes a court from reducing a sentence “to a term that is less than the minimum of the amended guidelines range” except inlimited circumstances. In addition to the two-level reduction author-ized by the amendment, Dillon sought a variance below the amendedGuidelines range, contending that United States v. Booker, 543 U. S. 220, authorized the exercise of such discretion. The District Court imposed a sentence at the bottom of the revised range but declined togrant a further reduction. Finding Booker inapplicable to §3582(c)(2)proceedings, the court concluded that the Commission’s directives in§1B1.10 constrained it to impose a sentence within the amendedGuidelines range. The Third Circuit affirmed.
Held: Booker’s holdings do not apply to §3582(c)(2) proceedings and therefore do not require treating §1B1.10(b) as advisory. Pp. 6–14.
(a) The statute’s text and narrow scope belie Dillon’s characteriza-tion of proceedings under §3582(c)(2) as “resentencing” proceedings governed by the same principles as other sentencing proceedings. In-
stead, §3582(c)(2) authorizes only a limited adjustment to an other-wise final sentence. This conclusion is further supported by the sub-stantial role Congress gave the Commission with respect to sentence-modification proceedings, charging it with determining whether andto what extent a Guidelines amendment will be retroactive, 28
U. S. C. §994(u), and authorizing a court to grant a reduction under§3582(c)(2) only “if [it] is consistent with applicable policy statementsissued by the Sentencing Commission.” Section 3582(c)(2) estab-lishes a two-step inquiry: A court must (1) determine the scope of thereduction, if any, authorized by §1B1.10, and then (2) consider whether the authorized reduction is warranted according to the ap-plicable §3553(a) factors. At step one, the court must follow the Commission’s instructions in §1B1.10 to impose a term of imprison-ment within the amended Guidelines range unless the sentencing court originally imposed a below-Guidelines sentence. §1B1.10(b)(2).Because reference to §3553(a) is appropriate only at step two, thatprovision does not transform §3582(c)(2) proceedings into plenary re-sentencing proceedings. Pp. 6–10.
Given §3582(c)(2)’s limited scope and purpose, proceedings un-der that section do not implicate Booker. The section represents acongressional act of lenity intended to give prisoners the benefit oflater enacted adjustments to the judgments reflected in the Guide-lines. Taking the original sentence as given, any facts found by a judge at a §3582(c)(2) proceeding do not serve to increase the pre-scribed range of punishment; instead, they affect only the judge’s ex-ercise of discretion within that range. That exercise does not contra-vene the Sixth Amendment, even if it is informed by judge-found facts. Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U. S. 466, 481. Thus, Dillon’s Sixth Amendment rights were not violated by the District Court’s adherence to §1B1.10’s instruction to consider a reduction only within the amended Guidelines range. Dillon’s argument that Booker’s re-medial opinion nonetheless requires the Guidelines to be treated asadvisory in such proceedings is unpersuasive given that proceedings under §3582(c)(2) are readily distinguishable from other sentencingproceedings. Pp. 10–13.
Also rejected is Dillon’s argument that the District Court should have corrected other mistakes in his original sentence, namely, a Booker error resulting from the initial sentencing court’s treatment of the Guidelines as mandatory and an alleged error in the calculationof his criminal-history category. Because those aspects of Dillon’ssentence were not affected by the crack-cocaine Guidelines amend-ment, they are outside the scope of the §3582(c)(2) proceeding, andthe District Court properly declined to address them. Pp. 13–14.
572 F. 3d 146, affirmed.
Cite as: 560 U. S. ____ (2010) 3

SOTOMAYOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS,
C. J., and SCALIA, KENNEDY, THOMAS, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion. ALITO, J., took no part in the decision of the case.

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For Those Of Us Who Practice Bankruptcy Law, U. S. Supreme Court Clarifies Trustees Role In Chapter 7 Cases. Read The Synopsis Below.

The case is SCHWAB v. REILLY, No. 08–538.

