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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments from plaintiffs in four states on the question of whether the Constitution requires a state to allow or recognize gay marriage.

The Court announced today that it was granting petitions appealing a circuit court ruling upholding gay marriage bans in four states: Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan. That decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late last year ended a streak of legal victories for gay marriage advocates.

By agreeing to hear the case, the Supreme Court is set to decide on the constitutionality of gay marriage in not just those four states, but in the country as a whole.

This has been quite a year for breaking legal stories; 2014 has produced some shocking court decisions, grand jury hearings, celebrity deaths, and shady settlements.

Here are the 10 most-viewed breaking legal documents from FindLaw's Courtside blog in 2014:

Oklahoma and Nebraska are suing Colorado over its legalization of marijuana, and the U.S. Supreme Court gets to be the first court to hear it.

The complaint filed Thursday claims that under Colorado's new marijuana scheme, the state has created "a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system" and has allowed the drug to flow into neighboring states. According to The New York Times, law enforcement on the borders of Colorado have complained that marijuana arrests are stretching jail budgets too thin.

What is the legal argument against Colorado's law and why is this issue before the Supreme Court?

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police officers usually need a warrant before they can search an arrested suspect's cellphone.

The 9-0 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts held the right of police to search an arrested suspect at the scene without a warrant does not extend in most circumstances to data held on a cellphone. Still, there are some emergency situations in which a warrantless search would be permitted, the court said.

Ruling on two cases from California and Massachusetts, the justices acknowledged both a right to privacy and a need to investigate crimes. But they came down squarely on the side of privacy rights.

Seeing someone with a cellphone is such a common thing today, that "the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy," Roberts wrote. "We cannot deny that our decision today will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime...Privacy comes at a cost."

California's laws on teacher tenure, layoffs and dismissals deprive students of their constitutional right to an education, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday.

The ruling is a serious defeat for teachers' unions that overturns several California laws that govern the way teachers are hired and fired. 

The 16-page decision (attached below) may set off a slew of legal fights in California and other states, where many education reform advocates are eager to change similar laws.

"There is ... no dispute that there are a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms," Judge Rolf M. Treu wrote. "Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students.

"The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience."

Enforcement of the much awaited ruling in Vergara v. California will be delayed pending an appeal by the lawsuit's defendants, the state and California's two major teachers unions.

Michigan can't block the opening of an off-reservation Indian casino because of a tribe's sovereign immunity, the Supreme Court has ruled.

A divided Court ruled 5-4 that the state could not block the Bay Mills Indian Community's casino about 90 miles south of its reservation. Michigan and 16 other states had urged the Court to allow the casino to be shuttered.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the Court that the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act only allows a state to bring lawsuits challenging casinos operating on Indian lands. But the Bay Mills casino was opened outside the tribe's reservation, Kagan said, placing it outside the law's coverage.

The 5-4 decision divided the Court, but not along traditional ideological lines.

Joining Justice Kagan was Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Kennedy, Breyer, and Sotomayor. Justice Thomas wrote the dissent, joined by Justices Scalia, Ginsburg and Alito.

Kagan noted that Michigan officials have other options for dealing with the casino, such as bringing a lawsuit against individual tribal officials or even prosecuting tribal members under criminal laws.

Supreme Court Upholds Prayer at Town Meetings

The Supreme Court has upheld the long-standing tradition of offering prayers at the start of government meetings, even if those prayers are heavily Christian.

The Court ruled that the town of Greece, New York was free to open its monthly public meetings with a prayer. Two residents, one Jewish and one atheist, claimed that because the prayers were almost always Christian, the practice amounted to government endorsement of a single faith.

The 5-4 ruling (attached below) was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, with the court's conservatives agreeing and its liberals, led by Justice Elena Kagan, dissenting.

Kennedy wrote that "ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define."

In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said the town's practices could not be reconciled "with the First Amendment's promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share of her government."

The Supreme Court last considered the issue of government prayer in 1983, ruling that the Nebraska legislature did not violate the Constitution by opening its sessions with a prayer from a Presbyterian minister.

Texas Gay Marriage Ban is Unconstitutional: Fed. Judge

A Texas law barring same-sex marriage has been struck down and ruled unconstitutional. But Judge Orlando Garcia's decision (attached below) doesn't mean gay marriages can be held in the Lone Star State.

In the latest ruling in the national fight for gay marriage, Judge Garcia placed a stay on the decision, anticipating an appeal by the state. While there is a preliminary injunction on the state's ban, the stay means the ban will remain in effect for now.

"Today's court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent," Garcia held. "Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution."

Is Snowboarding Protected by the Constitution?

Does a ski resort's ban on snowboarding violate the 14th Amendment?

A group of snowboarders believes so. They have sued the Alta Ski Lifts Company, which operates the Alta ski resort in Utah, for banning snowboarders and only allowing skiers on the slopes.

The snowboarders' lawsuit (attached below) claims Alta, which operates on federally owned land, violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

"Discrimination without any rational basis perpetuates inequality by creating, fostering, and encouraging skier-versus-snowboarder attitudes that are hostile and divisive," argues the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.

The lawsuit asks for Alta's snowboard ban to be lifted, and for skiers to be forced to share the mountain. Only a handful of ski resorts ban snowboarders, including Deer Valley in Utah and Mad River Glen in Vermont.

Texas Abortion Law is Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules

Key parts of Texas' new abortion law have been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. The stunning legal ruling (attached below) came Monday, a day before dozens of abortion clinics were set to halt operations.

U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel barred Texas from enforcing two key provisions of abortion restrictions contained in the controversial new law.

Judge Yeakel held that requiring abortion doctors to gain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital was unconstitutional. The provision "does not bear a rational relationship to the legitimate right of the state in preserving and promoting fetal life or a woman's health."

Judge Yeakel also barred Texas from enforcing a provision regulating the dispensing of abortion-inducing drugs for "women for whom surgical abortion is, in the sound medical opinion of their treating physician, a significant health risk."

The judge did, however, allow other parts of the law to stand, including a requirement for one extra office visit.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry promptly announced that state officials will continue efforts to enact the abortion law.

"Today's decision will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life..." Perry said in a statement. "We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans."