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

March 2013 Archives

Prop 8, DOMA, and the Week Standing Became Sexy

The Supreme Court doesn't care about Internet memes or mass protests. The Justices aren't influenced by messages projected on the Court's darkened columns or Facebook profile pictures. The Court cares about standing.

And now, a lot of other people do, too.

Standing is finally a hot topic because the outcomes in the Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) cases could turn on a simple procedural issue: Can the Court even rule on the merits?

SCOTUS Reverses Third Circuit in Comcast, Millbrook

The Supreme Court decided this week that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is all kinds of wrong.

Wednesday, the Court issued two opinions reversing earlier Third Circuit rulings: Millbrook v. U.S. and Comcast Corp et al v. Behrend.

U.S. v. Windsor: Will Heightened Scrutiny Stand?

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in Hollingsworth v. Perry. In Hollingsworth, the Court is considering whether California's Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause, and whether the Court should even decide the case at all. Don't get your hopes up for a sweeping proclamation in favor of gay marriage; the Court seems hesitant to give such a "new" concept the go-ahead, Reuters reports.

But that's not necessarily an indication of how the Court will proceed in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) challenge, U.S. v. Windsor .

On Wednesday, the focus will shift to Windsor, in which the Court will mull whether DOMA Section 3 is unconstitutional.

SCOTUS Strikes Front Door Dog Sniff Based on Property, Not Privacy

If a random person popped up on your porch with a pooch to sniff around, you would probably be perturbed. Justice Antonin Scalia says that you are entitled to be equally outraged when the police and pawlice do the same thing.

Tuesday, the Supreme Court held in a 5-4 decision that the government's use of trained police dogs to investigate a home and its immediate surroundings is a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

Issues and Outcomes: Hollingsworth v. Perry

For the rest of the week, and most likely the rest of the 2012 Term, the same sex marriage cases will be the most popular legal topic in America.

Before we spend the rest of the year debating what these cases mean in the greater context of the civil rights debate, let’s review the issues that we’re going to hear on this week, starting with Hollingsworth v. Perry.

On Tuesday, March 26, the justices will hear oral arguments in Hollingsworth, also known as the Proposition 8 challenge. Prop 8 was 2008 California ballot initiative limiting marriage to one man and one woman.

Are Pay-for-Delay Deals Anti-Competitive?

The Federal Trade Commission believes that paying a prospective rival to stay out of a competition is the very definition of anti-competitive behavior, but the federal courts are split on the matter, Reuters reports.

Monday, the Supreme Court will take a stab at resolving whether brand and generic drug manufacturers should be allowed to enter into mutually-beneficial pay-for-delay arrangements.

Dynamic Duo: SCOTUS Decides Wos, Decker

There are a few Supreme Court cases each term that become part of the collective consciousness: Last year, there were the healthcare and immigration cases. This year, there are the Voting Rights Act, same-sex marriage, and affirmative action cases.

These are the issues that people get excited about. These are the topics that people discuss around the dinner table. These are the captions that law geeks write on their legal pads in swirly letters and circle with hearts.

First Sale Doctrine Applies to Books 'Lawfully Made Abroad'

Get ready to resell your books, ladies and gentlemen. The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the first sale doctrine does apply to works made overseas, Publishers Weekly reports.

The first sale doctrine in copyright law allows the owner of a lawfully-purchased copyrighted work to resell it without limitations imposed by the copyright holder.

You Have the Right to an Attorney: Gideon v. Wainwright at 50

Anyone who has watched 'Law & Order' can recite the Miranda rights.

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can be held against you. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you...

Attorneys may get second-billing on television dramas, but the right to an attorney is pretty damn important. And Gideon v. Wainwright -- the case that established that right in state non-capital trials -- turns 50 today.

Happy Birthday, RBG! 8 Reasons to Celebrate Justice Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg turns 80 on Friday, and we’re ready to celebrate her graceful transition from septuagenarian to octogenarian.

Here are 8 reasons to celebrate Justice Ginsburg:

Obama Admin to Appeal Recess Appointment Ruling to SCOTUS

Is anyone surprised that the Obama administration is skipping en banc review and heading straight to the Supreme Court?

In January, a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals panel decided that three members of the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutionally appointed during a Senate recess. Because the NLRB only has five seats — and it can’t operate without a quorum — that ruling means that over 200 NLRB decisions are in jeopardy.

Instead of waiting through both en banc review and the inevitable certiorari process, the administration will expedite the process and ask the Supreme Court to overturn the appellate panel’s decision.

Sotomayor Won't Break the SCOTUS Code of Silence for a 6th Grader

After watching the inauguration in January, Cameron Myers Milne — a sixth-grader from Wilson, North Carolina — decided to write the justices to explain her position on Hollingsworth v. Perry and U.S. v. Windsor. Granted, the proper format for making her case would be an amicus brief, but let’s agree to give her a break. Because she’s 11.

And she actually received a response from Justice Sonia Sotomayor, WNCT-CBS reports.

Sandra Day O'Connor Gets 'Out of Order' With New Book

Naturally, we love the trial scene in "Scent of Woman." Lovable Charlie's future is on the line, and crotchety Lt. Col. Slade (Al Pacino) walks in, gives a riveting speech, and saves the day. The best part is when the headmaster tells Col. Slade he's out of order. Pacino yells back, "Out of order? I'll show you out of order."

What attorney hasn't dreamed of pulling a Pacino in court?

This week, "Out of Order" takes on a decidedly more orderly form: It's the name of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's latest book. After reflections on life out West in "Lazy B" and the Court in "The Majesty of the Law," Justice O'Connor is on her way back to the bestseller list with "Out of Order."

Vet Can Sue Government for Battery After Botched Surgery

The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) waives the government’s sovereign immunity from tort suits, but certain intentional torts — including battery — are excluded from the waiver.

Monday, however, the Supreme Court ruled that the Gonzalez Act abrogates the FTCA’s intentional tort exception and permits a medical battery suit against the U.S.

5 Surprising Amicus Briefs in the Same Sex Marriage Cases

The same sex marriage cases before the Supreme Court this month feature of lot of legal star power. David Boies and Ted Olson — the attorneys who famously faced off in Bush v. Gore — are leading a bipartisan challenge to California's Proposition 8. Paul Clement, one of the leading litigators of our time, is defending the Defense of Marriage Act.

We knew these cases would be full of interesting twists and turns, but we didn't expect any twists or turns from the amicus briefs. Well, color us wrong.

Here are five surprising amicus briefs in the same sex marriage cases.