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Supreme Court rules against shackling defendants

[JURIST] In a 7-2 decision the US Supreme Court [official website] ruled Monday that it is unconstitutional to force capital murder defendants to appear before juries in shackles. The majority said that viewing a prisoner in shackles would be too damaging to the jury's perception of the defendant. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas claimed in dissent that the risk to court personnel was greater than the benefits to defendants of not appearing in chains. Read the Court's opinion [PDF text] in Deck v. Missouri [backgrounder from Duke Law School's Program in Public Law]. AP has more.

Also Monday, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by a Mexican citizen on death row in Texas that he and others like him should have their sentences overturned because they were improperly denied legal assistance from their consulates. The court acknowledged a last-minute move by President Bush ordering state courts to revisit the issue. Read the Court's opinion [PDF text] in Medellin v. Dretke [Duke Law backgrounder]. AP has more.

In Lingle v. Chevron USA [Duke Law backgrounder], the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Hawaii did not overstep its authority when it imposed caps on the rent paid by dealer-run gas stations in an effort to keep gas prices stable. Read the Court's opinion [PDF text]. AP has more.

In Johanns v. Livestock Marketing Association [Duke Law backgrounder], the Court also ruled that the government had a right to force beef producers to pay for a multi-million dollar marketing campaign even though some individual cattle farmers disagreed with the program. Read the Court's opinion [PDF text]. AP has more.

Finally, in Clingman v. Beaver [Duke Law backgrounder], the Court ruled that a state may prevent political parties from inviting voters from other political parties to participate in its primary. Read the Court's opinion [PDF text].

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