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

May 2014 Archives

SCOTUS's Productive Weekend Leads to Four New Opinions

Memorial Day weekend: a time for remembrance, barbequing with family, and perhaps, for the Supreme Court to catch up on backlogged business?

This morning, the Court released decisions in four pending cases, running the gamut of capital punishment for the intellectually disabled, excessive force in police chase shootings, free speech of presidential protestors, and Indian gaming and sovereignty.

It's a mixed bag, and a lot of interesting reading.

SCOTUS Summer Reading List: After June, What Else You Going to Do?

Ready for June? With only a few more weeks left in this Supreme Court term, there's going to be plenty of reading on the menu before summer break.

But once the June term ends, Supreme Court junkies, after a few weeks of detoxing, are going to be seeking their next fix. Fortunately, there are plenty of books, old and new, to keep you busy until the fall.

Grant of the Week: Air Marshal Whistleblower Meets DHS Regs

You've heard of Robert MacLean, right? If not, you haven't been paying attention to our Federal Circuit blog. (We'll give you a moment to bookmark it.)

In 2003, the Transportation and Security Administration decided to pull marshals from long-distance flights, even though the agency had recently learned of a credible threat of a potential hijacking plot. MacLean protested the move through the proper channels, but when his protests were ignored, he leaked the information to the press. After a second leak led to his unmasking, he was fired for disclosing sensitive security information.

SCOTUS: Statutory Time Limits Suffice, No Laches in Copyright

Twenty-nine years after the film about Jake LaMotta's life was released, the daughter of Frank P. Petrella, who penned two screenplays and co-authored a book about the late boxer, brought suit, alleging copyright infringement.

Twenty-nine years. In that time, witnesses died, alleged agreements disappeared, the transferred rights to the original works were renewed by Pamela Petrella, and MGM Grand invested heavily in the movie, signing distribution agreements with online and broadcast video providers.

The Supreme Court is Partisan. Should We Care?

The topic of the week, thanks to The New York Times and the Supreme Court's lack of output this week, is the partisan polarization of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Republican appointees are voting conservatively, Democratic appointees are voting liberally, and my goodness, it's all just a little too predictable.

Case in point: five Republican appointees voted in favor of the Republican National Committee in last month's campaign finance decision. #conspiracy

Who Are the Worst Supreme Court Justices of All Time?

How does one define failure as a jurist? Is it an inability to perform one's work without letting personal biases interfere? How about intellectual limitations or poor writing ability? Does an invisible career count?

There are plenty of lists of "worst U.S. Supreme Court decisions" out there, but what about the minds behind those terrible decisions? Here are our suggestions for the worst of all time, with one small caveat: We're leaving current justices off the list, because of possible partisan bias, the recency effect, and the notion that a person's legacy isn't cemented until it's history.

Mich. Cites SCOTUS Affirmative Action Ruling in Gay Marriage Appeal

This is almost genius. Almost.

To date, arguments in favor of state bans on gay marriage have fallen flat in every court that has considered the matter. And with dozens of pending cases nationwide, we though we'd heard every conceivable argument.

And then Schuette happened (both the Affirmative Action case and the Michigan Attorney General).

Is Sotomayor 'Finding Her Voice' or Alienating Her Colleagues?

We've noted a possible rift between Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Sonia Sotomayor before. The two justices, who both fall on the left end of the ideological spectrum, have, in the past, traded barbs in footnotes over Sotomayor's interpretation of past cases and the trial record. Justice Alito has also called her out in the past.

Then, in fifty-eight pages of dissent, parts of which were read aloud while the other justices cringed, she poked a few more justices, two of whom responded in their opinions in Schuette. The New York Times says that after nearly five years on the Court, she's finally found her voice, but that voice already seems to be grating on her colleagues.

Legislative Prayer Is Still OK in Nearly All Cases

Not much to see here folks.

In 1983, in Marsh v. Chambers, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Nebraska Legislature's invocations from a paid Presbyterian minister were part of a long history of prayer in the legislature, and thus did not violate the Establishment Clause. Justice Anthony Kennedy, in today's opinion in Town of Greece v. Galloway, reaffirmed that holding, and reiterated much of that history, including the occasional sectarian language employed in Nebraska, as well as in prayers delivered in Congress (from a still federally paid chaplain) during our founders' time.

What's the rule? The same as it has been since 1983: Legislative prayer is Constitutional because it is a historical tradition.

The Justice Stevens 'Retirement' Tour Makes a Stop in Congress

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is old. That's not meant as an insult, it's just a fact -- a fact that makes his current pace all the more impressive. Here are a few fun facts about the retired justice:

Most people would take it easy, especially if they worked through their late eighties, but Justice Stevens, nearly four years later, and barely a week past his 94th birthday, is still ever present in the headlines. Kudos, for he's accomplished more in the last four years than most of us will in a lifetime.