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Talking points on the Supremes

By Roger Ebert

Dear Boss:

As you know, after they discussed Roe v. Wade, Katie Couric asked Gov. Palin to discuss any other Supreme Court decisions. Put on the spot like that, of course she couldn't think of any. It was a typical "Gotcha!" question.

In the rehearsals for Thursday's debate, we'll be drilling Gov. Palin on talking points of other historic Court decisions.

1. Brown v. Board of Education (1954). "This is the coolest decision ever. The Supremes said we couldn't have racial segregation anymore in our schools. It's really sad that it took all the way until modern times for the Court to catch up with Christianity."

2. "Miranda v. Arizona" (1966). "This is one everyone knows, 'cause we see it all the time on 'Cops.' It says when our law enforcement heroes catch a guilty perpetrator they've gotta stop and read him--or her!--a piece of paper before haulin' him off to jail."

3. United States v. Nixon (1974). "It says the president can't keep his communications secret unless they would help terrorists. Dick Cheney says it doesn't apply to vice presidents, so I won't be comin' up against that. I'll use private e-mails. Since evildoers hacked my Yahoo account, I'll be gettin' a free account on Hotmail, which sounds really cool."

4. Texas v. Johnson (1984). "The Court said that no matter how offensive or disagreeable your opinions are, you have a perfect right to express them. I guess in their mind that explains Roe v. Wade."

5. Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988). "It says educators can't prevent, quote, 'school-sponsored expressive activities, so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.' In other words, they're cool with Creationist Club."

6. Bush v. Gore (2000). "The court decided that President (*cough*) won the Florida election, even though Al Gore said a lot of Jewish grandmothers made a mistake and voted for Pat Buchanan, which is silly, because we've all heard about how smart those Jewish people are. This was a decision that just plain reflected the will of God."

7. New York Times v. Sullivan (1964). "This one was about freedom of the press, and made it harder to sue the kinds of places that claimed that during my interview with Katie I couldn't think of the name of a single newspaper I read. That was another one of those what John calls 'Gotcha!' questions. For those people, I have three words: Field and Stream."

8. Gideon v. Wainwright (1963). "This one says we have to pay to hire a lawyer for a perpetrator who can't afford one. It might look to some people like all those lawyers in the court were just tryin' to make themselves more work, but I'm sure they meant well. This is why all the terrorists in Guantanamo have free lawyers."

9. Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857). "This one said that if a slave made it to free territory, he didn't have the right to freedom, but had to be returned right away to his owner. The Court just can't always be right. You can see right away that this one was overthrown by 'Brown v. the Board of Education'."

10. Marbury vs. Madison. "This one is a real landmark. It said the Supreme Court has the right to overthrow laws passed by Congress if they're unconstitutional. You can bet the court will be overthrowin' a lot of those laws after the Palin-McCain administration gets the chance to pick some of those judges."

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