U.S. Supreme Court - The FindLaw U.S. Supreme Court News and Information Blog

U.S. Supreme Court - The FindLaw U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Summaries Blog


Cases of statutory interpretation are rarely as sexy as those involving constitutional issues. But King v. Burwell is among the most important cases of this term, and the Supreme Court heard oral arguments today.

If the justices agree with the petitioners, then one of the three legs of the Affordable Care Act -- subsidies for low-income Americans -- would be cut off, effectively neutralizing the ACA itself.

In 2010, Colorado enacted legislation to try and collect some revenue from Internet retailers who have no physical presence in the state but nevertheless sell a lot of stuff to Colorado residents. Called the "Amazon tax" law, the statute requires retailers to tell buyers that they have to pay the state use tax. The retailers also have to send the state tax collector a list of customers who bought more than $500 worth of goods.

A trade group of non-brick-and-mortar retailers, the Direct Marketing Association, sued Colorado in federal court over several issues related to interstate commerce and the dormant commerce clause. But this case isn't even about that. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court determined whether the case could be brought in federal court at all.

After figuring out what a fish is (and is not), then telling us that anyone, not just dentists, can perform teeth-whitening, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a round of contentious cases dealing with unreasonable searches, drawing legislative boundaries, and -- drum roll please! -- the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

Here's a preview of this week's oral arguments:

Teeth whitening may not be "the practice of dentistry." Who knew? On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court declared, 6-3, that the determinations of a state regulatory board can be actionable as antitrust if the board is composed of market participants who are using the power of the state to shut out competition.

The Court's opinion extended the doctrine of state-action antitrust immunity to include state regulatory agencies composed of private market participants. Before this case, it applied only to private bodies granted state regulatory authority, or other private entities effectively engaging in state action.

Destroying a fish isn't a federal crime, the Supreme Court ruled today, in another victory for sanity when it comes to prosecutorial over-charging.

By a surprising 5-4 split, the Court said that the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that prohibit destroying a "tangible object" refer to tangible objects used to record information, not any tangible object at all.

In a fractured opinion authored by Justice Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court sided with Kansas in a battle over water rights in the Republican River Basin.

Kagan, along with the Court's four liberals, signed on to the whole opinion. Chief Justice Roberts agreed, but only to parts I and III. Justice Scalia concurred and dissented separately, and Justice Thomas concurred and dissented in part, joined by Justice Alito, Roberts, and Scalia.

Got all that?

What does it take to get disciplined by the Supreme Court Bar? How about letting your client write the briefs? Back in December, the Court issued an order to attorney Howard Shipley to show cause why he shouldn't be sanctioned for his conduct in connection with a cert. petition in the case Sigram Schindler Beteiligungsgesellschaft MBH v. Lee.

That was a patent case dealing with claim construction, but patent watchers like the website Patently-O thought the petition looked a little weird. In fact, look at the petition for yourself: It's extremely weird and uses a tremendous amount of highly technical language and equations.

The Supreme Court is ready to begin its February oral arguments -- well, in what's left of February, anyway. After two weeks of arguments in January dealing with religious speech, housing discrimination, and whistleblowers, the Court took some time off (while one justice took a nap at an inopportune time).

Now that Justice Ginsburg has had her beauty rest, let's see what's in store for next week.

Same-sex nuptials have taken place in parts of Alabama, after the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 not to stay enforcement of a federal judge's order that the state's gay marriage ban was unconstitutional. The High Court's decision paved the way for same-sex marriages to begin immediately (though some county courts still declined to issue marriage licenses, AL.com reports).

Wait -- I did say "7-2," didn't I? Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, wrote a three-page dissent that Court watchers are saying tips the Court's hand vis-a-vis same sex marriage.

The U.S. Supreme Court will have one fewer case to argue this term, following the release of a Louisiana inmate who's been in prison for almost 30 years.

In 1985, George Toca was convicted of the murder of his best friend during an armed robbery gone wrong. At the time of the murder, which occurred a year earlier, Toca was 17. He was sentenced to life without parole.

Toca's question was whether Miller v. Alabama applied retroactively.