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


Supreme Court to Hear Virginia Redistricting Case

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to look at racial gerrymandering in Virginia again, too late to matter this year and maybe not next year either.

In Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill, the big issue is whether the state's districts must be redrawn to correct racial gerrymandering. But in taking the case, the Supreme Court left open the possibility that Virginia will resolve the issue itself before oral arguments.

Another issue may still make it to the courtroom, however. The justices may want to decide whether the state House of Delegates has standing in the case.

This week, the High Court issued their first opinion of the Fall 2018 term. The case, Mount Lemmon Fire District v. Guido, involved the statutory interpretation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act's 1974 revision which added liability to state and local governments.

At issue was whether that liability existed regardless of the size of the local government, as the ADEA only applies to private employers with 20 or more employees. There is a circuit split as to whether the 20 or more employee requirement applies to state and local governments, or whether the revised statute wholesale included state and local governments as categories covered by the ADEA regardless of size.

In what is being hailed as a victory for net neutrality advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected cert. in the U.S. Telecom Association v. FCC matter.

The case dates back to 2015 and the Obama-era net neutrality policies that were put into place. The telecoms and service providers challenged the law, and failed. And while the Court didn't provide any explanation behind the denial, it's highly likely that the fact that the policies at issue were rescinded by the FCC motivated the justices' decision.

Influence of Law Clerks on SCOTUS -- Same as It Never Was

Every trial lawyer knows the clerk is the most important person in the courtroom -- after the judge, of course.

The clerk stands at the gateway, insulating the judge from the riff-raff while leading worthy lawyers into chambers. The clerk shuts the door; the clerk calls the calendar; the clerk knows the judge.

At the U.S. Supreme Court, the law clerk is even more integral to the process of justice. "How much?" is the question. "Four percent more" is the answer.

In a lonely dissent, Justice Sotomayor explained that she believes her colleagues made a mistake in not taking up the matter of Edmund Zagorski.

Zagorski became the first person to be executed in the electric chair in five years in this country, and that was due to the fact that the lethal injection couldn't be proven to be painless, given the recent troubles we've all seen and read about. In short, while lethal injection was once believed to be a painless process, it is now understood to feel like being burned alive from the inside out while drowning and suffocating (for as long as 18 minutes).

A failed marriage proposal from William Rehnquist to Sandra Day O'Connor in 1952 is making headlines as no one knew about it until very recently.

In a recently announced biography (set to publish next year) about Justice O'Connor, titled First, the details of the pre-High Court relationship are discussed, among many other details of Justice O'Connor's life. However, the 1952 letter from Rehnquist to O'Connor proposing marriage was not known about until the author of the recent biography started digging through O'Connor's personal and archived papers.

Given the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, several commentaries have been published questioning whether, or just when, the High Court will take up a case involving abortion.

Currently, there are a few cases that have pending petitions before the justices, but it's believed that the justices are trying to avoid the issue due to how political of an issue abortion is, and how political the recent confirmation hearings were. It's posited that the High Court may want to avoid such partisan issues until it feels that the public's trust in it has rebounded.

Given all the controversy leading up to Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, many legal commentators and pundits have asserted various opinions on whether Justice Kavanaugh will need to recuse himself from various cases.

This week, Kavanaugh may have surprised many of the partisan pundits on both sides who believed he wouldn't recuse himself from anything, when he recused himself from three cases pending before the High Court. Notably though, there was nothing partisan about it. All three cases are out of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and had decisions which Kavanaugh participated in while on the appellate bench.

In a bit of sad news, retired SCOTUS Justice Sandra Day O'Connor told the world in an open letter that she will be withdrawing from public life due to a dementia diagnosis that is "probably Alzheimer's disease."

At 88 years old, Justice O'Connor explains that she wants to be the one to tell everyone about her condition and share some personal thoughts while she still can.

In a one-paragraph order, Chief Justice John Roberts has put the climate change case of the decade on hold.

The big climate change case being brought by a group of children was slated to go to trial in a week, but it looks like the federal government just succeeded in derailing the train of experts and testimony that was expected to shock the world with facts about climate science and government accountability or the lack thereof. And while all hope is not quite lost yet that a trial will still happen, given the makeup of the new Court and issues at play here, the case may be politically doomed.