Read the syllabus from the court below:

Respondent Reilly filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy when her catering business failed. She supported her petition with, inter alia, Schedule B, on which debtors must list their assets, and Schedule C, on which they must list the property they wish to reclaim as exempt. Her Schedule B assets included cooking and other kitchen equipment, to which she assigned an estimated market value of $10,718. On Schedule C, she claimed two exempt interests in this “businessequipment”: a “tool[s] of the trade” exemption for the statutory-maximum “$1,850 in value,” 11 U. S. C. §522(d)(6); and $8,868 underthe statutory provisions allowing miscellaneous, or “wildcard,” ex-emptions up to $10,225 in value. The claimed exemptions’ total value($10,718) equaled Reilly’s estimate of the equipment’s market value.Property claimed as exempt will be excluded from the bankruptcy es-tate “[u]nless a party in interest” objects, §522(l), within a certain 30-day period, see Fed. Rule Bkrtcy. Proc. 4003(b). Absent an objection,the property will be excluded from the estate even if the exemption’svalue exceeds what the Code permits. See, e.g., §522(l); Taylor v. Freeland & Kronz, 503 U. S. 638, 642–643. Although an appraisal revealed that the equipment’s total marketvalue could be as much as $17,200, petitioner Schwab, the bank-ruptcy estate’s trustee, did not object to the claimed exemptions be-cause the dollar value Reilly assigned to each fell within the limits of§§522(d)(5) and (6). Schwab moved the Bankruptcy Court for per-mission to auction the equipment so Reilly could receive the $10,718 she claimed exempt and the estate could distribute the remainingvalue to her creditors. Reilly countered that by equating on ScheduleC the total value of her claimed exemptions in the equipment withthe equipment’s estimated market value, she had put Schwab and
her creditors on notice that she intended to exempt the equipment’s full value, even if it turned out to be more than the amounts she de-clared and that the Code allowed. She asserted that the estate had forfeited its claim to any portion of that value because Schwab had not objected within the Rule 4003(b) period, and that she would dis-miss her petition rather than sell her equipment.
The Bankruptcy Court denied Schwab’s motion and Reilly’s condi-tional motion to dismiss. The District Court denied Schwab relief, re-jecting his argument that neither the Code nor Rule 4003(b) requires a trustee to object to a claimed exemption where the amount thedebtor declares as the exemption’s value is within the limits the Codeprescribes. Affirming, the Third Circuit agreed that Reilly’s ScheduleC entries indicated her intent to exempt the equipment’s full value. Relying on Taylor, it held that Schwab’s failure to object entitledReilly to exempt the full value of her equipment, even though that value exceeded the amounts that Reilly declared and the Code per-mitted.
Held: Because Reilly gave “the value of [her] claimed exemption[s]” onSchedule C dollar amounts within the range the Code allows for what it defines as the “property claimed as exempt,” Schwab was not re-quired to object to the exemptions in order to preserve the estate’sright to retain any value in the equipment beyond the value of the exempt interest. Pp. 6–23.
(a) Reilly’s complicated view of the trustee’s statutory obligation, and her reading of Schedule C, does not accord with the Code. Pp. 6–
The parties agree that this case is governed by §522(l), which states that a Chapter 7 debtor must “file a list of property that thedebtor claims as exempt under subsection (b) of this section,” andthat “[u]nless a party in interest objects, the property claimed as ex-empt on such list is exempt.” Reilly asserts that the “propertyclaimed as exempt” refers to all of the information on Schedule C, in-cluding the estimated market value of each asset. Schwab and amicus United States counter that because the Code defines such property as an interest, not to exceed a certain dollar amount, in a particular asset, not as the asset itself, the value of the property claimed exempt should be judged on the dollar value the debtor as-signs the interest, not on the value the debtor assigns the asset. Pp. 6–9.
Schwab and the United States are correct. The portion of §522(l) that resolves this case is not, as Reilly asserts, the provision stating that the “property claimed as exempt on [Schedule C] is ex-empt” unless an interested party objects. Rather, it is the portion that defines the objection’s target, namely, the “list of property that
Cite as: 560 U. S. ____ (2010) 3
