The Obama Brief: The President considers his judicial legacy. (SL New Yorker)
This morning, the Supreme Court denied cert petitions in all seven same-sex marriage cases that had been brought to the SCOTUS level. [more inside]
Hey, remember when the Supreme Court ruled that every religion needs to have a shot at opening a legislative session with a prayer? Well, ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for David Suhor, Agnostic Pagan Pantheist. Wait, where are you going?
I just freed an innocent man from death row. And I’m still furious. "Some people expect me to feel satisfied, or even happy. The truth is: I am angry. I am angry that we live in a world where two disabled boys can have their lives stolen from them, where cops can lie and intimidate with impunity, where innocent people can be condemned to die and where injustice is so difficult to bring to light. As I lie awake at night, mulling over the maddening details of this case, I wonder: How many more Henry McCollums are still imprisoned, waiting for help that will never come?" [more inside]
When the Supreme Court agrees to hear a case, they often receive dozens of amicus briefs, or "friend of the court" briefs; SCOTUS "opinions are increasingly studded with citations of facts they learned from amicus briefs." "The trouble with amicus facts... is that today anyone can claim to be a factual expert."
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]
A federal judge has struck down Florida's state constitutional ban against gay marriage. Four state justices have previously struck down the ban, but U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle became the first federal judge to rule the Sunshine State's ban unconstitutional. [more inside]
The Supreme Court holds closely held corporations cannot be required to provide contraception coverage with Justice Alito authoring the majority decision. Justice Ginsburg, in her dissent, calls it a "decision of startling breadth." SCOTUSBlog has a live blog of todays' decisions, which also includes Harris v. Quinn, on the ability of unions to require certain types of employees to contribute.
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]
The Supreme Court has unanimously reversed (large PDF) the California Court of Appeals in Riley v. California, deciding that police cannot search the contents of a phone without a warrant during an arrest, and that "the fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought." [more inside]
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]
We hold that the claims at issue are drawn to the abstract idea of intermediated settlement, and that merely requiring generic computer implementation fails to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.The United States Supreme Court has ruled 9-0 [pdf], invalidating many but by no means all software patents, in Alice v CLS Bank. [more inside]
We must first determine whether the claims at issue are directed to a patent-ineligible concept. We conclude that they are.
Tomorrow, is the 60th Anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision (pdf) in Brown v. Board of Education [more inside]
The Supreme Court ruled (PDF) this morning that the town of Greece, New York did not violate the Constitution by starting its public meetings with a prayer from a “chaplain of the month." [more inside]
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.
"Anita", a documentary by director Freida Mock, which opened in New York and Los Angeles last weekend, looks back on the journey of Anita Hill, who famously testified that her former boss and then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her. Trailer [more inside]
This morning, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, two cases where private corporations have challenged the Affordable Care Act's contraception coverage mandate. Previously, and previously [more inside]
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]
Freddie Lee Hall, as a child, had been classified as "mentally retarded"; he is illiterate, cannot cook for himself, bathe independently, clean his clothes, and is unable to handle his own finances. Halll was sentenced to death for murdering Karol Hurst, a 21-year-old pregnant woman who was abducted leaving a Leesburg, Fla., grocery store in 1978. His guilt is not at issue; what is at issue, before the Supreme Court this morning, is whether the Florida Supreme Court's definition of mental retardation (having an IQ of 70 or less) was correctly applied to Hall, who has tested at an IQ of 71. [more inside]
During oral arguments this week on the Marvin Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States case, Justice Antonin Scalia chastised attorney Steven Lechner for reading from his script. Justice Stephen Breyer broke the tension with these words: "It's all right." [more inside]
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]
Supreme Court to consider lifting campaign contribution limits. Reversing McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission would allow unlimited individual campaign contributions.
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]
A new study from Harvard Law School (get the full paper here) reports that nearly half of the links cited in Supreme Court opinions are rotten (sometimes cleverly so).
A new web-service built through collaboration by many of the largest libraries in the world, Perma, currently in Beta, will enable users to create citation links that will never break.
SCOTUS declares DOMA Unconstitutional, 5 - 4. The gay rights movement saw a significant victory at the Supreme Court Wednesday, where the justices struck down part of a law barring federal benefits to married same-sex couples. In a 5-4 ruling, the court struck down a provision of the 17-year-old Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denies federal benefits -- like Social Security benefits or the ability to file joint tax returns - to same-sex couples legally married. The impact of the DOMA case, United States v. Windsor, is clear for the nation's approximately 130,000 married same-sex couples. Section 3 of the law, the provision that was struck down, denies same-sex couples federal benefits. That provision impacts around 1,100 federal laws, including veterans' benefits, family medical leave and tax laws.
