SUMMER OF SELF-HELP: ORNERY CITIZENS THWART THE COURT
By DAHLIA LITHWICK
A Brief Guide To Civil Disobedience, Sheer Orneriness, and Other Ways To Undermine The Highest Court In the Land
As the nation finally begins to absorb and internalize the legal significance of 1999's Supreme Court "Term of the Century," it's become clear that last term's decisions have engendered more widespread national resistance than any other in history. Indeed, in this, the Summer of Self-Help, the citizenry have proven themselves more adept than ever at violating the spirit -- if not the actual law -- of the Court's most recent jurisprudence. Below, your intrepid reporter chronicles the tales of this summer's armchair Gandhis -- and lets you know where to go to get in on the mayhem.
Real World Resistance
In high schools across the South, students are fighting back against the Supreme Court's controversial ban on school-sponsored, student-led prayer before football games. Galvanized by Christian ministries and local radio show hosts, these kids are doing an end-run around the Court's prohibition on prayer before games, by offering up the Lord's Prayer "spontaneously" and in perfect unison.
Meanwhile, in Illinois and California, corporate and government entities are pushing back against the Court's ruling that permitted the Boy Scouts of America to exclude homosexuals. These groups are standing up for their convictions by withdrawing financial and other support from local scouting organizations, which may well lead to the demise of whole troops.unequivocal orders has been a sweeping national shrug accompanied by a surly "Make me." While large-scale resistance to Supreme Court decisions is by no means unprecedented in this land -- after all, school desegregation still hasn't quite happened -- this broad local insurrection bespeaks a newer, tougher activist: An activist ready and willing to give a defiant finger to the long arm of the law.
A Few Daring Souls Go Farther
While you may have heard about the praying in Texas, or the Chicago suit against the Boy Scouts, you may be unaware of some other acts of not-so-passive resistance that have followed in the wake of the controversial 1999 term:
Just Do It
You, personally, may not yet have taken it upon yourself to violate the law of the land through an act of zealotry or pique. But with a month to go before the 2000 term opens, it's worth your taking a moment to probe last term's rulings for some ruling with which you disagree. There has to be at least one.
May I suggest that you consider violating the grandparents' visitation ruling (Visit the grandkids until they beg for mercy and throw your Werther's Butterscotches right back at you!); or try withholding your student fees from liberal groups on campus ("I'll defend to the death your right to say it, but for now I am buying an extra baba ganoush"). Get out there and show that Court what you think of their rulings. They can't enforce them anyway! Remember the words of Abraham Lincoln: "to sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men."
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