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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

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

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

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

"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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Literal Wisconsin Supreme Court battle

Two weeks ago, the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted 4-3 [video] to reinstate 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]
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Jun 26, 2011 - 160 comments

Canuck court claims consciousness-less consent clearly crap.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled today, in a 6-3 decision, that a person cannot give advance consent to sexual activity while unconscious. [more inside]
posted by greatgefilte on May 27, 2011 - 109 comments

"Discrimination generates hatred"

Brazil's supreme court recognises same sex unions. The Brazilian Supreme Court voted 10-0 (one abstention) yesterday to recognise same-sex civil unions as of equal legal validity to marriage/ with "stable" same-sex couples now able to gain certificates that allow access to equal legal rights. "Discrimination generates hatred," said Justice Carlos Ayres Britto, who wrote the ruling. [more inside]
posted by jaduncan on May 8, 2011 - 42 comments

Los Angeles Times - Sotomayor, Kagan - David G. Savage

Sotomayor, Kagan shift Supreme Court debates to the left. The liberal wing is no longer drowned out by Scalia and his fellow conservatives during oral arguments.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Dec 27, 2010 - 35 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

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) are registered nurses who have special training and experience in forensic evidence collection (conducting “rape kits”) and survivor-centered care. They also increasingly conduct forensic examinations on suspects accused of sexual assault(PDF). There is evidence that, through this work, SANE programs increase the prosecution rates of sexual assault cases. However, as a result of a recent Supreme Court Case, Crawford v. Washington, the role of SANEs is being increasingly curtailed(behind a pay wall). [more inside]
posted by emilyd22222 on Jun 16, 2010 - 57 comments

Hello, Ivy League

Now that Stevens, a Northwestern Law grad, is retiring, all eight remaining Supreme Court justices hail from either Harvard or Yale law school. Is it time for some educational diversity on the court? Many think the court needs to expand its educational horizons. Complaints aren’t limited to the Justices themselves. Both Congress and Justice Thomas are concerned with a lack of different educational backgrounds among the clerks.
posted by HabeasCorpus on Apr 15, 2010 - 42 comments

Rosen on Roberts

US Supreme Court Chief Justice told law professor and commentator Jeffrey Rosen, “I think it’s bad, long-term, if people identify the rule of law with how individual justices vote.” He expressed his intention to help steer the Court away from 5-4 decisions. Now, three years later, Rosen argues that Roberts has been an activist, combative chief justice, willing to risk confrontations with the other branches of government and public opinion.
posted by ibmcginty on Mar 2, 2010 - 75 comments

FantasySCOTUS

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

Has the Supreme Court Become Too Catholic

Has the Supreme Court become too Catholic?
posted by jefficator on Dec 10, 2009 - 123 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

Oh, for F-bomb's sake

The current FCC case [PDF] before the U.S. Supreme Court presents a fascinating dilemma for the judges: how do you respectfully discuss the legality of profane words in the nation's highest court? And for reporters: how do you report on the specifics of the case? It seems decisions vary across publications: NYT, Washington Post (reg req), LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Slate, The Atlantic, Bloomberg, AP, McClatchy. As for the judges themselves, they opted to allow only substitute terms. PDF transcript with word count at bottom. Background.
posted by Tehanu on Nov 6, 2008 - 26 comments

The Supreme Court and America’s international relations

When Judges Make Foreign Policy. "In a globalized, post-9/11 age, decisions made by the Supreme Court are increasingly shaping America's international relations. When the next justice is appointed, our place in the world may well hang in the balance."
posted by homunculus on Sep 29, 2008 - 11 comments

Permission to approach the buffet?

Learned handmade plates. For all your law-themed collectible plate needs. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jun 10, 2008 - 12 comments

SCOTUS tells the ICJ to go hang

On March 25, the Supreme Court held (pdf) that rulings by the International Court of Justice are essentially not binding upon state courts. This paves the way for Texas to execute one Jose Ernesto Medellin for the rape and murder of two teenage girls. [more inside]
posted by valkyryn on Mar 31, 2008 - 59 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

Catherine Roraback

Catherine Roraback was the only woman in her class at Yale Law School. She was a founder of the Connecticut ACLU, and a president of the National Lawyers Guild. During her long career she defended labor organizers, immigrants, civil rights organizers, Black Panthers, and maybe most famously, Estelle Griswold before the United States Supreme Court in the case that legalized the distribution of birth control. She died this week at age 87. [more inside]
posted by serazin on Oct 24, 2007 - 19 comments

New Supreme Court Opinions

A very big day for the Supreme Court. In Morse v. Fredrick, the Court ruled that a school could suspend a child for holding up a "Bong HiTs for Jesus" banner. (Previous post here). In Hein v. Freedom from Religion, the Court held that taxpayers lacked standing to challenged Faith Based Initiatives (previous discussions). In Wilke v. Robbins, the Court held that land owners do not have Bivens claims if the federal government harasses landowners for easements. In FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, the Court held that the portion of the campaign finance law which had blackout periods before elections on issue advocacy advertising was an unconstitutional restriction of speech (other). This Thursday, the Justices will deliver their last opinions of the term, including a death penalty case and the school assignment cases. (Opinions are .pdfs)
posted by dios on Jun 25, 2007 - 224 comments

Is that Constitution still living? Slap it a few times to make sure.

"Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so. So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes. ... I don't care about holding people. I really don't." Justice Scalia on 24 and torture. 24 and torture previously.
posted by ibmcginty on Jun 19, 2007 - 94 comments

Poverty and the right to council

In 2005, the Supreme Court of British Columbia decided that taxing the legal services of the poor "constitutes indirect taxation and is a tax on justice contrary to the Magna Carta and the Rule of Law." Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the decision, rejecting "the respondent’s contention that there is a broad general right to legal counsel as an aspect of, or precondition to, the rule of law." The case was largely the initiative of Dugald Christie, a Vancouver lawyer and political activist who devoted his life to the cause of improving access to the legal system, before dying on a cross-Canada bicycling fundraiser ten months ago. He is well remembered by lawyers and cyclists.
posted by sindark on May 26, 2007 - 47 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

“I think it’s bad, long-term, if people identify the rule of law with how individual justices vote.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, decrying “the personalization of judicial politics,” describes his efforts to increase comity on the Supreme Court and to decide more cases unanimously. In Roberts' first term as chief justice, “while a relatively large number of the Court’s decisions” were unanimous, “several important, closely divided cases” were decided by 5-4 votes, with Roberts joining the more conservative justices.
posted by ibmcginty on Jan 16, 2007 - 17 comments

The Limits of Free Speech in Schools

From the guy who brought you the Whitewater scandal and the impeachment of President Clinton for lying about oval antics in the Oral Office, a legal push to make the Supreme Court just say no to "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." Ken Starr's petition to the Court [PDF] makes clear that Starr believes this is no laughing matter, but a chance for the Court to make a landmark ruling that will give school adminstrators the power to limit student speech: "This case presents the Court with a much-needed opportunity to resolve a sharp conflict among federal courts (and to eliminate confusion on the part of school boards, administrators, teachers, and students) over whether the First Amendment permits regulation of student speech when such speech is advocating or making light of illegal substances."
posted by digaman on Aug 28, 2006 - 131 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

Please don’t let the cops in the house while I’m at the store.

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court held in a 5-3 decision (.pdf) that police may not search a home if any inhabitant of the home is present and objects to the search, even if another inhabitant consents. The Court drew what it acknowledged is a “fine line” – if a co-inhabitant is at the door and objects, the police can’t enter; but if the co-inhabitant is somewhere else – even in a nearby police car – and has no opportunity to object, then police don’t need his or her consent. Chief Justice Roberts issued his first written dissent, blasting the majority’s “random” and “arbitrary” rule and suggesting that the ability of police to respond to domestic violence threats could be compromised. The zingers in the footnotes may reveal “strains behind the surface placidity and collegiality of the young Roberts court.”
posted by brain_drain on Mar 23, 2006 - 88 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

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

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

Alito's First Vote

Alito's First Vote. In his first significant act on the Supreme Court, Justice Alito splits with his conservative colleagues, and votes to refuse to let Missouri execute a death-row inmate contesting lethal injection. You can read the (very short) order on page four of yesterday's order sheet [pdf]. More commentary at SCOTUSblog, and discussion of Alito's approach to the death penalty is available at Sentencing Law & Policy.
posted by monju_bosatsu on Feb 2, 2006 - 38 comments

Grokster shuts down

Grokster shuts down after their Supreme Court defeat [pdf] this summer, Grokster has chosen to settle its case with MGM et al., admit to wrongdoing, and stop distributing its software. Their website now displays the message: "There are legal services for downloading music and movies. This service is not one of them.". Another victoy for Hollywood in the intellectual property war. Who's next?
posted by falconred on Nov 7, 2005 - 32 comments

free at las

“Matthew Limon, the gay man at the center of a Kansas law struck down by the state Supreme Court, was freed late Thursday night, but his ordeal may not be over.
posted by halekon on Nov 4, 2005 - 67 comments

Bush names Harriet Miers to Supreme Court

Bush nominates Harriet Miers Bush has nominated Harriet Miers to replace Justice O'Connor. The first woman elected to the Texas Bar, she was Bush's personal attorney in Texas, and has served as Counsel to the President since Feb, 2005.

Washington Post
Google News search
SCOTUS Blog
posted by gleenyc on Oct 3, 2005 - 189 comments

Howard Dean Again Ratchets up Anti-Bush Rhetoric.

Howard Dean Again Ratchets up Anti-Bush Rhetoric, this time blaming the President's right-wing supreme court for the recent Kelo ruling. These comments strike some as confusing, seeing as how none of the justices at the time were appointed by the President, and 3 of the dissenters are considered to be the most conservative members on the bench.
posted by dsquid on Jul 31, 2005 - 73 comments

at least it's not Luttig?

the Supreme Court Short List --read it and weep, or not. CNN is already reporting it's John Roberts, and not Edith Clements. Bush announces at 9pm est. Roberts worked for both Reagan and Bush 1, btw.
posted by amberglow on Jul 19, 2005 - 185 comments

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