Tomorrow, is the 60th Anniversary
of the Supreme Court's decision
(pdf) in Brown v. Board of Education [more inside]
The Oracle vs. Google decision has been reversed
. [more inside]
In England coats of arms and other issues of heraldry are registered and administered by the College of Arms
. But what if some base scoundrel displays your family's ancient and noble coat of arms without the right to do so? You sue them in the Court of Chivalry
. [more inside]
Today, the Supreme Court issued its 5-4 opinion in McCutcheon v FEC.
The Government has a strong interest, no less critical to our democratic system, in combatting corruption and its appearance. We have, however, held that this interest must be limited to a specific kind of corruption—quid pro quo corruption—in order to ensure that the Government's efforts do not have the effect of restricting the First Amendment right of citizens to choose who shall govern them. For the reasons set forth, we conclude that the aggregate limits on contributions do not further the only governmental interest this Court accepted as legitimate in Buckley. They instead intrude without justification on a citizen’s ability to exercise “the most fundamental First Amendment activities.” Buckley, 424 U. S., at 14.
The judgment of the District Court is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings.
It is so ordered.
The Supreme Court strikes down provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 ("BCRA") as an unjustified intrusion on First Amendment rights. The link also includes the concurrence of Justice Thomas and a dissent by Justice Breyer. [more inside]
Supreme Court of Canada kicks out one of its own. "The Supreme Court has dealt a stunning blow to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, ruling that his latest appointee to that court, Justice Marc Nadon of Quebec, is not legally qualified for the job."
"Our nation's uneven but dogged journey toward truer and more meaningful freedoms for our citizens has brought us continually to a deeper understanding of the first three words in our Constitution: we the people. "We the People" have become a broader, more diverse family than once imagined."
In the case of Bostic v. Rainey
, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia's Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen has declared Virginia's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional [more inside]
Today, the Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded
the case of Smithkline Beecham Corporation v. Abbott Laboratories
, holding that lawyers cannot exclude a potential juror from service solely based on their sexual orientation, because sexual orientation
is subject to heightened scrutiny
under the Equal Protection Clause.
Life Times Six: How Travion Blount got 118 years and six life sentences for a robbery.
In 2006, 15 year old Travion Blount, along with two 18 year olds, robbed a group of teenagers at a party at gunpoint. No shots were fired. The two older boys accepted sentences of 10 and 13 years in exchange for a guilty plea. Blount plead guilty but refused to accept a sentence of 18 years. He went to trial, was found guilty, and received a mandatory 118 years in prison, without parole. On top of that, he received six life sentences. His only chance to exit prison alive is through geriatric release at age 60. He will most likely die behind bars. [more inside]
A LIVING DEATH
: Sentenced to die behind bars for what?
For 3,278 people, it was nonviolent offenses like stealing a $159 jacket or serving as a middleman in the sale of $10 of marijuana. An estimated 65% of them are Black. Many of them were struggling with mental illness, drug dependency or financial desperation when they committed their crimes. None of them will ever come home to their parents and children. And taxpayers are spending billions to keep them behind bars.
A LIVING DEATH: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses
The Superior Court of New Jersey's Appellate Division ruled
on August 27 that if, as you text someone, you have special reason to know that the intended recipient is driving and is likely to read the text message while driving, you as the texter have a duty to users of the public roads to refrain from sending the driver a text at that time. [more inside]
In Conversation: Antonin Scalia "On the eve of a new Supreme Court session, the firebrand justice discusses gay rights and media echo chambers, Seinfeld and the Devil, and how much he cares about his intellectual legacy ("I don’t")." [more inside]
Canadian self-described "Freemen" in Alberta
have recently attracted a great deal of public attention to themselves. The justice system generally takes a very dim view of their shenanigans
, as laid out in one of the most comprehensively researched and bizarre judgment issued in recent memory. Here's a general overview and debunking of the arguments they use
. [more inside]
On Tuesday, a court in India convicted four
men of "rape, unnatural sex, murder, conspiracy and destruction of evidence" after they brutally gang-raped a woman on a bus in Delhi last December. The woman died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital. When news broke, it sparked protests (previously)
and raised awareness worldwide about the plight of many women in India. Now that the verdict is in, the Guardian analyzes the incident to see how "the nation's surge to superpower status has left millions behind struggling on the margins." (Links in this post contain descriptions of rape and assault which some may find disturbing.) [more inside]
Sly Stone's history of drug addiction and eccentricity is well known. But, a recent California Court of Appeals ruling details how a series of ill advised business deals left Stone destitute. [more inside]
One year ago, America was gripped with controversy over the Florida shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, who claimed he was shooting in self-defense under the "Stand Your Ground" statute, while many believe the shooting, subsequent police inaction, and even the court actions had racial undertones
- given Martin was black and Zimmerman Hispanic. Now, furor somewhat quieter, the trial is beginning, with startling (and occasionally hilarious) presentations and demands from each side, including cellphone photos and texts from Martin's phone
showing drugs and someone holding a gun, which the defense claims the prosecutors withheld
, a list of words
Zimmerman's attorneys want not to be used during the trial, which include any mention of racial profiling, and a (rejected) request that all 500 potential jurors be sequestered until their selection. [more inside]
Full opinion (dissent at page 33):
In what is arguably the most important criminal procedure case the Supreme Court has decided in decades, the Court today announced its 5-4 holding in Maryland v. King.
