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

September 2011 Archives

Top 5 Ways to Get to Supreme Court Oral Arguments

An appellant arrives at the Supreme Court oral arguments through a writ of certiorari; a Supreme Court visitor arrives by hired car or bus.

We've told you which brand of robe you need to dress like a Supreme Court justice. We've offered instructions for hiring a line stander. Now you need to get to Court to relieve your line stander.

Driving yourself to the Supreme Court is a bad idea. The closest parking garage is half a mile away at Union Station, and traffic near Union Station is terrible. Looking for an alternative to driving yourself? Since the first Monday in October is nearly upon us, here are our top 5 suggestions to get yourself to Supreme Court oral arguments.

Supreme Court Grants Writs of Certiorari in 8 Cases

The Supreme Court continued to fill its fall calendar on Monday, granting writs of certiorari in eight new cases.

There were two recurring themes in the Supreme Court’s first meeting after returning from summer recess: immigration appellants and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Five of the eight cases the Court will consider matriculated from the Ninth Circuit, and three of the cases address immigration appeals.

Here are the latest cases to win Supreme Court Review:

Administration Invites Supreme Court Review of Individual Mandate

The Obama Administration has doubled down on its Affordable Care Act bet, declining to seek an en banc appeal from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Justice Department announced the decision on Monday, which clears the way for Supreme Court review before the 2012 presidential election.

We assumed that the controversial, individual mandate was designed to take effect in 2014 to allow the president to tout the plan during the 2012 election cycle without criticism of the inevitable glitches that arise in new programs. Now, the Court could strike the mandate before next November.

Chief Justice Roberts: Supreme Court Advocate to Legal Legend?

Standing in an airport customs line years ago, we met a bodyguard who was considering law school. We gave him our copy of Scott Turow's 1L, and said, "Read it. If you accept everything in this book as true, and you still want to go to law school, then go."

Now it might be best to refer prospective law students to David Kazzie's "So You Want to Go to Law School" video, in which an aspiring law student tells an attorney that she loves the Constitution. The attorney responds, "There are like three lawyers in America who argue constitutional issues ... They all went to Harvard and graduated in the 1970s. Did you go to Harvard?"

There are, of course, a few legal minds basking in constitutional issues who didn't go to Harvard in the '70s, but Chief Justice John Roberts isn't one of them.

Troy Davis Case: Should Supreme Court Have Stayed Execution?

The Troy Davis case has prompted America to once again debate the merits of the death penalty. Following Davis's execution last night in Georgia, we're pondering a different question: Would a Supreme Court stay of execution have yielded a different outcome or merely delayed Davis's death?

Davis was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1989 shooting of an off-duty police officer. For over 20 years, Davis appealed his conviction, claiming that he was innocent. He had a number of high-profile supporters, ranging from Pope Benedict XVI to Big Boi and Diddy, who fought his execution.

Justice Breyer Assigned to Pritzker Prize Jury Duty

Justice Stephen Breyer never fails to impress.

He officiates weddings, and stays on top of social media trends. He suffers injuries in two bike crashes, and continues cycling. He addresses law school graduates in three languages during the course of a single speech.* And somehow, between hobbies, speeches, exercise, and a rather demanding day job, he finds time to judge the preeminent architecture award, the Pritzker Prize.

This will not be Justice Breyer's first experience passing judgment on architects. Breyer was intimately involved in designing Boston's John Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse when he served as chief judge for the First Circuit Court of Appeals in the 1980s.

Justice Ginsburg Safe, Speaks at Hastings College of Law

We know that you’re not supposed to want to exit an airplane by way of an emergency slide, but we’ve always wanted to try it. We don’t want to be on a plane that’s in danger; we want to check out the slide in a safe, controlled environment.

For example, flight attendants must execute all emergency evacuation procedures as part of their training. See? Controlled environment.

Unless we change careers to spend our lives flying the friendly skies, we doubt we’ll ride the slide any time soon. Instead, we’re resigned to living vicariously through our favorite judicial fashion maven, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Take it All Off? Supreme Court to Hear Prison Strip-Search Case

We're among the whiney air travelers who huff and puff every time we're forced to walk through the backscatter. We don't like the high-tech airport strip-search, regardless of what the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals says about its legality.

(Sidebar: If you're lounging in a Vegas pool and you realize that you have to leave for the airport NOW because your flight departs an hour earlier than you thought, change into dry clothes before entering the airport security line. We have it on good authority that metal detectors interpret wet swimsuits as radioactive material. Remember: wet swimsuit = one-way ticket to airport strip-search. Don't ask how we know).

Stop, Valor Thief? DOJ Asks for Supreme Court Speech Opinion

The government may not be able to fix the stagnant domestic economy or the abysmal unemployment rate, but at least it can hold liars accountable for falsely claiming that they have received military medals for valor.

Or can it?

Earlier this month, a Maryland judge dismissed a case against Aaron Lawless, an Army and Marine vet who was named Glock's 2008 Hero of the Year Award after falsely claiming to have earned four Purple Hearts, two Bronze Stars, and one Silver Star while serving in Iraq. Lawless was charged with violating the Stolen Valor Act, a law the Maryland judge ruled was unconstitutional. The Maryland judge is not the only jurist of that opinion.

Dressed to The Nine: The Verdict on Supreme Court Robes

It's Fashion Week, and we would be remiss in neglecting to connect the glamour and frivolity that is consuming our RSS feed with our nine favorite jurists.

Now that the days of former Chief Justice William Rehnquist and everyone's favorite first female, Sandra Day O'Connor, are firmly behind us, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the only Supreme Court justice who dresses for court with any pizzazz.

It makes us sad.

Full Faith and Credit Easiest Path to Marriage Equality?

As California considers the constitutionality of Prop 8 in the state Supreme Court, we suspect the national debate over same-sex marriage will only grow louder.

And it should.

Recently, SCOTUSblog hosted a symposium on the same-sex marriage debate. Most of the contributors on the symposium theorized that, if the court were to hear Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the California same-sex marriage challenge, the law should side with marriage equality.

Maybe we’re cynics, but we’ve never believed that the party that should win necessarily prevails in court. It doesn’t matter who’s correct, who’s honest, or who’s innocent; what matters is how the judge rules. That’s why we think the safer path to marriage equality is the full faith and credit clause.

Need a Seat at Supreme Court Oral Arguments? Hire a Line Stander

We get a little giddy as First Monday approaches. And then we start mentally planning a visit to the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments and chortle at Justice Antonin Scalia's quips.

If you want to attend Supreme Court oral arguments, but you've never contemplated the logistics of such a venture, FindLaw is here to help.

The Supreme Court's courtroom is small. Within that tiny space, there is designated seating for the justices, their law clerks, the Marshall, the Marshall's aides, attorneys, the justices' special guests, and media. (Frankly, we're surprised that those bodies alone do not violate fire code, but we doubt that a fire marshal would have the nerve to tell The Nine to clear the Court.)

First Effects of Supreme Court Citizens United Decision in 2012

With the Ames Straw Poll only a few weeks behind us, America is once again in the throes of the presidential election season. For political junkies, election season is more exciting than all of the winter holidays combined. Why? Because elections bring on the barrage of political campaign ads.

Granted, state attack ads are usually more entertaining than the presidential ads - presidential candidates have to maintain a modicum of dignity - but while normal people are muting candidate advertisements, political junkies are savoring every mud-slinging moment.