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April 2015 Archives

Glossip v. Gross Oral Arguments: How Painful Is 'Painful'?

They're just gluttons for punishment, aren't they? After two and a half hours of arguments yesterday on the topic of same-sex marriage, the justices today opted for some lighter fare: the death penalty.

Richard Glossip, along with two other Oklahoma inmates, contends that the three-drug cocktail that state uses for lethal injections violates the Eighth Amendment.

Will We Get a Definitive Answer to the Same-Sex Marriage Question?

Only a few hours ago, the Court concluded a marathon two-and-a-half hours of oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the consolidated same-sex marriage cases that undoubtedly form the basis of the big civil rights decision of our time.

The Court divided the arguments according to the two questions presented: First, whether the same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, and second, whether Ohio's refusal to acknowledge an out-of-state same sex marriage violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause.

Oral Arguments for the Week of April 27: What to Watch For

This week is The Big One. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the caption that will be forever attached to the definitive (we hope) same-sex marriage cases.

That's not all that's happening, though. Though it will devote a full day (two hours) of arguments to the four same-sex marriage cases from the Sixth Circuit, it will also hear a case about lethal injection on Wednesday. Here's what you should keep an eye out for this week.

Drug Dog Search Prolonged Traffic Stop, Says SCOTUS

Using a drug-sniffing dog in a completed traffic stop, in the absence of any reasonable suspicion to do so, is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday in a 6-3 opinion.

Officer Morgan Struble pulled Dennys Rodriguez over for veering onto the shoulder, then jerking back onto the road. Rodriguez had a valid driver's license and no criminal history. After writing Rodriguez a warning ticket, Struble asked for permission to walk his dog around Rodriguez's car. It wasn't actually a question, as Struble did so even after Rodriguez said no. After two passes around the car, the dog alerted to drugs, and indeed, a search of the car revealed methamphetamine.

Rajat Gupta's Cert. Petition on Insider Trading Conviction Denied

Buried among the dozens of denials of petitions for writs of certiorari was this one: docket number 14-534, Rajat K. Gupta v. United States. It appears to be the end of the road for Gupta, a former Goldman Sachs director convicted for insider trading in hedge funds.

SCOTUS Oral Argument Preview: Week of April 20, 2015

Next week is the calm before the storm. April 28 is the day that Court watchers are waiting for -- the day when the Court hears oral two hours of oral arguments in the four consolidated same-sex marriage cases from the Sixth Circuit.

In the meantime, you'll have to content yourself with some criminal statutes and ... California raisins?

A Taste of the Many Amicus Briefs in the Same-Sex Marriage Case

The same-sex marriage cases, known to posterity as DeBoer v. Synder, may very well be the biggest civil rights decision of our generation. As such, everyone wants to put their two cents into what will undoubtedly become an historic opinion.

Lots of people want in on the action. Lots. As of April 3, one hundred and thirty-seven individuals, organizations, and states have filed amicus briefs in support of one side, or neither side.

Here's a brief round-up of just some of these 137 briefs.

Former U. Va. Student Is Petitioning Supreme Court

Former University of Virginia lacrosse player George Huguely V is taking his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2012 for beating his ex-girlfriend, also a lacrosse player, to death.

As is fitting for his station in life (he grew up in a 1.5-acre estate and attended elite private schools), Huguely is represented by none other than former solicitor general Paul Clement from the firm of Bancroft, PLLC in Washington, D.C.

Beyond Ruth Bader Ginger: Other Justices' Ice Creams

An online petition is under way to goad Ben and Jerry's into making a Ruth Bader Ginsburg-themed ice cream. Of course, all the petition says is that the flavor will be "Ruth Bader Ginger," but doesn't go into the details of what would be in such an ice cream.

Probably something to do with gingerbread pieces. This got us to thinking: Why not an ice cream for other Supreme Court justices?

An ankle bracelet is more than a fashion statement: it's a search. At least according to the Supreme Court's holding in Grady v. North Carolina, which found that a state conducts a Fourth Amendment search when it affixes a device to an individual's body, sans consent, for the purposes of monitoring them.

The case involves Torrey Grady, a "recidivist sex offender" who was ordered to wear a tracking device at all times, much to his dislike. Grady's cert. petition asked the Court to decide whether the monitoring bracelet was an unconstitutional search, in violation of the offender's Fourth Amendment rights. The Court didn't go that far, however, content on ruling on the search issue alone.

Citizens United Overruled, Court Announces Via New Cameras

In what court watchers called an "unexpected move," Chief Justice John Roberts announced this morning that a majority of the Supreme Court had voted sua sponte at a private conference yesterday to overturn its 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which held that corporations had a First Amendment right to spend as much as they wanted during elections.

"After five years of debates, it has become clear that our earlier position was untenable and led to both corruption and the appearance of corruption," Roberts said from the bench, echoing the language of Justice Kennedy's opinion in that case.