Skip to main content

See also:

Top 6 examples the Robert’s Court trends libertarian

6: No Protest Zones:
6: No Protest Zones: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The partisan press is currently focused on the string of high profile rebukes President Obama has received from the High Court, and not without reason. I am more interested in looking at the picture that emerges when we examine those cases in context. The Court has issued at least 20 decisions against the Obama administration specifically, or against government authority in general. Most of these decisions have been unanimous.

On everything from employer mandates to cellphone snooping, the Court is drawing a line around individual protections and using the First Amendment to do so. They have also shown a keen interest in reigning in alleged excesses of executive authority. With so many examples to choose from it was difficult to select just the top six.

Update: I didn't include it but I should give honorable mention to a recent case where the Obama administration had brought terrorism charges against a woman involved in a lovers' spat. She had smeared a chemical substance on the doorknob of a woman who was having an affair with her husband. The Justice Department brought chemical weapons charges against here. The Court ruled unanimously that such a broad interpretation of a statute meant for wartime enemies would give the government the power to brand anyone a terrorist.

6: No Protest Zones:
6: No Protest Zones: Win McNamee/Getty Images

6: No Protest Zones:

The Court struck down a Massachusetts law establishing a 35-foot no-protest buffer between abortion protesters and abortion clinic patients.  The unanimous ruling held that the distance improperly removed demonstrators from public sidewalks and spaces and infringed on their rights to engage on an important issue of the day.  Even the Court’s four pro-abortion justices joined the decision.

5. Recess Appointments:
5. Recess Appointments: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

5. Recess Appointments:

The Court ruled unanimously against President Obama and executive authority in general by ruling that Obama violated the Constitution’s “Advice and Consent” clause when he side stepped Congress to make a series of recess appointments even though Congress was not in recess.

4. Citizen’s United:
4. Citizen’s United: Darren McCollester/Getty Images

4. Citizen’s United:

In the now infamous case the Court held that unions, corporations, and free associations of people could not be limited in their campaign donations.  The case was based on a line of reasoning going back to at least 1976 holding that campaign contributions were akin to political speech and so should rarely be limited.

3.  Forced union dues:
3. Forced union dues: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

3. Forced union dues:

In a very narrow decision the Court ruled that home health workers in Illinois could not be forced to pay union dues if they did not want to join the union.  The Court avoided ruling on the larger question of forced unionization giving unions the power to tax by simply ruling that the people in question, who had sued to avoid being forced into the union, did not count as public employees anyway.  As such they were not bound by previous decisions in this area.

2. Hobby Lobby:
2. Hobby Lobby: Scott Olson/Getty Images

2. Hobby Lobby:

In a narrowly decided 5-4 decision the Court ruled that a private and closely held corporation could not be forced to violate the religious convictions of its owners.  The case had to do with being forced to pay for a few birth control methods to which the owners of the company objected on religious grounds.  (They still provide other methods in their company health insurance plan)

1. Cell phone snooping:
1. Cell phone snooping: Win McNamee/Getty Images

1. Cell phone snooping:

In a ruling that has been lost among the more political ones; the Court began to update and rewrite privacy rules and police powers for the 21st century.  At issue were warrantless searches of cell phones.  The justices were unanimous in saying that the availability of so much information on a cell phone does not make it immune from the same civil protections citizens have always expected.