On appeal, the Federal Circuit has upheld Ultramericial's patent on the process of users viewing video ads online in order to view content. The court ruled that the abstractness of the patent does not invalidate it. [more inside]
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]
"We hold that a naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated," Justice Clarence Thomas writes in the court's decision following a unanimous ruling in the case of Association for Molecular Pathology et al. v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., et al.. "Myriad did not create or alter either the genetic information encoded in the BCRA1 and BCRA2 genes or the genetic structure of the DNA. It found an important and useful gene, but groundbreaking, innovative, or even brilliant discovery does not by itself satisfy the §101 inquiry." [more inside]
After a decade or so of legal back-and-forth between Utah-based Myriad Genetics and medical researchers, the ACLU, and the Public Patent Forum, the US Supreme Court will hear a case next week which attempts to address whether genes — isolated (derivative) or original — can be patented. The stakes are high on both sides: opponents use Myriad's actions to argue that giving short-term monopoly control over humanity's genetic constituency is not in the public interest, while proponents defend the use of patents to spur private research in biotech, alternative energy and other nascent industries.
Yesterday, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed Senate Bill 97, the Scottsboro Boys Act allowing for posthumous pardons. Bentley has said he wanted to close a chapter of state history. The Scottsboro case led to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision against excluding Blacks from juries. [more inside]
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]
The Supreme Court has held that the First Sale Doctrine applies to copyrighted material manufactured and sold abroad. (Previously) [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. Via
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]
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]
Hobby Lobby, a craft store with 525 U.S. locations, has announced that it will defy a federal mandate to provide health coverage for all employees that includes emergency contraceptive coverage, and will pay a fine of $1.3 million every day. [more inside]
In a private conference this morning, the Supreme Court of the United Stated discussed ten petitions relating to the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8. [more inside]
Today, the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that "we conclude that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act violates equal protection and is therefore unconstitutional" [PDF of decision]. Plaintiff Edie Windsor has also petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear her case. [more inside]
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court returned from summer vacation, and among other things, it heard the second oral argument of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co.. Esther Kiobel and eleven other Nigerian plaintiffs are accusing oil companies of complicity in a brutal crackdown on protesters that included torture and murder; during the first round of arguments, "some of the court's conservative justices signaled a willingness to shield corporations from liability in U.S. courts over allegations that they had aided or acquiesced to foreign governments that abused their own people." Meanwhile, a group called People Against Legalizing Murder has launched MurderisBad.com - which Shell has allegedly blocked from its employees.
But it is already too late. CNN has been carefully orchestrating its transformation into a shockingly efficient news distribution company. They have been planning to saturate every screen in reach with this story as fast as possible, and the producer’s initial go-ahead pulled the trigger. On the air, Wolf Blitzer is sending the coverage to the Courthouse steps. And as planned the reporter is putting her phone down to go on the air, which cuts herself off from the only CNN employee with access to the opinion. We’re getting wildly differing assessments: SCOTUSblog compiles first-hand accounts of the minutes between 10:06 and 10:15am on June 28, when CNN and FOX misreported and retracted that the mandate had been struck down.
Sixty-nine photos of US politicians in high school with a few others mixed in.
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.
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]
Today, the 9th Circuit said a majority of its 26 actively serving judges has voted not to revisit a three-judge panel's 2-1 decision declaring the voter-approved ban to be a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians in California. Now that en banc rehearing was denied, the proponents have 90 days to file a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court, seeking review of the decision striking down Proposition 8. Oral argument would follow a few months later, and then a final decision would be issued by June or July 2013.
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]
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.
On June 3, 1961, a poor drifter named Clarence Gideon was seen getting into a cab with a bottle of wine, some smokes, and some cash in his pockets as he left the Bay Harbor Pool Room. Police had been called to investigate a broken cigarette machine and promptly found and arrested Gideon. Unable to afford an attorney and forced by the trial judge to represent himself, he was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. After having his petition for a writ of Habeus Corpus denied by the Florida Supreme Court, he petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court. 49 years ago today, the court ruled unanimously in his favor, setting a lasting, fundamental precedent. His case was sent back down to Florida, and with proper representation, he was acquitted.