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Heien vs. North Carolina

This morning, the Supreme Court released an opinion (pdf) in Heien vs. North Carolina, finding that because the Fourth Amendment requires government officials to act reasonably, not perfectly, and gives those officials “fair leeway for enforcing the law,” an officer in North Carolina did not act unconstitutionally when they stopped and searched a car driving with a broken brake light, even though North Carolina law requires only one vehicle brake light to be working. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Dec 15, 2014 - 127 comments

The map is about to meet in the middle

The Supreme Court has lifted the stay preventing same-sex marriage in Kansas; meantime, South Carolina is stayed until November 20th. [more inside]
posted by joycehealy on Nov 13, 2014 - 14 comments

Dogs reenacting U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments

If there is any justice in the world, this will revolutionize the way you consume Supreme Court news. Fed up with the Supreme Court's refusal to allow cameras at oral arguments, John Oliver has proposed an alternative to existing television coverage that relies on artists' renderings of the justices. Oliver has released more than ten minutes of raw footage of dogs dressed up like the members of the Court, and has challenged news outlets to use the footage to create less-boring recreations of oral arguments. [more inside]
posted by heisenberg on Oct 22, 2014 - 32 comments

If a process yields discrimination, then we need to examine the process.

Bias in the Box. "This is where Bryan Stevenson’s 'undeveloped understanding' comes into focus. A prosecutor may say with the utmost sincerity that he doesn’t exclude blacks [from a jury] because of their race, but because they or someone in their family has been a victim of discrimination, which leads them to distrust the system. Because of their experiences, they are believed to be less motivated to sentence someone to die and are therefore less desirable on a jury." (slVQR) [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Oct 11, 2014 - 7 comments

Haiku Decisis

Below you’ll find a haiku extracted from a random Supreme Court opinion.
posted by Confess, Fletch on Aug 22, 2014 - 52 comments

“They paid the ultimate price for standing up for the working class”

One Generation’s Time: The Legacy of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes (YouTube, 1 hour). The story of two activists who fought to improve the lives of Filipino workers in Alaskan canneries, their murders by members of a street gang, and the eight-year investigation that ultimately found Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos responsible for their deaths. [more inside]
posted by Banknote of the year on Aug 22, 2014 - 5 comments

Tsilhquot’in victory in the Supreme Court

On June 26, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of the Tsilhquot’in people in their title claim to more than 1700 square km of land in British Columbia. The case is a landmark, and was a unanimous decision, supported 8-0 by the justices. The decision, is the first time the Canadian courts have recognized full aboriginal title to a specific tract of land by, and experts in the field expect the ruling to have an impact on future title questions worldwide (from Vancouver Island to New Zealand, or, one might say, from PKOLS to Aotearoa) [more inside]
posted by chapps on Jul 8, 2014 - 37 comments

Judges Explaining Technology

"As a matter of science, traditional adoption does not provide a woman with the opportunity to be pregnant.” Reber v. Reiss, 42 A.3d 1131, 1138-39 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2012). Judges Explaining Technology.
posted by dzkalman on Jul 8, 2014 - 25 comments

End of the line for Aereo?

Internet TV/DVR start-up Aereo lost its copyright-infringement case at the Supreme Court today in a 6-3 decision, with Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito dissenting. This decision effectively reverses an earlier lower court ruling that found Aereo safely within the law. Although Aereo based its case on the 2008 Cablevision decision, which upheld the legality of cloud-based DVR systems, the majority ruling (PDF) states that "[B]ehind-the-scenes technological differences do not distinguish Aereo’s system from cable systems, which do perform publicly." This decision effectively puts Aereo out of business, given CEO Chet Kanojia's earlier statement that there was "no Plan B" if the Supreme Court ruled against the company. [more inside]
posted by Strange Interlude on Jun 25, 2014 - 151 comments

Five facts about Clarence Thomas that perhaps you didn’t know.

Clarence Thomas's Counterrevolution: "The first time Clarence Thomas went to Washington, DC, it was to protest the Vietnam War. The last time that Clarence Thomas attended a protest, as far as I can tell, it was to free Bobby Seale and Erikah Huggins." Corey Robin (previously) discusses the intellectual legacy of Justice Clarence Thomas. See also: "Clarence X? The Black Nationalist behind Clarence Thomas's Constitutionalism. [more inside]
posted by anotherpanacea on Jun 23, 2014 - 80 comments

Corporations are people too, my friends. Special, unaccountable people.

