U.S. Supreme Court: January 2010 Archives
U.S. Supreme Court - The FindLaw U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Summaries Blog

January 2010 Archives

Citizens United v. FEC, No. 08-205

The Court rules that the government may regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosure requirements, but it may not suppress that speech altogether. Specifically, in an action brought by a nonprofit corporation, the makers of a documentary critical of Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy, challenging the constitutionality of a federal law prohibiting corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds to make independent expenditures for speech that was an "electioneering communication" or for speech that expressly advocated the election or defeat of a candidate, a denial of a preliminary injunction for plaintiff is reversed in part where Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 652 (1990), is overruled, and thus provides no basis for allowing the government to limit corporate independent expenditures. Hence, the part of McConnell v. Federal Election Comm'n, 540 U.S. 93 (2007), that upheld the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act section 203's extension of section 441b's restrictions on independent corporate expenditures is also overruled. However, the order is affirmed in part where BCRA sections 201 and 311 were valid as applied to the ads for the documentary and to the movie itself because disclaimer and disclosure requirements may burden the ability to speak, but they impose no ceiling on campaign-related activities, or prevent anyone from speaking.

Read Citizens United v. FEC, No. 08-205

Appellate Information

Argued March 24, 2009

Reargued September 9, 2009

Decided January 21, 2010

Judges

Opinion by Justice Kennedy

Concurrence by Chief Justice Roberts

Concurrence by Justice Scalia

Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Justice Stevens

Kucana v. Holder, No. 08-911

| 1 TrackBack

In a petition for review of the BIA's denial of petitioner's motion to reopen his removal proceedings, the court of appeals' denial of the petition is reversed where 8 U.S.C. section 1252(a)(2)(B)'s proscription of judicial review applies only to Attorney General determinations made discretionary by statute, not to determinations declared discretionary by the Attorney General himself through regulation.

Read Kucana v. Holder, No. 08-911

Appellate Information

Argued November 10, 2009

Decided January 20, 2010

Judges

Opinion by Justice Ginsburg

Concurrence by Justice Alito

S. Carolina v. N. Carolina, No. 138

In an original jurisdiction action by South Carolina seeking an equitable apportionment with North Carolina of the Catawba River's waters, the special master's grant of three nonparties' motions to intervene is affirmed in part as to two of them where: 1) the Catawba River Water Supply Project was properly permitted to intervene because it showed a compelling interest in protecting the viability of its operations, which were premised on a fine balance between the joint venture's two participating counties; and 2) Duke Energy was also properly allowed to intervene because it was likely that any equitable apportionment of the river would need to take into account the amount of water that Duke Energy needed to sustain its operations.  However, the order is reversed in part where the interest of Charlotte, North Carolina was not sufficiently unique and would be properly represented by North Carolina.

Read S. Carolina v. N. Carolina, No. 138

Appellate Information

Argued October 13, 2009

Decided January 20, 2010

Judges

Opinion by Justice Alito

Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Chief Justice Roberts

Wood v. Allen, No. 08-9156

In capital habeas proceedings, a court of appeals' reversal of a grant of petitioner's petition is affirmed where a state court's conclusion that defense counsel made a strategic decision not to pursue or present evidence of petitioner's mental deficiencies was not an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceedings.

Read Wood v. Allen, No. 08-9156

Appellate Information

Argued November 4, 2009

Decided January 20, 2010

Judges

Opinion by Justice Sotomayor

Dissent by Justice Stevens

Presley v. Georgia, No. 09-5270

In a drug trafficking prosecution, the state supreme court's affirmance of defendant's conviction is reversed where the trial court failed to consider all reasonable alternatives to closure when it excluded defendant's uncle from the voir dire proceedings, in violation of defendant's Sixth Amendment right to a public trial.

Read Presley v. Georgia, No. 09-5270

Appellate Information

Filed January 19, 2010

Judges

Per Curiam

Dissent by Justice Thomas

Wellons v. Hall, No. 09-5731

In a capital habeas matter, the petition for certiorari is granted and the court of appeals' order is vacated and remanded where the court of appeals incorrectly held that the habeas petition, which claimed that petitioner was denied discovery into the issue of whether there had been improper communications between the judge and jury, was procedurally barred based on an insufficient record, contrary to Cone v. Bell, 556 U.S. ___ (2009).

Read Wellons v. Hall, No. 09-5731

Appellate Information

Filed January 19, 2010

Judges

Per Curiam

Dissent by Justice Scalia

Dissent by Justice Alito

Hollingsworth v. Perry, No. 09A648

In defendant-intervenors' application for a stay of an order of the district court in the California Proposition 8 trial permitting the trial to be broadcast live via streaming audio and video to a number of federal courthouses around the country, the stay is granted where the district court failed to give appropriate public notice and an opportunity for comment before modifying a local rule to permit the broadcast, as required by 28 U.S.C. section 2071(b).

Read Hollingsworth v. Perry, No. 09A648

Appellate Information

Filed January 13, 2010

Judges

Per Curiam

Dissent by Justice Breyer

NRG Power Mktg., LLC v. Maine Pub. Utils. Comm., No. 08-674

In a petition for review of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) approval of a settlement agreement establishing rate-setting mechanisms for the sale of energy capacity, circuit court's partial grant of the petition is reversed where: 1) the Mobile-Sierra presumption does not depend on the identity of the complainant who seeks FERC investigation, and the presumption is not limited to challenges to contract rates brought by contracting parties; and 2) contrary to the ruling below, the Mobile-Sierra presumption applies when a rate challenge is brought by a non-contracting third party.

Read NRG Power Mktg., LLC v. Maine Pub. Utils. Comm., No. 08-674

Appellate Information

Filed January 13, 2010

Judges

Opinion by Justice Ginsburg

Dissent by Justice Stevens

Smith v. Spisak, No. 08-724

In capital habeas proceedings, a grant of petitioner's habeas petition is reversed where a state court's rejection of claimed errors regarding jury instructions and verdict forms, as well as ineffective assistance of counsel, was not contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law as: 1) the jury instructions and forms in the penalty phase made clear that, to recommend a death sentence, the jury had to find unanimously that each of the aggravating factors outweighed any mitigating circumstances, but they did not say that the jury had to determine the existence of each individual mitigating factor unanimously; and 2) even assuming that defense counsel's closing argument was inadequate in the respects claimed by petitioner, there was no reasonable probability that a better closing argument without such defects would have made a significant difference.

Read Smith v. Spisak, No. 08-724

Appellate Information

Argued October 13, 2009

Decided January 12, 2010

Judges

Opinion by Justice Breyer

Concurrence by Justice Stevens

McDaniel v. Brown, No. 08-559

In habeas proceedings arising from a rape conviction, a circuit court of appeals' order affirming the grant of petitioner's habeas petition is reversed and remanded where: 1) the court of appeals' analysis failed to preserve the factfinder's role as weigher of the evidence by reviewing all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, and it erred in finding a state court's resolution of petitioner's claim to be objectively unreasonable; and 2) petitioner forfeited his claim that a prosecution expert incorrectly described the statistical implications of certain DNA evidence.

Read McDaniel v. Brown, No. 08-559

Appellate Information

Filed January 11, 2010

Judges

Per Curiam

Concurrence by Justice Thomas