Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal
The Supreme Court heard arguments today in the case of a New Mexican religious sect that wants to be allowed to drink a hallucinogenic tea at ceremonies twice a month.
The justices were critical of the Bush administration’s position that drug laws forbidding such use trumps the right of the sect to practice its religion. John Roberts and Sandra Day O’Connor seemed particularly harsh on the Government. Nancy Hollander of Albuquerque argued for the sect.
A small religious band of about 140 adherents, locked in a high-stakes legal battle with federal drug enforcers, appeared on Tuesday to be nearing at least a partial victory in the Supreme Court. The government‰s no-exception, zero-tolerance approach to the religious use of a hallucinogen ran into considerable skepticism among the Justices. Only one, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, seemed ready to go most of the way to support the government side.
As far as I’m aware, this is one of the two most important drug war-related cases of this term (the other being Gonzales v. Oregon).
Now this one also has freedom of religion issues, so it isn’t strictly drug war, but it does relate to how absolute the power of the federal government is in the area of drug control. Any chinks in their armor would be a good sign.
Will it be a 4-4 tie? Make your predictions here.
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