How corporations became people you can't sue.
posted by T.D. Strange on Jun 15, 2014 - 75 comments

"An argument that has the characterizing flavor of bullshit."

The entire first episode of John Oliver's new current-events comedy show on HBO, Last Week Tonight, is viewable on its official YouTube Channel. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Apr 28, 2014 - 99 comments

U.S. Supreme Court upholds Michigan's ban on affirmative action

The U.S. Supreme court has decided to uphold Michigan's ban on affirmative action. Here is a a brief summery of the history behind the case. The court has made their opinions available here. Also, how states with affirmative action bans have fared.
posted by Shouraku on Apr 23, 2014 - 237 comments

Supreme Court of India recognizes transgenders as 'third gender'

The Supreme Court of India directed the Indian Government to include a new gender category to include people who don't identify as the traditional male or female. My head spins as I write this. A combination of being woken up suddenly from heavy sleep and a sudden jerk of pleasant shock has left my head spinning. I am humming some sweet songs in celebration! Hurray!
Supreme Court ruling grants transgender recognition and OBC status* in India. [more inside]
posted by infini on Apr 15, 2014 - 19 comments

Supreme Court Deals Massive Blow To Rails-to-Trails Programs

Rails-to-Trails Essentially Told To Take A Hike
"For all I know, there is some right of way that goes through people's houses, you know," Justice Stephen Breyer said, "and all of a sudden, they are going to be living in their house and suddenly a bicycle will run through it."
The Supreme Court struck a decisive (8-1) blow against rails-to-trails programs today with its ruling on Marvin Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States. [more inside]
posted by entropicamericana on Mar 10, 2014 - 95 comments

A Trail of Broken Glass

Stephen Glass was a well-known journalist at The New Republic who was exposed for multiple instances of fabricating stories and lying to cover up the details (previously here and here), as well as burning a few bridges in his attempt to explain his actions. A movie was made about this, and he wrote a book. Since Glass’s fall, he has gone to law school and has been practicing as a paralegal at a Los Angeles law firm with the hopes of becoming a lawyer. He has passed the bar exams in New York and California. However, there is a required ethics review in both states before one is allowed to practice. He was already denied (informally) a license in New York, and a final decision in California was appealed to the California Supreme court, who ruled last month conclusively that Glass would not be allowed to practice law in California. Here is the 33-page ruling. [more inside]
posted by SpacemanStix on Mar 5, 2014 - 68 comments

Satire Amicus

"After all, where would we be without the knowledge that Democrats are pinko-communist flag-burners who want to tax churches and use the money to fund abortions so they can use the fetal stem cells to create pot-smoking lesbian ATF agents who will steal all the guns and invite the UN to take over America? Voters have to decide whether we’d be better off electing Republicans, those hateful, assault-weapon-wielding maniacs who believe that George Washington and Jesus Christ incorporated the nation after a Gettysburg reenactment and that the only thing wrong with the death penalty is that it isn’t administered quickly enough to secular humanist professors of Chicano studies."
The Cato Institute's unique amicus brief to the Supreme Court in the Dreihaus political speech case is a defense of "truthiness", mocking and satire which it contends "are as old as America, and if this Court doesn’t believe amici, it can ask Thomas Jefferson, 'the son of a half-breed squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.'”
posted by dios on Mar 3, 2014 - 47 comments

SCC Strikes Down Prostitution Laws

The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down Canada's prostitution laws saying that bans on street soliciting, brothels and people living off the avails of prostitution are arbitrary and create severe dangers for vulnerable women. [more inside]
posted by modernnomad on Dec 20, 2013 - 39 comments

New Mexico Fully Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Following the state Supreme Court's decision in Griego v. Oliver [pdf], New Mexico has become the 17th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Dec 19, 2013 - 59 comments

The government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of re

Yesterday, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear two challenges to the Affordable Care Act's mandate that women's contraception must be covered. The cases, Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, ask the Court to focus on whether the pregnancy-related care coverage can be enforced against profit-making companies — or their individual owners — when the coverage contradicts privately held religious beliefs. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Nov 27, 2013 - 214 comments

25 years later, the Cabinet on abortion

The Canadian Press has released minutes from the Cabinet's discussions of abortion. The conversations began after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unconstitutional the restrictions on abortion (wiki). [more inside]
posted by Lemurrhea on Nov 18, 2013 - 21 comments

McCutcheon v. FEC

Supreme Court to consider lifting campaign contribution limits. Reversing McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission would allow unlimited individual campaign contributions.
posted by kliuless on Oct 7, 2013 - 101 comments

"I have never been custodian of my legacy."

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]
posted by zarq on Oct 6, 2013 - 89 comments

I Now Pronounce You Man and Man

Today, Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes the first Supreme Court Justice to officiate at a same sex marriage.
posted by Going To Maine on Aug 31, 2013 - 29 comments

The Supreme Court rules on a key part of the Voting Rights Act.

In a 5-4 decision, "The Supreme Court on Tuesday gutted a key part of the landmark Voting Rights Act." [more inside]
posted by MisantropicPainforest on Jun 25, 2013 - 259 comments

SCOTUS Issues Narrow Decision on Affirmative Action

The reviewing court must ultimately be satisfied that no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity. The Supreme Court issued a decision[pdf] in the affirmative action case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin today. [more inside]
posted by insectosaurus on Jun 24, 2013 - 92 comments

"If you want to claim the Fifth . . ."

In a 5-4 ruling on Salinas vs. Texas, the SCOTUS ruled that silence can be used in court. (PDF) Without being placed in custody or receiving Miranda warnings, Genovevo Salinas voluntarily answered some of a police officer’s questions about a murder, but fell silent when asked whether ballistics testing would match his shotgun to shell casings found at the scene of the crime. During his trial in Texas state court, and over his objection, the prosecution used his failure to answer the question as evidence of guilt. He was convicted, and both the State Court of Appeals andCourt of Criminal Appeals affirmed, rejecting his claim that the prosecution’s use of his silence in its case in chief violated the Fifth Amendment. Analysis on SCOTUSblog
posted by dukes909 on Jun 18, 2013 - 145 comments

Will take approx none of your sh..

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!
posted by spiderskull on Apr 8, 2013 - 48 comments

SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments in Prop 8 Case

Earlier today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the California Prop 8 case, Hollingsworth v. Perry. SCOTUSblog has a round-up of their analysis of today's arguments here. NYT article. LA Times article. [more inside]
posted by insectosaurus on Mar 26, 2013 - 398 comments

Republicans and the unlikely bedfellows of marriage equality

The national Republican Party still continues to oppose same-sex marriage, one of the factors of social conservatism that lost it the youth vote in the 2012 election and may have caused Romney's defeat. Many Republicans, however, have been arguing for a sea change to revitalize the party. They may have found it, in an unlikely appeal that "The party of Lincoln should stand with our best tradition of equality and support full civil marriage for all Americans.". A large number of prominent Republicans have signed onto an amicus brief opposing same-sex marriage bans in the Proposition 8 case currently before the Supreme Court - and some believe that the Republican support may allow the justices the political and legal support to rule for national marriage equality.
posted by corb on Feb 27, 2013 - 111 comments

Totenberg on Sotomayor on NPR

In conjunction with the publication of her autobiography, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor sat down with NPR's Nina Totenberg for an extended interview. 1: Sotomayor reflects on her upbringing, her family, and the formative years of her life. 2: Exploring her educational background and her motivations toward excellence. 3: Her post-education career and the path toward her being appointed to the Supreme Court. Audio links and transcripts available for all links. [more inside]
posted by hippybear on Jan 19, 2013 - 9 comments

Undue Burden

Jennie Linn McCormack "isn’t the only woman in recent years to be prosecuted for ending her own pregnancy. But her case could change the trajectory of abortion law in the United States": The Rise of DIY Abortions. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 3, 2013 - 66 comments

Robert Bork's America

Robert Bork, the conservative jurist at the heart of two political firestorms--in 1973 he carried out the "Saturday Night Massacre" by firing Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, and in 1987 had his nomination for the Supreme Court rejected by the Senate after a combative confirmation hearing--died yesterday. A perennially divisive figure, Bork's passing drew encomiums from the right and condemnation from the left.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Dec 20, 2012 - 88 comments

"Used to be that the idea was 'once every two years voters elected their representatives.' And now instead it's 'every ten years the representatives choose their constituents.'"

Obama won Ohio by two points, and Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown won by five, but Democrats emerged with just four of Ohio’s 16 House seats. In Wisconsin, Obama prevailed by seven points, and Democratic Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin by five, but their party finished with just three of the state’s eight House seats. In Virginia, Obama and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine were clear victors, but Democrats won just three of the commonwealth’s 11 House seats. In Florida, Obama eked out a victory and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson won by 13 points, but Democrats will hold only 10 of the Sunshine State’s 27 House seats. The Revenge of 2010: How gerrymandering saved the congressional Republican majority, undermined Obama's mandate, set the terms of the sequestration fight, and locked Democrats out of the House for the next decade. It's not a new problem. But if the Supreme Court guts the Voting Rights Act, it could get a whole lot worse. And the electoral college may be next. (What's gerrymandering, you ask? Let the animals explain. Meet the Gerry-mander. Peruse the abused. Catch the movie. Or just play the game. Previously.)
posted by Rhaomi on Nov 14, 2012 - 137 comments

Roundup all the farmers

"Farmer Bowman began purchasing Monsanto’s patented seeds in 1999 and, because of the licensing agreement, did not save any of the seed for future planting. But he also bought so-called “commodity” seed from a local grain elevator, which acts as a clearinghouse for farmers to buy and sell seed. But given that more than 90 percent of the soybeans planted in the area were Roundup Ready crops, the elevator’s seed was contaminated with Monsanto’s patented seed. Farmer Bowman planted that commodity seed, which was substantially cheaper to purchase, to produce a second, late-season crop, which is generally more risky and lower yielding. He then used seeds generated in one late-season harvest to help produce subsequent late-season crops. Monsanto sued him for patent infringement, and he lost." [more inside]
posted by sio42 on Oct 11, 2012 - 105 comments

The quality of ownership is not what it was in yesteryear.

On October 29, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., a conflict about “first-sale doctrine”. The doctrine, which has been law in the U.S. since 1908, allows people to buy and then subsequently sell items (books, furniture, electronics, dvds, etc.) without needing additional permission from the copyright holder. Supap Kirtsaeng came to the United States from Thailand to study mathematics and attempted to save money by having his family purchase textbooks in Thailand and ship them to him. After reading up on the first-sale doctrine, Kirtsaeng began to sell these textbooks to others on eBay. He made $37,000, before he was sued by John Wiley, a textbook publisher. A jury found his copyright infringement to be willful. He was ordered to pay $75,000 per work for a total penalty of $600,000. He appealed, and lost at the 2nd Circuit.

The Library Journal notes that if the Supreme Court rules against Kirtsaeng, it could mean the end of public libraries. Marketwatch warns that it means the end of resale as we know it. Hollywood Esq. does the most cogent job of putting this IP fight in perspective of other IP fights before the Court.
posted by dejah420 on Oct 9, 2012 - 213 comments

Walk and Talk the Vote

What happens when a former star of the West Wing's sister decides to run for the Supreme Court of the State of Michigan? This.
posted by timsteil on Sep 20, 2012 - 76 comments

Dictionaries are mazes

The Incoherence of Antonin Scalia, by Richard A. Posner.
posted by Sticherbeast on Aug 29, 2012 - 46 comments

Tie game. Bottom of the 9th. Bases loaded. Two outs. Three balls. Two strikes. And the pitch...

In less than an hour, the Supreme Court will hand down its final judgment in what has become one of the most crucial legal battles of our time: the constitutionality of President Obama's landmark health care reform law. The product of a strict party line vote following a year century of debate, disinformation, and tense legislative wrangling, the Affordable Care Act would (among other popular reforms) require all Americans to buy insurance coverage by 2014, broadening the risk pool for the benefit of those with pre-existing conditions. The fate of this "individual mandate," bitterly opposed by Republicans despite its similarity to past plans touted by conservatives (including presidential contender Mitt Romney) is the central question facing the justices today. If the conservative majority takes the dramatic step of striking down the mandate, the law will be toothless, and in danger of wholesale reversal, rendering millions uninsured, dealing a crippling blow to the president's re-election hopes, and possibly endangering the federal regulatory state. But despite the pessimism of bettors, some believe the Court will demur, wary of damaging its already-fragile reputation with another partisan 5-4 decision. But those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know. Watch the SCOTUSblog liveblog for updates, Q&A, and analysis as the truth finally comes out shortly after 10 a.m. EST.
posted by Rhaomi on Jun 28, 2012 - 1173 comments

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Today the Supreme Court announced their 5-4 decision for Miller v. Alabama and found that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles who commit murder are unconstitutional. [more inside]
posted by Talez on Jun 25, 2012 - 165 comments

Kentucky v. King revisited

Remember Kentucky v. King from last year? The mis-reported conclusion was that police could enter a home without a warrant to prevent destruction of evidence based on hearing movement after knocking. A week ago the supreme court of Kentucky published (pdf) its revisiting of the case given instructions from the US supreme court, and found in favor of King (via): [more inside]
posted by a robot made out of meat on May 3, 2012 - 13 comments

"You can see it's not selling very well."

The US Supreme Court today heard arguments in the case of Arizona et al vs. United States, which concerns the role of states in enforcing federal immigration law. Two years ago this month, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law SB 1070, considered by many to be the toughest anti-immigration law in the country. In an ensuing outcry, the legislation was called racist and its backers nativists, with several groups organizing boycotts against the state of Arizona. [more inside]
posted by BobbyVan on Apr 25, 2012 - 48 comments

Supreme Court Gives Officers Unlimited Strip Search Power

In admitting that they have no expertise in running a corrections system, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that officers have unfettered authority to conduct full strip searches of any arrested individual, even for the most minor of offenses and in situations where officers lack any suspicion of contraband. The ruling comes days after the NY Times ran an analysis suggesting that the current supreme court is the most conservative court in modern history.
posted by GnomeChompsky on Apr 2, 2012 - 78 comments

United States v. Health Care Reform

This morning marked day two of marathon proceedings in what's likely the most momentous and politically-charged Supreme Court case since Bush v. Gore: the effort to strike down President Obama's landmark health care reform law. While yesterday was a sleepy affair of obscure technical debate, today's hearings targeted the heart of the law -- the individual mandate that requires most Americans to purchase insurance by 2014. With lower courts delivering a split decision before today, administration lawyers held some hope that at least one conservative justice could be persuaded to uphold the provision, which amortizes the risk that makes universal coverage possible. But after a day of deeply skeptical questioning by swing justice Anthony Kennedy and his fellow conservatives [transcript - audio], the mandate looks to be in grave trouble, with CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin going as far as calling the day "a train wreck" for the administration. But it's far from a done deal, with a third day of hearings tomorrow and a final decision not expected until June.
posted by Rhaomi on Mar 27, 2012 - 373 comments

...and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Arrested for speaking out! When does an "open-palm pat on the shoulder" become assault? When it's the Vice President's shoulder, that's when. The Supreme Court of the United States (previously) will today hear arguments in the matter of Reichle v. Howards. [more inside]
posted by gauche on Mar 21, 2012 - 40 comments

hey, that's a funny coincidence

Mary Brown, a 56-year-old Florida woman who owned a small auto repair shop but had no health insurance, became the lead plaintiff challenging President Obama's healthcare law because she was passionate about the issue. Brown "doesn't have insurance. She doesn't want to pay for it. And she doesn't want the government to tell her she has to have it," said Karen Harned, a lawyer for the National Federation of Independent Business. Brown is a plaintiff in the federation's case, which the Supreme Court plans to hear later this month. But court records reveal that Brown and her husband filed for bankruptcy last fall with $4,500 in unpaid medical bills. Those bills could change Brown from a symbol of proud independence into an example of exactly the problem the healthcare law was intended to address. [more inside]
posted by gerryblog on Mar 10, 2012 - 189 comments

What if the seminal case on reproductive freedom had been Struck v. Secretary of Defense instead of Roe v. Wade?

"This is an attempt at recovery. This Essay hopes to call attention to then-Professor Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 1972 merits brief in Struck v. Secretary of Defense. The brief has been underappreciated in part because the Supreme Court of the United States eventually declined to decide the case.” On the 40th anniversary of the brief's submission, read Reva Siegel's compelling essay [pdf] on this overlooked brief in which “Ginsburg and the women’s movement talked about pregnancy discrimination in a way that ties together pregnancy discrimination and women’s equality, and women’s equality and reproductive freedom, before the Court split them apart,” and imagine what might have been had the Supreme Court decided Struck v. Secretary of Defense in 1972.
posted by ocherdraco on Feb 21, 2012 - 3 comments

United States v. Shipp

The Supreme Court of the United States has held only one criminal trial in its history: United States v. Shipp. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Feb 7, 2012 - 30 comments

United States v. Jones

In a unanimous decision [PDF], the Supreme Court has ruled on United States v. Jones and found that placement of a GPS tracker on a car by police is a violation of the fourth amendment—but is the ruling as clear-cut as it seems? [more inside]
posted by reductiondesign on Jan 23, 2012 - 35 comments

This is why we can't have nice things.

Unanimous SCOTUS ruling: Anti-discrimination laws (such as the ADA) do not apply to church employees with religious duties. Full ruling: PDF, HTML
posted by Evilspork on Jan 13, 2012 - 107 comments

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