Will SCOTUS Review CA Pot Case?

by TChris

For all its flaws, the Rehnquist Court has recognized that federal legislators unnecessarily meddle in areas that should be left to state regulation, resulting in the federalization of crimes that are largely of state or local concern. It will have another chance to consider the limits of federal power when it responds to John Ashcroft's invitation to review the Ninth Circuit's ruling blocking DEA agents from arresting California patients who have been using marijuana under the advice of a physician -- an activity that is legal under California (but not federal) law.

The Ninth Circuit held that growing or possessing pot for personal use is different from interstate trafficking, which Congress can regulate pursuant to the Commerce Clause. Ashcroft doesn't care if there's an interstate commerce connection when it comes to drugs, but Ashcroft has never been a friend of the Constitution.

The Rehnquist court has frequently taken cases from the Ninth Circuit just to reverse them, but this time, the Ninth Circuit is following logic that is consistent with Rehnquist's narrow view of the Commerce Clause. We should know soon what the Court will do.

The appeal came before the justices Thursday in their last regularly scheduled conference of this term, and they are likely to decide Monday whether to review the case.... If the court turns away Ashcroft's appeal, it would leave untouched the 9th Circuit's ruling that protects a patient's right to use home-grown marijuana.

Update: The Supremes voted to review the case.

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