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Notes From Guantánamo

My Guantánamo Nightmare. Lakhdar Boumediene was imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay for seven years without explanation or charge until his case made it to the Supreme Court, leading to a decision which bears his name and his release ordered by a federal judge. The NYTimes has his and another account from another former detainee: Notes From a Guantánamo Survivor. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jan 9, 2012 - 63 comments

Montana Supreme Court takes on the US Supreme Court

Last week Montana's Supreme Court ruled 5-2 to essentialy ignore Citizens United. Even Justice James C. Nelson one of the 2 dissenters had this to say about the Citizens United decision:
"Corporations are not persons. Human beings are persons, and it is an affront to the inviolable dignity of our species that courts have created a legal fiction which forces people — human beings — to share fundamental, natural rights with soulless creatures of government,"
Of course the prediction is an overturn of the Montana ruling, but some hope that now given the real world examples of the modern SuperPac Justice Kennedy will at least revisit some of his earlier justification. (the ruling in question: Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney Generalpdf)
posted by edgeways on Jan 9, 2012 - 150 comments

Medical Patents

Prometheus Labs v. Mayo Clinic has the potential to make decision procedures about medical treatment patentable. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Dec 8, 2011 - 29 comments

Supreme court opinions successfully modeled as Facebook like button

Roger Guimera Manrique and Marta Sales-Pardo have shown that "U.S. Supreme Court justice votes are more predictable than one would expect from an ideal court composed of perfectly independent justices." [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Nov 17, 2011 - 47 comments

Supreme Court grants cert to Affordable Care Act

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.
posted by insectosaurus on Nov 15, 2011 - 77 comments

Justice Clarence Thomas v President Barack Obama

"The Justices all sit in high-backed leather swivel chairs, and Thomas has set his so that he can recline so far that he appears almost to be lying down. He stares at the ceiling. He rubs his face. He does not appear to be listening. He closes his eyes and sometimes appears to be asleep. The over-all effect is rude, if not contemptuous." The New Yorker profiles Justice Clarence Thomas, his wife Ginni's Tea Party connections and what they might mean for the inevitable SCOTUS ruling on Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and looks back on his confirmation hearings. Previously, Justice Thomas and Ginni; Obama and healthcare; SCOTUS.
posted by reductiondesign on Aug 24, 2011 - 124 comments

SCOTUS, Video Games, & Violence

US Supreme Court finds Cali. law restricting sales of violent videogames to adults violates First Amendment. [more inside]
posted by modernnomad on Jun 27, 2011 - 93 comments

A deliberate, knowing lie.

Acting Solicitor Gen. Neal Katyal, in an extraordinary admission of misconduct, took to task one of his predecessors for hiding evidence and deceiving the Supreme Court. The misconduct took place 'in two of the major cases in its history: the World War II rulings that upheld the detention of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans.' 'Scholars and judges have denounced the World War II rulings as among the worst in the court's history, but neither the high court nor the Justice Department had formally admitted they were mistaken — until now. "It seemed obvious to me we had made a mistake. The duty of candor wasn't met," Katyal said.' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword on May 25, 2011 - 38 comments

KENTUCKY v. KING

How “secure” do our homes remain if police, armed with no warrant, can pound on doors at will and, on hearing sounds indicative of things moving, forcibly enter and search for evidence of unlawful activity?
Supreme Court OKs More Warrantless Searches [more inside]
posted by AceRock on May 17, 2011 - 305 comments

AT&T MOBILITY LLC, PETITIONER v. VINCENT CONCEPCION ET UX.

Third, class arbitration greatly increases risks to defendants. Informal procedures do of course have a cost: The absence of multilayered review makes it more likely that errors will go uncorrected. Defendants are willing to accept the costs of these errors in arbitration, since their impact is limited to the size of individual disputes, and presumably outweighed by savings from avoiding the courts. But when damages allegedly owed to tens of thousands of potential claimants are aggregated and decided at once, the risk of an error will often become unacceptable. Faced with even a small chance of a devastating loss, defendants will be pressured into settling questionable claims.
Justice Scalia delivers the opinion of the Court, and a knife in the back of class-action suits. [more inside]
posted by kipmanley on Apr 27, 2011 - 107 comments

