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

October 2013 Archives

Okla. Supreme Ct. Answers: RU-486 Law Bans Medical Abortions

The Oklahoma Supreme Court once again addressed the state's sloppily-drafted law regulating (or banning) drug-induced abortions, and this time, the opinion was longer than three paragraphs.

After the state court dispatched the law with a series of citations and unelaborated assertions, the U.S. Supreme Court granted conditional certiorari in the case, pending the receipt of answers to two certified questions to the state court.

The answers are in, and for state lawmakers and pro-life advocates, they aren't good.

How Many Ways Does SCOTUS Fail Technology and Transparency?

Calls for cameras in the Supreme Court have been repeated ad nauseum over the years. And we laughed when Justice Elena Kagan addressed the issue of email earlier this year, noting that her fellow justices aren't exactly tech-savvy, and that they send memorandums back-and-forth on ivory paper.

If the court's 19th century procedures make them sound like inaccessible luddites, well, we wouldn't exactly disagree with you, nor might the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which held a panel highlighting the Supreme Court's transparency shortcomings.

20 Week Abortion Laws Headed to SCOTUS? Is Viability Still Viable?

The court has already decided to take on abortion protest laws, and should, after hearing back from the Oklahoma Supreme Court, take on restrictions on medical drug-induced abortions as well. Why not add a third abortion-related case to the docket, especially since at least a dozen states now have laws restricting (or banning) abortions at or after 20-weeks post-fertilization?

Back in May, we covered the Ninth Circuit's unanimous decision in Issacson v. Horne. Late last month, Arizona petitioned for certiorari, according to Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog, and if the response is received in time, the case could make this year's docket.

Contraception Cases Close to Cert; New Lawsuits Could End Obamacare

After the Solicitor General filed responses to three anti-Obamacare lawsuits earlier this week, it seems as it the Court is getting closer and closer to resolving the critical mass of cases challenging the employer mandate on religious freedom grounds.

Meanwhile, even if the religious freedom lawsuits don't undermine Obamacare, two other recently-initiated lawsuits may also end up in the Supreme Court: one challenging the IRS's ability to penalize states for failure to provide health coverage, and another challenging subsidies to individuals who obtain insurance through the federal Obamacare exchange.

Grants: FL's Mental Retardation Standard and Mortgage Fraud

Atkins is resurfacing in the Supreme Court, just not in the case that many were pulling for.

In a pair of certiorari grants in this morning's orders list, the Supreme Court took a case about Florida's controversial and rigid standard for proving mental retardation in capital cases, and another case where a circuit split has developed over mortgage fraud restitution.

Of the two, the capital case will likely garner far more attention (as it should) and could affect all future Atkins claims of retardation as an exemption from execution.

Activist? Pro Business? Conservative? What are the Roberts Court's Leanings?

"If it's measured in terms of readiness to overturn legislation, this is one of the most activist courts in history ... This court has overturned more legislation, I think, than any other."

Sorry, Justice Ginsburg, but you, ma'am, are incorrect.

What's the popular perception of the Roberts Court? It's conservative, dominated by four conservative justices and one semi-conservative swing vote. It's activist, striking down decades-old anti-discrimination voting rights legislation. It's pro-business, ruling for corporate interests consistently.

Are those assertions correct?

The Week at First Street: EPA, Guns Granted; Madigan Dismissed

Despite the federal shutdown (now probably, maybe, possibly over!) crippling much of the country, the U.S. Supreme Court chugged on, finding funding in change dropped in the couch cushions and in Alito's stocks (maybe). Business as usual consisted of a few grants, a lot of denials, and a "whoops, we improvidently granted" dismissal.

If you have any interest in firearms, EPA regulations, or Justice Scalia scolding lawyers, read on:

The Biggest Non-Criminal Cases We Previewed During SCOTUS Week

Last week was a busy week at FindLaw. In honor of the Supreme Court's new term, it was Supreme Court week, where we previewed the most significant cases docketed for the upcoming term.

Last term, the docket had same-sex marriage, affirmative action and voting rights. This term is shaping up to be equally important, with religion, speech, affirmative action, campaign finance restrictions, intellectual property disputes, and major labor law cases on the docket, and that doesn't even touch the bevy of criminal cases. Here the biggest non-criminal cases we previewed in our circuit court blogs:

McClutcheon Oral Args: Mess of Hypos; Is Compromise in the Works?

Oral arguments in McClutcheon v. FEC, a case with significant implications for campaign finance and free speech, began with a series of hypotheticals about how one might circumvent the contribution limits at stake in this case, such as donating to or forming PACs, and continued with more confusion throughout. There was one brief hint, however, of how a compromise might be reached.

Based on their comments in oral arguments and past stances on campaign finance, most Court watchers are predicting that the four liberal justices (Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor) will likely vote to uphold the aggregate contribution limits, the four conservatives (Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy) will likely vote in favor of striking them down, and Chief Justice Roberts will likely operate as the swing vote -- or better yet, as a consensus and compromise builder.

Famous Friends: Profiles of Ginsburg and Scalia

One wouldn't think that two polar opposites could be such great friends. Justice Antonin Scalia is a boisterous, ultra-conservative jurist, while Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a liberal lion, with a far less exaggerated writing style. Nonetheless, it is now well-known Supreme Court trivia that the two are close friends, and have even ridden an elephant together.

In the last week, both have been subjects of lengthy, in-depth profiles. What else can we learn about the famous friends?

A Few Notable Denials on the Court's First Official Day

Though the Court granted certiorari in eight cases last week, the first official day of business is today, and the court rung in the new term with a lengthy 94-page orders list, most of which were denials.

Though the court's jurisdiction is discretionary, there are always a few surprises on the denials sheet, as well as a few that we wish they would've taken up. Here are some of those rejected petitions:

This Week's SCOTUS Grants (Part II): Unions, Fourth Amendment, IRS

We continue our review of this week's grants with a look at the other four cases granted cert., and while none of these possesses the star power of Raging Bull, these cases might actually be far more important than patent trolls and copyright disputes.

Fundamental Fourth Amendment principles, millions of dollars worth of taxes, and compelled union dues all await the Supreme Court in this batch of four cases, likely headed for the January oral argument docket.

Preview: Next Week is Supreme Court Week at FindLaw!

For us Supreme Court geeks, the summer recess is a pretty difficult time. After the flurry of important decision in June, addressing same-sex marriage, voting rights, and DNA cataloging of arrestees, we were left in SCOTUS silence for three months.

Now, even with the rest of the government on shutdown, the nation's most important court is set to resume official business on Monday. In their honor, we'll be covering everything SCOTUS across nearly all of our Legal Professionals blogs.

This Week's SCOTUS Grants (Part I): Raging Bull and Patent Trolls

Tired of waiting for the return of the Court?

The first official business of the 2013 term is here, with the Supreme Court issuing an orders list granting certiorari in eight cases. Recall that their summer backlog consisted of about 2,000 petitions, so we'd expect to hear more next week.

As for this week's business, from overrated boxing movies to fee-shifting issues in IP cases, here are the first four (of eight total) grants: