The Supreme Court is back in session for its 2012 Term, with several rounds of oral arguments set to take place over the next few months.
As always, a few closely watched cases are getting the most attention. For the justices' fall term, this includes controversies such as warrantless DUI blood tests, university affirmative action, and international human rights.
Here are five Supreme Court cases that could have wide-reaching effects:
- Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum: In a human-rights case getting worldwide attention, Nigerian plaintiffs are accusing a British-Dutch oil company of helping Nigeria's former military ruler carry out violent atrocities in the 1990s. The issue here: Can the foreign plaintiffs sue a foreign company in U.S. courts? The answer may turn on an 18th-century law called the Alien Tort Statute.
- Lozman v. City of Rivera Beach: Is a Florida man's houseboat technically a "vessel" or a "house"? The High Court's decision could turn the tide against the state, which seized the houseboat as a "vessel" under maritime law, despite the fact that the houseboat couldn't move on its own and had to be towed. The outcome of this case could affect floating casinos, hotels, and restaurants nationwide, the Associated Press reports.
- Moncrieffe v. Holder: Selling a small amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor under federal law, but it's an aggravated felony under Georgia law. That's bad news for non-citizens, who can face deportation if convicted of an aggravated felony. The question for the Court: Can a Jamaican immigrant's state-law conviction be the basis for his deportation, when the crime wouldn't be a felony under federal law?
- Fisher v. University of Texas: A state university that uses race as one of many factors in admissions decisions (pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court's Grutter v. Bollinger decision in 2003) is being sued by a student who claims she was denied admission because of her race. After oral arguments next week, the Court's decision in Fisher could once again change the way universities consider race in admissions.
- Missouri v. McNeely: As you probably know, all licensed drivers are deemed to have given implied consent for blood tests if suspected of drunken driving. But what happens if a driver refuses? In a closely watched case, the Court is set to consider whether law-enforcement officers can force DUI suspects to submit to a blood test without consent or a warrant. The decision could affect how DUI blood tests are conducted nationwide.
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- Supreme Court may narrow law in human rights cases (Reuters)
- Top 5 Cases From the Supreme Court's 2011 Term (FindLaw's Decided)
- SCOTUS Releases December Hearing Schedule (FindLaw's U.S. Supreme Court Blog)
- Six Grants and an Unsigned Ruling (FindLaw's U.S. Supreme Court Blog)