It's Ugly, But It's Legal

The Supreme Court has ruled 8-1 in favor of categorizing Westboro Baptist Church's funeral protests as protected speech under the First Amendment. [more inside]
posted by EmpressCallipygos on Mar 2, 2011 - 181 comments

Criminals Are Stupid

'Conservative justices appear to agree police should be allowed to enter a suspect's residence without a warrant if they suspect evidence is being destroyed.' 'Police officers who smell marijuana coming from an apartment can break down the door and enter if they have reason to believe the evidence might be destroyed, several Supreme Court's justices suggested Wednesday.''Scalia said the police couldn't go wrong by knocking loudly on the door. "Criminals are stupid," he said, and they often cooperate with police when they are not required to do so. They might open the door and let officers inside, or if not, the police can break in.''In the past, the high court usually has said police cannot enter a home or apartment without a search warrant because of the 4th Amendment's ban on "unreasonable searches and seizures." But during arguments in a drug case, the court's conservatives said they favored relaxing that rule when police say they have a need to act fast.' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword on Jan 14, 2011 - 147 comments

The Citizens United Shall Never Be Divided

The latest attempt to mitigate the impact of the Citizens United decision has failed, with an attempt to pass transparency rules for corporations funding political advertising failing to reach cloture. Obama comments on this vote in his most recent weekly address. Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (2010) held that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment. [more inside]
posted by lucien_reeve on Sep 24, 2010 - 44 comments

Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project

Court Affirms Ban on Aiding Groups Tied to Terror. "In a case pitting free speech against national security, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld a federal law (PDF) that makes it a crime to provide 'material support' to foreign terrorist organizations, even if the help takes the form of training for peacefully resolving conflicts."
posted by homunculus on Jun 22, 2010 - 59 comments

To remain silent, simply speak

In a 5-4 decision in the case of Berghuis v. Thompkins, the Supreme Court has ruled that suspects must explicitly assert their right to remain silent under the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona decision. [more inside]
posted by 0xFCAF on Jun 1, 2010 - 156 comments

Did The British Really Put Child Criminals To Death?

On Monday the SCOTUS said juveniles who commit crimes in which no one is killed may not be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Thomas, ever the orginalist, apparently said they should only consider practices at the time the Bill of Rights was adopted. Stevens, however, noted people as young as 7 were put to death in the 18th century. "Knowledge accumulates," he wrote. "We learn, sometimes, from our mistakes." So, did they really put kids that young to death? Well, Probably Not. A look back at all the death sentences handed down for children under age fourteen by a well documented court in London found in every case (over 100 in all) the initial death sentence was eventually changed to transportation, imprisonment, and/or whipping. No child criminal was actually put to death.
posted by Blake on May 21, 2010 - 37 comments

US vs Comstock

The Supreme Court in a 7-2 decision on US v Comstock has upheld continued detention of sex offenders who have served their time.
posted by Electrius on May 17, 2010 - 105 comments

Deciding the fate of the Mojave Cross

Yesterday, in a highly split decision with six separate opinions, the United States Supreme Court overturned a Ninth Circuit ruling in Salazar v. Buono. The issue at hand? Whether the location of the Mojave Memorial Cross represented an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. The Ninth Circuit decided that it did, but its ruling has been called into question by the high court on several levels. [more inside]
posted by Riki tiki on Apr 29, 2010 - 114 comments

Justice as Commissioner

The judge-umpire analogy has a long historical pedigree. [more inside]
posted by shakespeherian on Mar 9, 2010 - 5 comments

FantasySCOTUS

FantasySCOTUS. For the Tenth Justice in all of us.
posted by OmieWise on Feb 26, 2010 - 15 comments

Business Should Mind Its Own Business

Alan Grayson (D - FL) has introduced a bill to tax corporate political campaign donations at 500% (via). The bill is called the "Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act."
posted by lohmannn on Jan 25, 2010 - 93 comments

Eye of Providence

The Business Plot of 1933 has reached a logical conclusion: the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely (pdf) to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress.
posted by four panels on Jan 21, 2010 - 332 comments

Follow the money. I'll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that's all. Just... follow the money.

It's time to find out who owns your democracy, and how they bought it. Do you feel like US campaign finance is hopelessly shrouded in mystery? Fear not citizen, there's a website for that: The Center for Responsive Politics has made available a well-organized, highly detailed database of their analysis of US campaign finance to shine a bright nonpartisan light on the green underbelly of US democracy. [more inside]
posted by Salvor Hardin on Jan 18, 2010 - 25 comments

Good news - it's Supreme Court Week.

