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

January 2015 Archives

SCOTUS Agrees to Hear Lethal Injection Case

Why do these things always happen on a Friday? Last week, the Supreme Court dropped the bombshell that it was reviewing the Sixth Circuit's same-sex marriage case.

Today, the Court announced that it would hear the appeal of Richard Glossip and two other death row inmates in Oklahoma scheduled to be executed in the next few months. The petition is noteworthy because the inmates are challenging the legality of the lethal injection process itself.

Ex-Air Marshal MacLean Protected as Whistleblower, SCOTUS Finds

In 2003, an air marshal named Robert MacLean went to the press with a story that the TSA was ineffectual at protecting us from potential airplane hijackings. He was eventually fired, leading to a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against the TSA.

The TSA had always maintained that MacLean shouldn't get whistleblower protection because he disclosed internal policies in violation of federal law, obviating his whistleblower status. In a 7-2 decision issued today, the Supreme Court sided with MacLean.

Holt v. Hobbs: SCOTUS Says Muslim Prisoner Can Have Half-Inch Beard

In a case that Court-watchers were eagerly anticipating, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously today in Holt v. Hobbs that a prison policy prohibiting inmates from growing beards unless they have a dermatological condition violates the First Amendment.

Holt, a prisoner in Arkansas, converted to Islam and changed his name to Abdul Maalik Muhammad. Muhammad's reading of Muslim scripture required him to grow a beard, something prison policy forbade. Muhammad sued pursuant to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

SCOTUS Grants Cert. to Gay Marriage Cases: 2 Questions Presented

Following the Sixth Circuit's decision in November upholding gay marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Tennessee, many felt it was a matter of "when" not "if" the Supreme Court would decide to tackle the issue of gay marriage again.

It turns out, the "when" is apparently now. The Court announced this morning it was granting cert. in four cases challenging the constitutionality of the bans in those four states. The decision in the case will likely have historic impact on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage across the country.

As the kids say: It's on.

SCOTUS: Borrower Can Rescind Mortgage Just by Sending a Letter

How do you have to "notify" a creditor of an intent to rescind a mortgage? Five circuits to decide the issue held that "notify" meant filing a lawsuit, while three said that a written notice was sufficient.

A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court today agreed with the minority, holding that a simple letter notifying the creditor of the intent to rescind is good enough to rescind the loan.

SCOTUS Oral Argument Preview: Week of January 12, 2015

After a nice, long, break, the Supreme Court is raring to go again, starting the second half of its October 2014 term with oral arguments on January 12.

The Court is apparently going to ease back into its job after vacation. This first week lacks the more polemical cases that we'll see later, focusing instead on interpreting regulations and statutes. (When will we get to same sex marriage and abortion?!)

What can SCOTUS watchers expect to see in the first week back? Here's a preview:

2014 Fed. Judiciary Report: E-Filings, but Still No Cameras at SCOTUS

"Pneumatics!" begins Chief Justice Roberts' annual year-end report on the federal judiciary. In 1893, The Washington Post heralded the pneumatic tube as a brilliant way to move documents around a large building.

When the Supreme Court building was constructed in 1931, Cass Gilbert incorporated pneumatic tubes in order to distribute information to the press. The lesson, buried at the end of this historical journey: It took 38 years for the Court to embrace this new technology.

One Small Step Toward Transparency: SCOTUS to Post Briefs Online

It's not an uncommon opinion that the U.S. Supreme Court is a bit lacking when it comes to transparency. There are no cameras in the courtroom, opinions are changed without notice after being released, link rot plagues citations to online sources, and court watchers have to rely on third parties to access the briefs that, most of the time, are what makes up the justices' minds.

In other words, there is a lot of room for improvement.

In his end-of-the-year report, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that the Court will take one small step towards an ideal, transparent world: It will soon post all of those ever-important briefs online.

Speak Softly, Carry a Big Brief? Masculine Voices Fall Short at SCOTUS: Study

"Mister Chief Justice, may it please the Court?"

A recent study rated male lawyers as they argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, and nothing correlated with success quite like the masculinity of the lawyers' voice while uttering that phrase. But the real shocker? The more masculine the voice, the less likely the advocate was to win the case, according to the study.

Is it a statistical fluke? And were there any other interesting findings?