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

May 2015 Archives

Some Opinions We Missed, and a Fond Farewell

Last week, amid lofty opinions about excessive force and the dormant commerce clause, we did not have a chance to report on some of the more work-a-day cases the Supreme Court decided.

These decisions -- all of which were unanimous -- don't implicate constitutional principles necessarily, and aren't as contentious as some of the Court's other cases, but hey, they're important, too.

Also Decided at SCOTUS: Bankruptcy and Whistleblowing

What else happened at the Supreme Court this week? As we reported yesterday, a case that's going to be of significance to patent trolls and the people who fight against them.

But there were two other opinions released yesterday, dealing with more the more prosaic topics of bankruptcy and whistleblowing. ("Patents aren't prosaic?" you're asking. The answer is "no." They're very exciting.)

So, let's see what else the Court did to put your tax dollars to work.

Belief in Patent's Validity Not a Defense to Inducing Infringement

The end-of-term madness continues as the Supreme Court today issued four new opinions, dealing with bankruptcy, bankruptcy, whistleblowing, and patents. It's this last case that concerns us today.

Commil USA has a patent on a particular method of extending the range of wireless networks. It sued Cisco Systems, claiming infringement of its patent in Cisco's network equipment. Commil also claimed that Cisco induced others to infringe its patent by selling the network equipment containing the allegedly infringing technology.

The Court is back from its two week recess and the Justices sure did all their homework over the break, dropping six new decisions on Monday. Tomorrow, they'll sit down and decide what workload to pick up next.

One of the petitions they'll consider, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, could have a far reaching impact on affirmative action in education. It would also give the Court a chance to revisit its 2013 ruling in the case, one which was largely criticized for ducking the suit's central issue.

Two New Opinions: Excessive Force and Dormant Commerce Clause

Last week, we asked for opinions from the Supreme Court and we got them -- six of them, in fact -- which may portend more multi-opinion days in the weeks to come.

Today's opinions were fairly prosaic (by which we mean "bankruptcy"), but a few stood out as fairly important.

What We Expect From the Supreme Court Next Week

The Supreme Court has been quiet since May 4, when it issued a fairly prosaic opinion in Bullard v. Blue Hills Bank, concluding that an order denying a proposed bankruptcy repayment plan isn't a final, appealable order.

Monday, the Court will be in session, but it won't be entertaining oral arguments. Instead, it will probably announce new opinions and new cert. grants (or denials) for cases to be heard next term. Here's what we think is in store.

3 Cases to Watch for the Supreme Court's Next Term

The Supreme Court's October 2014 term is winding down. There will be no more oral arguments before the Court goes on summer vacation at the end of June, though there is still plenty of controversy as 35 cases are as-yet undecided. Among these are same-sex marriage, the Affordable Care Act, and Confederate license plates.

It's never too late to think about the next term, though. The Court has already granted cert. to several cases that it will hear when it reconvenes this October. Here are some highlights.

Same-Sex Marriage, 'Draw Muhammad,' and the First Amendment

The Supreme Court's oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges and the recent shootings at the "Draw Muhammad" contest in Texas have led to some pretty interesting theories about how the Constitution works.

In both cases, the interplay of religious liberty, free speech, and the rights of others concern some people out in the world who are afraid of same-sex marriage or of events that are designed to make people angry, like the Draw Muhammad contest. In both cases, however, the fear that the government can bring its hammer down on free expression is unwarranted.

SCOTUS Takes Electricity Regulation Case

In the waning month or two left in the Court's October 2014 term, it issued an order granting cert. in a consolidated case that stands to impact electricity regulation nationwide.

The case was brought by the Electric Power Supply Association, a trade group representing several electric companies and regional electricity supply associations throughout the country.

5 Surprisingly Undecided Cases from This Term

With the arrival of May comes the disheartening realization that there are going to be no more oral arguments for the October 2014 Term. For the next two months, the justices and their clerks will spend each day busily writing opinions in the 36 outstanding cases from this term.

Going through the list, we were kind of shocked to learn which high-profile cases hadn't been decided yet. Obviously, opinions from March and April cases haven't arrived, but what about these guys, which are still out there past the average 92-day decision period for cases this term?

In Williams-Yulee, a Good Outcome, But Some Bad Stuff, Too

The 5-4 opinion in Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar was a bit of a surprise. Chief Justice Roberts sided with the Court's four liberals to conclude that a state canon of judicial ethics prohibiting judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign donations was constitutional.

What made more sense is that Justice Kennedy, the author of the Court's opinion in Citizens United v. FEC, dissented from this judgment. It's clear that Roberts made the right call, but his reasoning leaves something to be desired, and indeed, carries some weighty implications for future free speech decisions.