the debtor claims as exempt under subsection (b).” Section 522(b) does not define the “property claimed as exempt” by reference to the estimated market value. It refers only to property defined in §522(d),which in turn lists 12 categories of property that a debtor may claim as exempt. Most of these categories and all the ones applicable heredefine “property” as the debtor’s “interest”—up to a specified dollaramount—in the assets described in the category, not as the assets themselves. Schwab had no duty to object to the property Reillyclaimed as exempt because its stated value was within the limits theCode allows. Reilly’s contrary view does not withstand scrutiny be-cause it defines the target of a trustee’s objection based on Schedule C’s language and dictionary definitions of “property” at odds with theCode’s definition. The Third Circuit failed to account for the Code’s definition and for provisions that permit debtors to exempt certainproperty in kind or in full regardless of value. See, e.g., §522(d)(9).Schwab was entitled to evaluate the claimed exemptions’ propriety based on three Schedule C entries: the description of the business equipment in which Reilly claimed the exempt interests; the Codeprovisions governing the claimed exemptions; and the amounts Reillylisted in the column titled “value of claimed exemption.” This conclu-sion does not render Reilly’s market value estimate superfluous. It simply confines that estimate to its proper role: aiding the trustee inadministering the estate by helping him identify assets that mayhave value beyond the amount the debtor claims as exempt, or whose full value may not be available for exemption. This interpretation isconsistent with the historical treatment of bankruptcy exemptions.Pp. 9–15.
Taylor does not dictate a contrary conclusion. While both Tay-lor and this case concern the consequences of a trustee’s failure to ob-ject to a claimed exemption within Rule 4003’s time period, Taylor es-tablishes and applies the straightforward proposition that an interested party must object to a claimed exemption if the amountthe debtor lists as the “value claimed exempt” is not within statutorylimits. In Taylor, the value listed in Schedule C (“$ unknown”) wasnot plainly within those limits, but here, the values ($8,868 and$1,850) are within Code limits and thus do not raise the warning flagpresent in Taylor. Departing from Taylor would not only ignore thepresumption that parties act lawfully and with knowledge of the law;it would also require the Court to expand the statutory definition of “property claimed as exempt” and the universe of information an in-terested party must consider in evaluating an exemption’s validity.Even if the Code allowed such expansions, they would be ill advised.Basing the definition of “property claimed exempt,” and thus an in-terested party’s obligation to object under §522(l), on inferences that
party must draw from preprinted bankruptcy schedules that evolveover time, rather than on the facial validity of the value the debtorassigns the “property claimed as exempt” as defined by the Code, would undermine the predictability the statute is designed to pro-vide. Pp. 16–18.
Reilly’s argument threatens to convert the Code’s goal of giving debtors a fresh start into a free pass. By permitting a debtor “towithdraw from the estate certain interests in property, . . . up to cer-tain values,” Rousey v. Jacoway, 544 U. S. 320, 325, Congress bal-anced the difficult choices that exemption limits impose on debtorswith the economic harm that exemptions visit on creditors. This Court should not alter that balance by requiring trustees to object toclaimed exemptions based on form entries beyond those governing anexemption’s validity under the Code. In rejecting Reilly’s approach,the Court does not create incentives for trustees and creditors to sleep on their rights. The decision reached here encourages a debtorwishing to exempt an asset’s full market value or the asset itself to declare the value of the claimed exemption in a way that makes itsscope clear. Such declarations will encourage the trustee to objectpromptly and preserve for the estate any value in the asset beyondrelevant statutory limits. If the trustee fails to object, or his objectionis overruled, the debtor will be entitled to exclude the asset’s full value. If the objection is sustained, the debtor will be required either to forfeit the portion of the exemption exceeding the statutory allow-ance or to revise other exemptions or arrangements with creditors topermit the exemption. See Rule 1009(a). Either result will facilitate the expeditious and final disposition of assets, and thus enable thedebtor and creditors to achieve a fresh start free of Reilly’s finalityand clouded-title concerns. Pp. 19–22.
534 F. 3d 173, reversed and remanded.

THOMAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which STEVENS, SCALIA, KENNEDY, ALITO, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined. GINSBURG, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and BREYER, J., joined.

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U. S. Supreme Court Rules Unanimously: Search Of Employee's Pager Text Messages Issued By Employer Was Constitutionally Reasonable. I Say: Well, DUH!

The case, which reversed the Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals Decision, is CITY OF ONTARIO, CALIFORNIA, ET AL. v. QUON, No. 08–1332.

Below is the Court's issued summary, taken verbatim from the case:

Petitioner Ontario (hereinafter City) acquired alphanumeric pagersable to send and receive text messages. Its contract with its service provider, Arch Wireless, provided for a monthly limit on the numberof characters each pager could send or receive, and specified that us-age exceeding that number would result in an additional fee. The City issued the pagers to respondent Quon and other officers in its police department (OPD), also a petitioner here. When Quon and others exceeded their monthly character limits for several monthsrunning, petitioner Scharf, OPD’s chief, sought to determine whether the existing limit was too low, i.e., whether the officers had to payfees for sending work-related messages or, conversely, whether the overages were for personal messages. After Arch Wireless provided transcripts of Quon’s and another employee’s August and September2002 text messages, it was discovered that many of Quon’s messageswere not work related, and some were sexually explicit. Scharf re-ferred the matter to OPD’s internal affairs division. The investigat-ing officer used Quon’s work schedule to redact from his transcript any messages he sent while off duty, but the transcript showed that few of his on-duty messages related to police business. Quon was dis-ciplined for violating OPD rules. He and the other respondents—each of whom had exchanged text messages with Quon during August and September—filed this suit,alleging, inter alia, that petitioners violated their Fourth Amendment rights and the federal Stored Communications Act (SCA) by obtain-ing and reviewing the transcript of Quon’s pager messages, and thatArch Wireless violated the SCA by giving the City the transcript.The District Court denied respondents summary judgment on the
constitutional claims, relying on the plurality opinion in O’Connor v. Ortega, 480 U. S. 709, to determine that Quon had a reasonable ex-pectation of privacy in the content of his messages. Whether the au-dit was nonetheless reasonable, the court concluded, turned on whether Scharf used it for the improper purpose of determining if Quon was using his pager to waste time, or for the legitimate purposeof determining the efficacy of existing character limits to ensure thatofficers were not paying hidden work-related costs. After the juryconcluded that Scharf’s intent was legitimate, the court granted peti-tioners summary judgment on the ground they did not violate theFourth Amendment. The Ninth Circuit reversed. Although it agreedthat Quon had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his text mes-sages, the appeals court concluded that the search was not reason-able even though it was conducted on a legitimate, work-related ra-tionale. The opinion pointed to a host of means less intrusive than the audit that Scharf could have used. The court further concluded that Arch Wireless had violated the SCA by giving the City the tran-script.
Held: Because the search of Quon’s text messages was reasonable, peti-tioners did not violate respondents’ Fourth Amendment rights, andthe Ninth Circuit erred by concluding otherwise. Pp. 7–17.
(a) The Amendment guarantees a person’s privacy, dignity, and se-curity against arbitrary and invasive governmental acts, without re-gard to whether the government actor is investigating crime or per-forming another function. Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives’ Assn., 489 U. S. 602, 613–614. It applies as well when the govern-ment acts in its capacity as an employer. Treasury Employees v. Von Raab, 489 U. S. 656, 665. The Members of the O’Connor Court dis-agreed on the proper analytical framework for Fourth Amendment claims against government employers. A four-Justice plurality con-cluded that the correct analysis has two steps. First, because “some [government] offices may be so open . . . that no expectation of pri-vacy is reasonable,” a court must consider “[t]he operational realitiesof the workplace” to determine if an employee’s constitutional rights are implicated. 480 U. S., at 718. Second, where an employee has alegitimate privacy expectation, an employer’s intrusion on that ex-pectation “for noninvestigatory, work-related purposes, as well as forinvestigations of work-related misconduct, should be judged by thestandard of reasonableness under all the circumstances.” Id., at 725–
