Decided - The FindLaw Noteworthy Decisions and Settlements Blog

June 2013 Archives

Supreme Court: Prop 8 Supporters Have No Standing to Sue

In an emotional ruling for Californians on Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Proposition 8 proponents for lack of standing, clearing the way for gay marriages to resume in California.

In an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court in Hollingsworth v. Perry held that the concerned activists who stepped in to defend Prop 8 when state officials declined to do so did not have legal authority to bring the case, reports The Huffington Post.

While some say this ruling was decided on a technicality, it has real practical consequences for Californians who want to marry.

Supreme Court: DOMA Fails on Equal Protection

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down Section 3 of DOMA on equal protection grounds in a landmark decision that will allow legally married gay couples to receive federal marriage benefits.

The Court's decision Wednesday in United States v. Windsor dealt with a provision in the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that prevented legally married gay couples from collecting federal marriage benefits.

That included refunds for federal estate taxes, which affected same-sex spouses like plaintiff Edie Windsor, reports The Huffington Post.

For Ariz., Scalia Offers Alternate Path Toward Proof of Citizenship

While Justice Antonin Scalia is known as an outspoken conservative, he did not approve of Arizona's law requiring proof of citizenship for voters. The opinion he penned for the U.S. Supreme Court, however, suggests a potential avenue for Arizona to get its way.

In a 7-2 ruling, the Court struck down an Arizona voter-registration provision enacted by voters in 2004, because it is pre-empted by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), a federal law passed in 1993.

The NVRA requires voters to simply check a box on a form, swearing by penalty of perjury that they're citizens of the United States. But Arizona's law went far beyond this.

Human Genes Can't Be Patented, Supreme Court Rules

In a first of its kind ruling on human gene patents, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided that synthetically produced genetic material can be patented, but naturally occurring DNA extracted from the human body cannot, Reuters reports.

The Court's decision is a partial victory to biotechnology company Myriad Genetics Inc., which holds the patents in question.

But since the Court ruled that isolated human genes may not be patented, the rights group that challenged the patents came away with a win too.

NSA Warrantless Wiretapping Lawsuit's Dismissal Affirmed

A 2007 lawsuit challenging the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program will not be revived, as the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the suit's dismissal on Monday.

This legal action began years before the recent NSA leaks concerning Verizon phone records and the PRISM project. But it shows just how difficult it may be to stop NSA surveillance via lawsuits.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) has been fighting for nearly seven years to try to have the NSA's Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP), which ended in 2007, labeled as unconstitutional.

A 10-year-old girl is now eligible for an adult organ transplant, thanks to a federal judge's ruling this week. The ruling may spur changes in deciding who gets on the organ-transplant list.

Sarah Murnaghan of Pennsylvania, who has end-stage cystic fibrosis, was denied eligibility to be placed on a list of those waiting for adult organs. Because she was not 12 years old -- the cutoff age for the adult list -- she had to be placed on a list for pediatric donors, which are far more rare than adults.

But that changed after the judge's ruling on Wednesday.

SCOTUS: No Warrant Needed for DNA Swab of Arrestee

The Supreme Court came down on the side of warrantless DNA swabs on Monday, stating in a 5-4 majority that they did not violate a defendant’s 4th Amendment rights.

In a somewhat surprising split, the Maryland v. King majority stated the Maryland law DNA sampling law did not violate convicted rapist Alonzo Jay King’s rights by authorizing police to take a DNA sample from King after arrest, reports Reuters.

How does this ruling on DNA swabs sit with the Court’s prior rulings on collecting physical evidence from defendants?