Beginning Sunday, October 4 it's Supreme Court Week on C-SPAN! [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Sep 30, 2009 - 9 comments

Let the games begin

Today began Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Senate confirmation hearings, with opening remarks from the Senators on the Judiciary Committee, introductions from NY Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and an opening statement from Judge Sotomayor herself. Among the shouted protests from pro-life advocates in the gallery, highlights included Sen. Lindsay Graham's statement about what he thinks the advise-and-consent function of the senate should entail, and Sen. Al Franken's first real moment in the U.S. Congress.
posted by Navelgazer on Jul 13, 2009 - 86 comments

By The Content Of Their Character

Today, on the last day of this year's term, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in Ricci v. DeStefano, the latest in the Court's line of decisions on Title VII and the role of race in employment decisions. The famous case centers on white firefighters' claims of race discrimination following the town of New Haven's decision to scuttle a promotion exam after white test takers performed disproportionately better than black firefighters. [more inside]
posted by Law Talkin' Guy on Jun 29, 2009 - 89 comments

Obama picks Sotomayer for SCOTUS

The New York Times is reporting that President Obama will nominate Judge Sonia Sotomayor as Justice David Souter's replacement on the Supreme Court. Sotomayer, currently a judge in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, will (if confirmed by the Senate) be only the third female and the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog predicted Sotomayer as one of Obama's three most likely candidates back in January.
posted by XQUZYPHYR on May 26, 2009 - 153 comments

Souter to retire

NPR is reporting that Supreme Court Justice David Souter will retire at the end of the current Court term, pending the approval of a replacement to be appointed by President Obama. Appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, Souter's replacement will presumably maintain the balance of ascribed "left-leaning" to "right-leaning" justices at 4-5, but will increase the number of justices on the bench appointed by a Democratic president to 3. At 69, Souter is in fact the youngest of the so-called "left-leaning" justices currently on the bench.
posted by XQUZYPHYR on Apr 30, 2009 - 113 comments

Pleasant Grove City v. Summum

The previously-mentioned Summums want to place their own monument in a park which contains the Ten Commandments, making the Supreme Court's heads explode in a a hilariously weird oral argument[pdf]: "Scalia: I don't know what that means. You keep saying it, and I don't know what it means. [...] Breyer: Suppose that there certain messages that private people had like "eat vitamins"—and then somebody comes along with a totally different content, "ride the roller coaster," and they say this part of the park is designed to get healthy children, not put children at risk." [more inside]
posted by Non Prosequitur on Nov 13, 2008 - 116 comments

Life and death of a black and white

Texas executes Mexican national who was denied consul visit. [more inside]
posted by mrducts on Aug 6, 2008 - 121 comments

Heller v. D.C. Decided

Heller v. District of Columbia, the U.S. Supreme Court's first actual interpretation of the Second Amendment, has just come down. In a 5-4 decision, the Justices ruled D.C.'s comprehensive handgun ban to be unconstitutional. Antonin Scalia writes for the majority.
posted by Navelgazer on Jun 26, 2008 - 364 comments

"The test for determining the scope of this provision must not be subject to manipulation by those whose power it is designed to restrain."

In a five-to-four decision, the Supreme Court ruled today that detainees at Guantanamo Bay have a constitutional right to habeas corpus review:
Security depends upon a sophisticated intelligence apparatus and the ability of our Armed Forces to act and to interdict. There are further considerations, however. Security subsists, too, in fidelity to freedom’s first principles. Chief among these are freedom from arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by adherence to the separation of powers.[...] Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law. The Framers decided that habeas corpus, a right of first importance, must be a part of that framework, a part of that law.
Decision, Summary, Analysis
posted by anotherpanacea on Jun 12, 2008 - 118 comments

Live Free Or Die ... Silly?

