This week, 12 members of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association were sworn in to the Supreme Court bar. After they were presented to the court for admission, Roberts signed in American Sign Language: “Your motion is granted.” [more inside]
Twenty-five years ago, Anita Hill stood before 20 million people and testified that then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her while she’d worked for him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. [more inside]
Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to ‘One Person One Vote’ by Adam Liptak [The New York Times] The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously ruled that states may count all residents, whether or not they are eligible to vote, in drawing election districts. The decision was a major statement on the meaning of a fundamental principle of the American political system, that of “one person one vote.” Until this decision, the court had never resolved whether voting districts should contain the same number of people, or the same number of eligible voters. Counting all people amplifies the voting power of places that have large numbers of residents who cannot vote legally — including immigrants who are here legally but are not citizens, illegal immigrants, children and prisoners. Those places tend to be urban and to vote Democratic. [more inside]
In only the second case decided since the recent death of Justice Scalia, the United States Supreme Court today reached a decision [PDF] in the case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, deadlocking in a four-to-four tie that upholds an earlier circuit court ruling finding agency fees for non-union teachers to be constitutional, but that sets no precedent for future cases. [more inside]
At 11am Eastern time, President Obama will nominate Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, to the Supreme Court. Judge Garland is a centrist who was previously considered by the President for SCOTUS nomination in 2010, during the selection process which gave us Justice Sotomayor. He is reportedly "well known, well respected, and tremendously well liked in Washington legal circles; even Republicans have nice things to say about him." [more inside]
For the moment, the fate of the Clean Power Plan — and the question of just how capable the United States is of self-governance — remains uncertain. The Supreme Court ordered the Plan to be temporarily halted, most likely until the Court hands down an opinion on the legality of the Plan in June of 2017. If the Plan survives the next presidential election, and if it is ultimately upheld by the Court, then Tuesday’s order will only succeed in delaying the new rules. If the Court ultimately strikes down the Plan, however, the United States could be left impotent in the face of a looming catastrophe — and not just with respect to this particular catastrophe. The states challenging the Clean Power Plan call for sweeping changes to the balance of power between the regulator and the regulated. Indeed, if some of their most aggressive arguments succeed, it’s unclear that the federal government is permitted to do much of anything at all.-Ian Millhiser for ThinkProgress, "Inside The Most Important Supreme Court Case In Human History"
"Petitioner Montgomery was 17 years old in 1963, when he killed a deputy sheriff in Louisiana. The jury returned a verdict of “guilty without capital punishment,” which carried an automatic sentence of life without parole. Nearly 50 years after Montgomery was taken into custody, this Court decided that mandatory life without parole for juvenile homicide offenders violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on “ ‘cruel and unusual punishments.’" Today, the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, said that ruling will apply retroactively. [more inside]
Inside the Snitch Tank. After his arrest for the worst mass shooting in Orange County, CA history, Scott Dekraai poured out his feelings to a jailhouse informant. But instead of nailing down a death-penalty conviction against a confessed killer who was arrested with murder weapons in his car, the bugging of Dekraai’s cell touched off a legal storm over prosecutorial misconduct and the misuse of jailhouse informants which has delayed justice and drawn national attention. The Orange County Register has set up an extensive website to accompany their ongoing investigation and report.
Oral arguments were heard on Monday in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a Supreme Court case in which the plaintiffs are attempting to invoke their First Amendment right to free speech to avoid being compelled to pay their share of the costs of union representation. Summarizing the oral arguments for SCOTUSblog, Amy Howe notes that "public-employee unions are likely very nervous, as the Court’s more conservative Justices appeared ready to overrule the Court’s 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education and strike down the fees." [more inside]
“To the world, I am an attorney who had an abortion, and, to myself, I am an attorney because I had an abortion." The Center for Reproductive Rights and law firm Paul Weiss submitted an amicus brief [pdf] to the U.S. Supreme Court signed by 113 attorneys, detailing the importance of abortion rights in their own lives. [more inside]
Abigail Fisher, the white student who is challenging the use of race in admissions at the university which rejected her application in 2008, was back at the Supreme Court again, as she was for the first round of arguments in her case in October 2012. [more inside]
'Marty Was Always My Best Friend': Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Love Story, an excerpt in Jezebel from the new book Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik. [Don't read this unless you're ready to sob like a baby.]
A Dream Undone: Inside the 50-year campaign to roll back the Voting Rights Act.
