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

May 2011 Archives

Maximize Your Odds in Your Petition for Certiorari

Getting your case to the Supreme Court is not easy. Many litigants file a petition for certiorari and vie for the Supreme Court's attention, but only a select few get it. So what do you do if you think your case should be heard by the Supreme Court?

California Lawyer Magazine has written a helpful article on maximizing your chances of SCOTUS hearing your case. The article also has small quiz you can take at the end of it, for California MCLE. While it's not easy to have your case reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court, there are always things you could do to increase your chances.

SCOTUS Upholds Arizona Illegal Immigration Law; No, Not That One

Arizona has been a political hotbed in the illegal immigration debates. With 11 million illegal immigrants believed to be in the United States, Arizona, which shares a border with Mexico, has been Ground Zero for immigration reform. On Thursday, May 26, the U.S. Supreme Court addressed the illegal immigration issue and upheld a controversial Arizona illegal immigration law.

Let's be clear for a minute here-- the law that was upheld was not SB 1070, the same law that requires the police to ask "suspected illegal immigrants" for identification. That law has had it's most controversial provisions put on hold, at the order of the 9th Circuit. The law upheld by SCOTUS is a slightly different law, albeit one that deals with the illegal immigration issue and has also been criticized by President Barack Obama.

US Supreme Court: Release 46,000 From California Prisons

California’s prison system has been under scrutiny and the issue of California’s prison overcrowding has finally been addressed by SCOTUS. On appeal from the United States District Court, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a judicial order that would result in the release of up to 46,000 California prisoners.

In the majority were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Anthony Kennedy.

California’s prisons have been operating at 200% of design capacity for the last 11 years, says the Supreme Court opinion, written by Justice Kennedy. Prison conditions in California have been described as “appalling” and “inhumane,” writes Forbes, citing some examples from the Supreme Court opinion, including the death of a prisoner complaining of severe abdominal pain after a delay of five weeks in referring the inmate to a specialist.

Supreme Court: Armed Conflict Law at Issue in Gitmo Detainee Case

Is simply being a part of Al Qaeda enough to justify detention at Guantanamo Bay, if the accused has not specifically engaged in armed action against the United States? The question is trying to make it to the United States Supreme Court next Term, with a petition was filed on May 11. And with Justice Kagan likely sitting this one out, the eight-Justice panel might sway in favor of the Obama Administration's lawyers yet again.

The case, Al-Bihani v. Obama, is coming from the D.C. Circuit Court, where the court previously ruled that membership in such terrorist organizations was sufficient to justify prolonged detention of an individual.

There were eight Gitmo cases before the U.S. Supreme Court this Term and six were denied review by the Court, reports SCOTUSblog. While in 2008, the Boumediene v. Bush case granted Guantanamo detainees the right to challenge their detention in District Court, the Obama Administration has been clinging to much the same view as the Bush Administration subsequently took post-Boumediene, successfully attempting to limit the habeas rights in court, says SCOTUSblog.

Obamacare Lawsuit: Is Justice Elena Kagan Impartial?

Should Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan sit out the Obamacare lawsuit? Judicial Watch Inc. is claiming that she should. According to its May 18, 2011 announcement on its website, the self-proclaimed "conservative, non-partisan educational foundation" had obtained documents, pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act suit, casting doubt on Justice Kagan's impartiality.

Earlier in the year, they filed a claim to compel the DOJ to comply with the FOIA.

Judicial Watch claims that given her alleged involvement in crafting a defense for the legislation in her role as Solicitor General, Justice Kagan's impartiality might become more of an issue as the case proceeds.

Briefly, an overview of the trajectory of the "is Obamacare unconstitutional" legal battle:

Winklevoss Twins, Narendra, Set Sights on Supreme Court

According to Forbes, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra want to sing their tale of Facebook woes at the national level. Nope, they're not going to be on Idol. Rather, we'll be entertained by their litigation antics, as Narendra and the Winklevoss twins are now eyeing the United States Supreme Court to plead their case in their ongoing Facebook lawsuit.

Earlier this week, the Winklevoss twins were denied their petition for a rehearing en banc by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In fact, Judge Alex Kozinski went one step further in his written opinion and actually reprimanded the Winklevoss twins, stating that "litigation must come to an end."

State Secrets and Extraordinary Rendition: Mohamed v. Jeppesen

The United States Supreme Court ruled against five defendants in an extraordinary rendition case earlier this week. While the facts of the case dealt with the issue of torture in interrogations, the opinion of the Supreme Court was based largely on procedural issues.

The lead plaintiff, Binyam Mohamed, spent four years in Guantanamo Bay after allegedly confessing to terrorism plotting. According to The Los Angeles Times, Mohamed asserted that he confessed to crimes he never committed and that these confessions came after enduring torture during the course of his CIA detention: torture that included having his genitals sliced with a scalpel.