Members of the Montana legislature (out of session) appear to be attempting to force the Supreme Court's hand in a fairly landmark gun-control case, Heller v. DC. Through an extra-session resolution, they are invoking contract law, by stating that the contract between the Montana people, through our Constitution, and the Federal Government will be ... ? ... if the Heller case is decided 'incorrectly'. What is at issue is one of the SCOTUS' seminal opportunities to rule concerning collective rights versus individual rights for firearm possession. [more inside]
posted by Wulfgar! on Feb 21, 2008 - 97 comments

Al Odah v. U.S. and Boumediene v. Bush

Al Odah v. U.S. and Boumediene v. Bush go before SCOTUS Streaming on C-Span today. The Center for Constitutional Rights (great podcast) will argue before the Supreme Court today:
Immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision in Rasul, The Center for Constitutional Rights and cooperating counsel filed 11 new habeas petitions in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of over 70 detainees. These cases eventually became the consolidated cases of Al Odah v. United Statesand Boumediene v. Bush, the leading cases determining the significance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Rasul, the rights of non-citizens to challenge the legality of their detention in an offshore U.S. military base, and the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

posted by ao4047 on Dec 5, 2007 - 29 comments

"we upheld against proportionality attack a sentence of 40 years' imprisonment for possession with intent to distribute nine ounces of marijuana" - Justice Kennedy

DrugPolicyCases.com - Yakov Spektor, a New York-based attorney, combed through two decades of US Supreme Court opinions "to discern certain trends in the Court's treatment of various issues" related to the War on Drugs. The collection of opinions are organized by case, author and topic.
posted by daksya on Nov 26, 2007 - 8 comments

Two doors down

This happens a lot. I mean a lot. All over the place. All these stories are within the last five weeks. Inexcusable, some say. If they break in and cause damage, they have to pay, though, right? Not according to the U.S. Supreme Court, which says if your address is on the warrant, you get to pay, even if it's a mistake.
posted by Kirth Gerson on Jun 8, 2007 - 149 comments

Supreme Court Alters 12(b)(6) Standards

The Supreme Court issued its opinion Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly [pdf] today. Although superficially an antitrust case, the Court examined the standard of review under 12(b)(6) and concluded that the old "no set of facts" standard should be officially retired.
posted by monju_bosatsu on May 21, 2007 - 34 comments

Partial-Birth Abortion Ban

New Justices, New Rules: How the Supreme Court's Validation of the Federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act Affects Women's Constitutional Liberty and Equality. A two-part FindLaw analysis of Gonzales v. Carhart.
posted by homunculus on May 8, 2007 - 26 comments

Abortions for none, miniature American flags for others

The Supreme Court has upheld the federal ban on "Partial-Birth Abortion," in a 5-4 decision. The federal ban provides no exceptions for the health of the mother, the reason previous Courts overturned the law. Justice Kennedy argued the law banning the procedure should stay, as opponents "have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases." In a scathing dissent, Justice Ginsburg alluded to the politics of recent judicial appointments, noting "...the Court's defense of it cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court -- and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women's lives. A decision of the character the Court makes today should not have staying power."
posted by XQUZYPHYR on Apr 18, 2007 - 219 comments

SCOTUS requires EPA to consider global warming

In a 5-4 opinion [pdf], the Supreme Court concluded today that the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases that may contribute to global warming, and must examine the scientific evidence of a link between those gases contained in the exhausts of new cars and trucks and climate change. Justice Stevens wrote the majority opinion, and Justice Scalia wrote a dissent, joined by Roberts, Thomas, and Alito. ScotusBlog summary here.
posted by monju_bosatsu on Apr 2, 2007 - 30 comments

Crime doesn't pay.

Tighter restrictions on damage awards. The two questions presented to the U.S. Supreme Court centered on whether or not the highly reprehensible conduct of a defendant is analogous to a crime and can "override" the constitutional requirement that punitive damages be reasonably related to the plaintiffs harm. The answer is no. (21 page pdf) Held: 1. A punitive damages award based in part on a jury’s desire to punish a defendant for harming nonparties amounts to a taking of property from the defendant without due process. The majority: Roberts, Alito, Kennedy, Souter, and Breyer. Dissenting: Ginsburg, Scalia, Stevens, and Thomas.
posted by three blind mice on Feb 20, 2007 - 37 comments

"President Bush overstepped his authority"

The U.S. Supreme Court has just ruled President Bush overstepped his authority in creating military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees. The 5-3 vote (Roberts recused himself) found the "military commissions" illegal under both military justice law and the Geneva Convention. More from SCOTUSblog.
posted by XQUZYPHYR on Jun 29, 2006 - 191 comments

Money continues to count as speech.

