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


Colorado has legalized marijuana. Undoubtedly, some of the out-of-staters who cross the border to purchase marijuana will take it back with them when they leave. This causes headaches for neighboring states that do not wish to legalize marijuana -- all of Colorado's neighboring states, to be exact.

That is what the Nebraska and Oklahoma v. Colorado lawsuit is about. Two states that barely border Colorado filed suit in the Supreme Court of the United States on Thursday. (Yay, a case of original state v. state jurisdiction that isn't a mind-numbingly boring water dispute!) They somehow hope that the Supreme Court will allow them to dictate what the law should be in a neighboring state by making a federalism argument -- a creative approach that seems unlikely to work.

When can a police officer's mistake of law be overlooked in a motion to suppress? Whenever it's a reasonable mistake, Chief Justice John Roberts explained in an 8-1 decision in Heien v. North Carolina.

A county sheriff's deputy pulled Nicholas Heien over for having one brake light out. This traffic stop for an equipment violation, of course, yielded cocaine (like these cases often do). On appeal, Heien argued that the deputy lacked reasonable suspicion for the stop because the North Carolina statute in question doesn't require that a car have two working brake lights.

The U.S. Supreme Court released its latest orders list Friday, granting certiorari in four cases. And unlike the typical list of snoozers, this list contained a case of national importance: Toca v. Louisiana.

Toca is all about clarifying the Court's Miller v. Alabama decision -- the one from 2012 where the Court declared that mandatory minimum life sentences for juvenile offenders were cruel and unusual under the Eighth Amendment. Since then, federal and state courts and legislatures have split over whether that decision applied retroactively to past convictions (and therefore required resentencing).

Besides that massive case, the court granted three other petitions: two bankruptcy cases and a reexamination of patent royalty precedent.

What happens in the juror room stays in the juror room (unless it's a mock trial and you get to watch hidden cameras and the foreperson who is a lawyer in real life declares himself as such and misstates the law, causing you to lose your graded mock trial final -- sorry, I'm still bitter).

Gregory Warger was riding his motorcycle when Randy Shauers clipped him. Fault was at issue, as was the proper measure of damages, but in the end, the jury sided with Shauers. Warger, after losing a leg in the accident, got nothing.

But then a spark of hope emerged: It turns out the foreperson had lied during voir dire when she was asked if there was any reason why she could not award damages. During deliberations, she told her fellow jurors that her daughter had been at fault in an accident and a lawsuit would have ruined her daughter's life. Someone leaked this to the lawyers and signed an affidavit. Warger wanted a new trial.

Too bad.

Raise your hand if you saw this coming.

Contracted employees, leaving an Amazon warehouse, have to go through security screenings. They sued for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The district court dismissed their lawsuit, but the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding (contrary to every other circuit court that has considered the issue) that post-shift activities that would ordinarily be classified as noncompensable postliminary activities are compensable as integral and indispensable to an employee's principal activities if the post-shift activities are necessary to the principal work and performed for the employer's benefit.

Not only was this a Ninth Circuit opinion (REVERSE) and contrary to the other circuits' holdings (REVERSE), but the issue is clearly controlled by the Portal-to-Portal Act, which was passed in response to a 1944 Supreme Court holding that was about as broad as the Ninth Circuit's and nearly bankrupted a number of American industries.

Except for oral arguments and the occasional back-page opinion attached to the order list, it's been a quiet week at the Supreme Court.

On December 1, the Court heard oral arguments in U.S. v. Elonis, the "Facebook threats" case. Last week, the Court heard another one of its more polemical cases, about whether UPS broke the law by not giving lighter assignments to pregnant employees, even though it had done so for injured employees.

Here are some other snippets from this week's Supreme Court news.

Happy Friday y'all! Today's breaking news out of the Supreme Court involves grants in three cases -- two from Texas and one from Louisiana. The first case, and the more important one in my opinion, is the First Amendment license plate case that we've covered previously -- the state of Texas is denying requests for Confederate flag vanity plates.

Also from Texas, the Court will take on patent issues once again in a spat over Cisco's Wi-Fi products.

Finally, in a death penalty case out of Louisiana, the Court will have the opportunity to flesh out their holding from Atkins v. Virginia. More specifically, do courts have to hold a separate hearing regarding mental disability and competency to be executed? And do they have to cover the tab for evaluations?

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Elonis, ballyhooed as the "Facebook threats" case or the "rap lyrics" case. Commentators have proclaimed that this case will determine the fate of free speech on the Internet.

But this is really a simple case of criminal threats that just happened to be made on the Internet.

The Supreme Court often appends opinions related to prisoner litigation to the end of its semi-weekly order list. Generally, if the Court is going to deny a cert. petition to a prisoner on habeas or direct appeal, it summarily does so in the order list, but if an issue is important enough, one or more members of the Court will address it in an opinion or statement.

Today's statement, issued by Justice Kagan, and joined by Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor in a cert. denial to Patrick Henry Joseph v. United States, calls into question an Eleventh Circuit appellate procedure.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is resting comfortably and recovering after undergoing emergency heart surgery earlier today. Last night, during one of her legendary workouts with her personal trainer, she experienced discomfort and was taken to the hospital. This morning, she had a stent put in to alleviate blockage in her right coronary artery. The two-time cancer survivor and leader of the liberal wing of the court is expected to be released in the next 48 hours, reports the Chicago Tribune.

From all of us here at FindLaw, we wish her a speedy and comfortable recovery.