Supreme Court rules against gerrymandering - "Ginsburg's opinion is now the law, and I suspect that, in a few decades, this case will be considered one of the most important of the term. Thus far, only California has copied Arizona and created an independent redistricting commission. But with the court's blessing, more states are likely to follow suit. These commissions have been hugely successful thus far, a real boost for representative democracy and a cure for the notoriously stubborn problem of gerrymandering. Had Justice Anthony Kennedy swung away from Ginsburg and aligned with his fellow conservatives, America would be facing down a distressingly undemocratic future."
Jim Obergefell and John Arthur had been together nearly two decades when John was stricken by terminal ALS. With their union unconstitutional in Ohio, the couple turned to friends and family to fund a medical flight to Maryland, where they wed, tearfully, on the tarmac [prev.]. After John's death, however, Jim found himself embroiled in an ugly legal battle with his native state over the right to survivor status on John's death certificate -- a fight he eventually took all the way to the Supreme Court. And that's how this morning -- two years after U.S. v. Windsor, a dozen after Lawrence v. Texas, and at the crest of an unprecedented wave of social change -- the heartbreaking case of Obergefell v. Hodges has at long last rendered same-sex marriage legal nationwide in a 5-4 decision lead by Justice Anthony Kennedy. [more inside]
The US Supreme Court upholds subsidies on the federal exchanges in King v. Burwell in a 6-3 ruling written by the Chief Justice Roberts. Rejecting Chevron deference, the court decided that Congress actually intended for the federal exchanges to work like the state exchanges.
The Seven Minutes In 2000 When The Clinton White House Considered Endorsing Marriage Equality (SL Longform Buzzfeed)
What does all of this mean to the Davids of the world, the gay assimilationists that want to, wish they could, somebody do something, there's gotta be a way we can, Dignify This Parade? The ones begging: "Can't we get our people to at least DRESS respectfully for one lousy day? Is that too much to ask of our people? " Yes, yes it is.
Supreme Court Ruling Not Enough To Prevent Debtors Prisons Judge Robert Swisher, a Superior Court judge in Benton County, says he'll make judgments based on how people present themselves in court. "They come in wearing expensive jackets," he says referring to defendants who wear NFL football team jackets, "or maybe a thousand dollars' worth of tattoos on their arms. And they say, 'I'm just living on handouts.' " If the jacket or tattoos were a gift, he tells the defendants they should have asked the giver for the cash to pay their court fees instead.[more inside]
"There is nothing borrowed, or blue." As the Sixth Circuit marriage cases head to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, LGBT organizations make their closing arguments via YouTube.
In the case, Rodriguez v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled (6-3) today that a police officer may not extend a traffic stop beyond the time needed to complete the tasks related to that stop for the purposes of allowing a trained dog to sniff for drugs. Supremecourt.gov pdf, Washington Post article.
Buzzfeed profiles Jim Obergefell, the widower whose case will be heard, among others, at the Supreme Court in next month. [more inside]
Last week the Supreme Court of the United States ruled (PDF) on the case of Yates v. United States, whether the captain of a fishing boat violated the Sarbanes-Oxley Act by throwing undersized red grouper overboard to avoid prosecution. [more inside]
Now in open beta, SCOTUS Search allows users to "search the text of 1,424,780 individual statements within 6,683 Supreme Court oral arguments." [more inside]
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear cases on same-sex marriage. The focus of the Court’s review will be a decision issued in early November by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which upheld bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. The Court will rule on the power of U.S. states to ban same-sex marriages or refuse to recognize such marriages when performed in another state. Hearings will likely take place in April, and a final ruling is expected in late June. [more inside]
On August 21, a federal judge in Florida ruled that that the state's ban on same sex marriage was unconstitutional, but the ruling was stayed until January 5. Although the state Attorney General appealed the ruling and asked for a further stay, both the 11th circuit, and os of last night the Supreme Court have denied the appeal, and Florida will become the 36th marriage equality state on January 6th. [more inside]
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]
On Monday, the Supreme Court (with a recovering Ruth Bader Ginsburg) will hear argument in Elonis v. United States, a case where a man was convicted for posts and messages on Facebook that prosecutors treated as threats of actual violence. (trigger warning: descriptions of violence) [more inside]
Today, by a 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit upheld the same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan. reversing a federal district court decision and creating a circuit split: the Sixth Circuit has upheld bans, while the Fourth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuits have struck them down. [more inside]
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]