SCOTUS strikes down campaign finance restrictions [pdf]. The Supreme Court issued an opinion today in Randall v. Sorrell, striking down limits on campaign contributions and campaign spending imposed by the state of Vermont. The Court, in a fractured opinion (six separate opinions, including two dissents), concluded that restrictions on both contributions and expenditures ran afoul of the First Amendment. More from Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog. Expect more from Rick Hasen later today.
posted by monju_bosatsu on Jun 26, 2006 - 81 comments

... a page of history is worth a volume of logic.

Injunctions in patent cases not automatic. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision (16 page pdf) on Monday in the dispute between eBay and MercExchange. The Court ruled in favor of eBay finding that the lower Appeals Court erred as a matter of law in creating a general rule that “courts will issue permanent injunctions against patent infringement absent exceptional circumstances.” In the concurring opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Scalia and Ginsberg, Roberts citing Court precedent noted that: “[d]iscretion is not whim, and limiting discretion according to legal standards helps promote the basic principle of justice that like cases should be decided alike.”
posted by three blind mice on May 17, 2006 - 25 comments

Luttig resigns Fourth Circuit post.

Luttig Resigns. Judge J. Michael Luttig, long considered a front-runner for a Supreme Court nomination, at least until he was passed over by President Bush, has resigned his position on the Fourth circuit. Luttig will take over as general counsel to Boeing. Read Boeing's press release and Luttig's resignation letter [pdf].
posted by monju_bosatsu on May 10, 2006 - 29 comments

The Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment provides, in part, that "...no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause." The Supreme Court has issued its (yet another) 8-0 opinion, authored by Justice Scalia in the case of United States v. Grubbs, overturning the Ninth Circuit decision. Justice Souter filed a concurring opinion. Grubbs deals with the question of anticipatory warrants, and it is the first time that the Court has addressed the practice. It appears that under this ruling, preemptive warrants can issue without existing probable cause, but merely on the supposition that probable cause will exist in the future.

Some legal scholars had anticipated that at least the more conservative members of the Court would rule against anticipatory warrants. After all, under Blackstone's analysis of the common law rule that contributed to the Fourth Amendment, as noted by Professor Orin Kerr in the NYU Journal of Law and Liberty symposium on the subject, warrants "issue" when they are signed by the judge, and not when the precedent condition occurs. Professor Chris Slobogin disagrees. Kerr has posted a preliminary analysis of the decision on his new blawg. The case has previously been discussed by the smart people over at the Volokh Conspiracy.
posted by Pontius Pilate on Mar 22, 2006 - 45 comments

Vegetal ruling

Religious use of ayahuasca ruled lawful in U.S.
posted by xowie on Feb 21, 2006 - 79 comments

Just how important are law clerks?

David Garrow reviewed Justice Blackmun's papers, released to the public in 2005, and concludes that towards the end of his career, Blackmun's clerks all but signed his opinions. In an interview, discussing senility and Supreme Court Justices, Garrow argues that there has been "a dramatic increase over the last 35 or 45 years in the amount of the justices’ work that is performed by their law clerks," and recommends a "reduction to two or, even better yet, one clerk" from the four clerks available per Justice now. Garrow also comments on the now-deceased Chief Justice Rehnquist, who suffered from an addiction to painkillers in the 1980s. Garrow's view is controversial, though, and Legal Affairs published several responses in the same issue. Other law professors have weighed in, including Dan Markel, Mark Tushnet, and some of the folks at the Volokh Conspiracy. So how large is the impact of law clerks?
posted by monju_bosatsu on Feb 15, 2006 - 63 comments

Bill aims to set up court challenge to Roe v. Wade

South Dakota House approves sweeping abortion ban Although saying they personally abhor abortion, opponents made several unsuccessful attempts to make exceptions in cases of rape and incest, and to protect pregnant women whose health may be endangered.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood on Feb 10, 2006 - 50 comments

Supreme Court Oral Argument MP3s.

The Oyez Project has placed online mp3s for all of the arguments from the 2004 term of the United States Supreme Court. The 2004 terms spans all cases argued between October 4, 2004, and April 27, 2005, including United States v. Booker and United States v. FanFan, Roper v. Simmons , Raich v. Gonzales, Kelo v. City of New London, McCreary County v. ACLU, and Van Orden v. Perry. [slightly more inside]
posted by monju_bosatsu on Feb 7, 2006 - 25 comments

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