The majority opinion, authored by Justice Kennedy, held that the 4th Amendment allows states to collect and analyze DNA from people arrested (but not convicted) of serious crimes.
Everyone around the watercooler is talking about supreme court justices. You want to join in, but you just don't have the time to research them! Don't fret! dalmatianparade's Quick Guide to the Supreme Court Justices
is here to help!
9 years and 364 days ago, the then MEP (and later cabinet minister), Chris Huhne caught a flight back from Brussels to London Stansted, landing at 10.27pm. He picked up his car, with the distinctive number plate H11HNE, and sped back to his home in Clapham, South London, setting in motion a chain of events that would ultimately see him and his wife, economist Vicky Pryce, each sentenced to 8 months in jail. [more inside]
"Better known as the “Jane Roe” in the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade
, Norma McCorvey
has led a conflicted life. Forty years ago, she was at the center of the court decision that famously legalized abortion. Today, she is a zealous anti-abortion advocate
." Why did McCorvey turn against the cause she once championed? Tracing the life of an Accidental Activist
"Escape From Tomorrow
" is playing
at the Sundance 2013 Film Festival
. The black and white movie describes one family man's mental disintegration over a day at Disney's Orlando park. Randy Moore directed the film on-site without the knowledge of Disney. Reviews are generally good
, with comparisons to The Truman Show and Eraserhead, though people who have seen it wonder how this will play out legally
. [more inside]
In Sentencing Criminals, Is Norway Too Soft? Or Are We Too Harsh?
It’s not very often the concept of restorative justice gets much play outside scholarly publications or reformist criminal justice circles, so first, some credit for Max Fisher at The Atlantic for giving it an earnest look last week. In seeking to explain Norway’s seemingly measly twenty-one-year sentence for remorseless, mass-murdering white supremacist Anders Breivik—a sentence that is certain to be extended to last the rest of his life—Fisher casts a critical eye on the underlying philosophy that animates that country’s sentencing practices, finding it to be “radically different” from what we’re used to in the United States.
The Effectiveness of Restorative Justice Practices: A Meta-Analysis [more inside]
The Ohio Supreme Court has announced it will hear the appeal of John Freshwater
, a Mt. Vernon eighth grade science teacher terminated after being accused of preaching Christian beliefs in class when discussing topics such as evolution and homosexuality. He was also accused of burning the image of a cross on students' arms. [more inside]
The British Columbia Supreme Court has struck down a ban
on physician-assisted suicide, in a whopping 1415-paragraph decision
. [more inside]
How John Roberts Orchestrated the Citizens United decision. [more inside]
The Supreme Court of the United States has held only one criminal trial in its history: United States v. Shipp
. [more inside]
Zaire Paige had a breakout role in Antoine Fuqua's movie, Brooklyn's Finest. He was seen as a rising star. But, it all went away when he murdered a gang rival and was sentenced to 107 years in prison. [more inside]
If I Die Young: Struggling with Addiction and Recovery.
