A deeply divided Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, held the Second Law of Thermodynamics to be unconstitutional. In a decision released Monday the 4th of July, the first time the court has ever met on the nation’s birthday, the court ruled that the law violated the due process section of the 5th amendment. The case (ACLU v. Cal Tech) was originally heard in federal district court in San Francisco where the law was first held unconstitutional; this ruling was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Justice Kennedy writing for the majority said that it was intrinsically unfair for systems to run downhill regardless of whether or not the system was closed. The display of the law in any public building, meeting place, or place of public accommodation was enjoined. Specifically, mention of Rudolf Clausius or entropy was likewise proscribed. Congress was held not to have the power to reenact the law. Observers of the court said that the only way for the law to be reestablished was to amend the Constitution. A Gallup poll found that 47% of registered voters were against such an amendment, 10% were in favor, while the remainder had no opinion or thought that the matter should be left to the states.
Justice Scalia in a sharply worded dissent wrote that the law had been around since 1850 and there was no reason for the court to suddenly interdict it after more than a century and a half. He found no evidence that Founding Fathers originally held any opinion that would lead a court acting two centuries hence to intervene. He further wrote that the states if they chose could repeal the law, but that the federal judiciary should stay out of the elementary laws of physics.
The court refused comment on whether it would review the other two laws of thermodynamics. Most students of the court thought it unlikely that the high tribunal would review these laws as neither congress nor the Justice Department has shown little interest in the conservation of either matter or energy and has likewise never considered absolute zero.
In another 5-4 decision the court upheld the law of unintended consequences. Again Kennedy sided with the court’s liberal justices in upholding the law. Justice Thomas wrote in dissent that if unintended consequences were constitutional then intended consequences were unconstitutional. Court observers were unsure what the ruling portended. Gallup is taking a poll.