The Supreme Court has been busy this week, disposing of cases and dispensing decisions.
The Nine followed up yesterday's decisions in CompuCredit Corp. v. Greenwood, Gonzalez v. Thaler, Minneci v. Pollard, and Smith v. Cain with three more 2012 Supreme Court opinions.
Here's a quick review of the most-recently decided issues:
- Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC. The Supreme Court reversed the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in a unanimous decision, finding that the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment bar suits brought on behalf of ministers against their churches, claiming termination in violation of employment discrimination laws. As the teacher who brought the claim against Hosanna-Tabor was a "called" -- read: ordained -- teacher at the school, she fell within the ministerial exception.
- Perry v. New Hampshire. Eyewitness identification is by no means perfect, but the Supreme Court says that it's still up to the jury to decide whether an eyewitness is reliable. In an 8-1 decision, the Court held that the Due Process Clause does not require a preliminary judicial inquiry into the reliability of an eyewitness identification when the identification was not procured under unnecessarily suggestive circumstances arranged by law enforcement.
- Pacific Operators v. Valladolid. In another unanimous decision, the Court held that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act extends the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act coverage to an employee who can establish a substantial nexus between his injury and his employer's extractive operations on the Outer Continental Shelf.
The Court's decision in Perry is particularly frustrating in light of the numerous wrongful convictions secured through eyewitness identification. Justice Ginsburg touched on the issue in her opinion. "We do not doubt either the fallibility or the importance of eyewitness evidence generally ... We have concluded in other contexts, however, that the potential unreliability of a type of evidence does not alone render its introduction at the defendant's trial fundamentally unfair."
- Supreme Court Rejects Special Review of Eyewitness Testimony (Thomson Reuters News & Insight)
- Eyewitness Identification Review: 2011 Supreme Court Cases (FindLaw's Supreme Court blog)
- The Perils of Eyewitness Identification: A Personal Account (FindLaw)