"Last year, 249 people died of prescription drug overdoses in Pinellas County, FL. Just about everybody who knew Stacy Nicholson figured she was next. Then an empathetic judge gave her a choice: recovery, or the coffin." [more inside]
This past August a murder charge was dismissed against Nga Truong, a young mother who had confessed to Worcester, MA Police interrogators in 2008 that she had smothered and killed her 13 month-old baby, Khyle. A judge later concluded that confession was coerced -- extracted in part by police "deception," "trickery and implied promises" -- and the case was dropped. (pdf)
. Her case raises questions: What coercive power do detectives have who are driven to extract confessions? Under what circumstances might someone admit to a crime they have not committed? WBUR
(Boston's NPR station) investigated Truong's case and has an extensive report, Anatomy of a Bad Confession: Part One
and Two [more inside]
Tomato: fruit or vegetable? In 1893, the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Nix v. Hedden that the tomato is legally a vegetable and not a fruit
, botanical definitions be damned. In 2001, the European Union disagreed
, saying that "tomatoes, the edible parts of rhubarb stalks, carrots, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, melons and water-melons are considered to be fruit". [more inside]
Yesterday, the Supreme court granted certiorari
to several of the challenges to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Here
's a great roundup of several news stories. I like the NPR
story for a quick summary of the issues. The Court will hear a total of 5.5 hours of oral argument, and a decision is expected by the end of the current term, in June.
Several commentators are advocating
of the practice of law.
"When legal teams need to prove or disprove the authorship of key texts, they call in the forensic linguists. Scholars in the field have tackled the disputed origins of some prestigious works, from Shakespearean sonnets to the Federalist Papers."
Decoding Your E-Mail Personality
Ben Zimmer, of Language Log discusses the Facebook case and forensic linguistics
in the NY Times. [more inside]
In 2002 a Mrs. Soile Tuulikki Lautsi, a Finnish/Italian woman and member of the Italian Union of Atheists, Agnostics and Rationalists objected to the crucifixes on the wall
of her child’s public school. [more inside]
Two weeks ago, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted 4-3 [video]
the controversial anti-union Budget Repair Bill
, which a district judge had declared void due to a law requiring 24 hours' public notice of meetings. The Supreme Court's deliberations were heated. The liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley now says that after she asked conservative Justice David Prosser to leave her office, he put his hands around her neck
in a choke-hold
. Justice Prosser denies the allegation. [more inside]
In December 2010, a Koch Industries press release spoof
(Scribd; alt: screencap
) was posted on a website that mimicked the appearance of the official site for Koch Industries. The press release stated that Koch would no longer support research and advocacy initiatives that denied or questioned the human role in climate change. The press release was quickly identified as a hoax
, and both the fake press release and site disappeared quickly, yet the Koch company pursued the identities of those behind the stunt
, going as far as to file a lawsuit to expose the anonymous pranksters as part of a larger lawsuit. This past Monday, the lawsuit was thrown out of court
in Utah, with the judge citing that parody is not commercial speech, and thus a First Amendment issue. [more inside]
Fruit of the poisonous tree
is a legal term used to describe illegally gained evidence. The logic of the terminology is that if the source of the evidence is tainted, then anything gained from it is as well.
For the uninitiated, such terms used as described make for odd introductions to supreme court arguments (PDF warning) [more inside]
What is a photocopier?
Ten pages of Ohio Supreme Court testimony where a Cuyahoga County, Ohio, office worker deliberately tries to muddy the waters in a deposition. Hilarity ensues. "If you don't know what that means in an office setting, please tell the court you don't know what it means in an office setting to have a photocopying machine."
Scott Horton at Harpers.org writes about Julian P. Heicklen
, a 78-year-old retired chemistry professor from New Jersey, now faces federal criminal charges for informing people entering the federal courthouse about the doctrine of jury nullification
. Scott Horton's post is a response to the New York Times column on Mr. Heicklen
. [more inside]
Tommy Douglas: Greatest Canadian. Famous as a Saskatchewan NDP leader, and for creating Canadian medicare.
In an affidavit filed in Federal Court, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service argued
that full disclosure of the file on Douglas could endanger the lives of confidential informants and jeopardize the agency’s ability to conduct secret surveillance. [more inside]
A longitudinal study to be published in Jan 2011's Pediatrics (abstract
, PDF of article
) shows that GLBT youth are about 40 percent more likely to be punished by schools, police, and courts than their straight peers. [more inside]