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Media Advisory: July 15, 2002

For Immediate Release
Nicholas Provenzo
: (703) 625-3296

CAC Report Says Supreme Court Protects Individual Rights Only Half the Time

ALEXANDRIA, VA—Today CAC released its first “Year in Review” report on the Supreme Court of the United States. According to the report, the Court voted in defense of individual rights only 55% of the time. The report includes highlights of the recently completed term, summaries of decisions relevant to individual economic freedom, and a preview of important cases that will be decided during the Court’s 2002-2003 Term.

CAC selected 29 of the Court’s opinions from this Term as being the most relevant to individualism and freedom and rated the justices of the Supreme Court based on their support of individual rights in these cases. The report explains CAC’s position on the 29 cases, and indicates how the justices voted and why.

Based on CAC's analysis, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas was ranked as the Court’s greatest supporter of individual freedom, taking this position in 75% of the selected cases. At the other end of the spectrum, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer supported individual rights just 35% of the time.

But as CAC's report indicates, Justice Thomas was by no means a consistent vote for individual rights. During the Term he authored two majority opinions which significantly expanded government interference with personal autonomy. In one case Thomas defended the government’s "right" to randomly drug test public school students without having to show cause or suspicion; in a second case, he declared that "community standards"—-as vaguely defined by Congress—-should decide whether or not material on the World Wide Web should be declared illegal as obscenity.

On a more positive note, the Court did expand protection for businesses against government attempts to restrict their right to engage in free speech, as well as limit the scope of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), giving employers some reprieve from federal mandates which have greatly restricted their ability to hire and fire employees based on qualifications.

CAC also selected a best and worst decision of the Term, awarding the latter prize to Tahoe Preservation Council v. Tahoe Regional Planning, a case where the Court ruled a six-year “temporary moratorium” which prevented landowners from enjoying any economic benefit from their land was not a “taking” requiring government compensation under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

A full copy of CAC’s "Year in Review" report is available at the Center’s Web site:


The mission of The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism is to present to the public a moral defense of individualism and economic freedom. The Center undertakes projects and activities designed to communicate its message to the public, the press, and policy leaders, targeting issues central to the advancement of laissez-faire capitalism.

Copyright © 2002 The Center for the Advancement of Capitalism
PO Box 16325
Alexandria, VA 22302-8325, USA
Voice: (703) 625-3296 · Fax: (703) 997-1433

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