726. JUSTICE SCALIA, concurring in the judgment, would have dis-pensed with the “operational realities” inquiry and concluded “thatthe offices of government employees . . . are [generally] covered byFourth Amendment protections,” id., at 731, but he would also have held “that government searches to retrieve work-related materials or
Cite as: 560 U. S. ____ (2010) 3
to investigate violations of workplace rules—searches of the sort that are regarded as reasonable and normal in the private-employer con-text—do not violate the . . . Amendment,” id., at 732. Pp. 7–9.
Even assuming that Quon had a reasonable expectation of pri-vacy in his text messages, the search was reasonable under both O’Connor approaches, the plurality’s and JUSTICE SCALIA’s. Pp. 9–17.
The Court does not resolve the parties’ disagreement over Quon’s privacy expectation. Prudence counsels caution before the facts in this case are used to establish far-reaching premises that de-fine the existence, and extent, of privacy expectations of employees using employer-provided communication devices. Rapid changes inthe dynamics of communication and information transmission areevident not just in the technology itself but in what society accepts asproper behavior. At present, it is uncertain how workplace norms,and the law’s treatment of them, will evolve. Because it is therefore preferable to dispose of this case on narrower grounds, the Court as-sumes, arguendo, that: (1) Quon had a reasonable privacy expecta-tion; (2) petitioners’ review of the transcript constituted a FourthAmendment search; and (3) the principles applicable to a governmentemployer’s search of an employee’s physical office apply as well in the electronic sphere. Pp. 9–12.
Petitioners’ warrantless review of Quon’s pager transcript was reasonable under the O’Connor plurality’s approach because it wasmotivated by a legitimate work-related purpose, and because it wasnot excessive in scope. See 480 U. S., at 726. There were “reasonable grounds for [finding it] necessary for a noninvestigatory work-related purpose,” ibid., in that Chief Scharf had ordered the audit to deter-mine whether the City’s contractual character limit was sufficient to meet the City’s needs. It was also “reasonably related to the objec-tives of the search,” ibid., because both the City and OPD had a le-gitimate interest in ensuring that employees were not being forced to pay out of their own pockets for work-related expenses, or, on theother hand, that the City was not paying for extensive personalcommunications. Reviewing the transcripts was an efficient and ex-pedient way to determine whether either of these factors causedQuon’s overages. And the review was also not “excessively intrusive.” Ibid. Although Quon had exceeded his monthly allotment a numberof times, OPD requested transcripts for only August and September2002 in order to obtain a large enough sample to decide the character limits’ efficaciousness, and all the messages that Quon sent while off duty were redacted. And from OPD’s perspective, the fact that Quonlikely had only a limited privacy expectation lessened the risk thatthe review would intrude on highly private details of Quon’s life. Similarly, because the City had a legitimate reason for the search
and it was not excessively intrusive in light of that justification, thesearch would be “regarded as reasonable and normal in the private-employer context” and thereby satisfy the approach of JUSTICE SCALIA’s concurrence, id., at 732. Conversely, the Ninth Circuit’s“least intrusive” means approach was inconsistent with controlling precedents. See, e.g., Vernonia School Dist. 47J v. Acton, 515 U. S. 646, 663. Pp. 12–16.
Whether the other respondents can have a reasonable expecta-tion of privacy in their text messages to Quon need not be resolved. They argue that because the search was unreasonable as to Quon, it was also unreasonable as to them, but they make no corollary argu-ment that the search, if reasonable as to Quon, could nonetheless be unreasonable as to them. Given this litigating position and the Court’s conclusion that the search was reasonable as to Quon, these other respondents cannot prevail. Pp. 16–17.
529 F. 3d 892, reversed and remanded.

KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS,
C. J., and STEVENS, THOMAS, GINSBURG, BREYER, ALITO, and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined, and in which SCALIA, J., joined except for Part III–A. STE-VENS, J., filed a concurring opinion. SCALIA, J., filed an opinion concur-ring in part and concurring in the judgment.

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