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

December 2015 Archives

In the dark, snowy winter months ahead, nothing beats sitting down by the fire, cozying up with a cup of tea, and playing the latest oral arguments on your gramophone (or computer). Just let them run in the background as you type away at your desk works as well.

There are plenty of oral arguments to keep you busy in January and February. Seventeen, to be exact. Here are our top six picks.

When the Supreme Court rejected two cert petitions over a toxic waste dispute in Arizona, Chief Justice Roberts took part, despite an easy-to-spot conflict of interest. Texas Instruments, the company that made your high school calculator, was a petitioner in that case. Chief Justice Roberts owns between $100,001 and $250,000 in Texas Instruments Stock, yet failed to recuse himself when the petition was considered.

Does it matter?

Obama Admin Asks SCOTUS to Reject Original Juris. Pot Case

The Obama Administration has just asked SCOTUS to reject a lawsuit filed by the states of Oklahoma and Nebraska which both seek to block Colorado's recently approved law legalizing recreational pot use by adults. The two states argue that marijuana is being smuggled across state borders and the drugs threaten the health and safety of their children.

Even with the rejection of the suit, a rather large legal gap would still continue to widen between the illegal status of marijuana in the eyes of the federal government, and its increasingly legal status in many states.

The Supreme Court has its boring years. The Court didn't do much of note in 1888, for example. 1952 was a total snooze. But 2015? No way.

Few years have brought as many important and exciting Supreme Court decisions as 2015. Spanning from same-sex marriage to Facebook threats, from lethal injections to Obamacare, it wasn't a dull year. Here are 2015's five most interesting, exciting, and important decisions.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court put the kibosh on a class action lawsuit by DirectTV customers. California courts, it ruled, must enforce a DirectTV arbitration agreement that prevented class-wide claims. It's the last opinion from the Court in 2015, and one of a number of recent cases emphasizing that state courts must give effect to arbitration agreements.

But that's wasn't the only news out of the High Court on Monday. In its first major action on the rights of gays and lesbians since last summer's Obergefell decision, the Supreme Court stepped in to a dispute between two lesbian parents, staying an Alabama order that would have denied one mother parental rights to her adopted children.

The latkes are getting soggy, Hanukkah Harry has gone away, and one of Judaism's more "meh" holidays is over. But forget that, let's talk about the Supreme Court. In what's got to be a great Maccabean coincidence, there have now been eight Jewish Supreme Court justices, one for each light on the menorah.

Less than a hundred years ago, the first Jewish justice was appointed to the Supreme Court. That gave rise to a single "Jewish seat" on the Court. Like the "Catholic seat," there was typically a spot on the court set aside for a single Jewish jurist -- and no more. Today, a third of the justices are Jewish. Here's a quick overview of all the Supreme Court Justices descending from the tribes of Israel.

Yesterday, the Court heard arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a challenge to UT's use of race as a factor in admissions decisions. Fisher is one of the most high-profile, contentious cases the Supreme Court will hear this year and oral arguments reflected Fisher's import.

The debate was lively, a bit long, and even controversial, with one Justice's comments on race eliciting audible gasps from the gallery. Here's what you need to know.

Don't bet all your money on a ground-shaking, tradition-breaking ruling in the Supreme Court's 'one person, one vote' cases.

Caution ruled the day at Tuesday's oral arguments, as the Supreme Court debated just how best to ensure equal representation in voting districts. And few of the justices seemed eager to make drastic changes to the districting status quo. Here are the highlights.

Gun Rights Lawyer Makes Personal Request of Justice Roberts, Gets Denied

Alan Gura, the attorney who argued some of this nation's most groundbreaking modern gun cases including District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago, made a personal request of Chief Justice Roberts. Unfortunately for Gura, the request was denied.

The issue began last year over a section of a law that required persons to provide a good reason for carrying firearms in public streets in D.C. Alan Gura was not happy when a visiting judge from upstate New York issued an order against the city to stop enforcing the law.

It's one of the cornerstones of modern democracy: one person, one vote. But as straight-forward as the phrase sounds, there are some major ambiguities lurking in the wings. Such as, who counts as "one person?" Everyone living in a state? Just American citizens? Just voters?

The Supreme Court will take up those questions when it hears oral arguments for Evenwel v. Abbott on Tuesday, as it decides whether states may use total population or voter population when drawing legislative districts.

Over the past few months, student protests have spread throughout college campuses, demanding racial justice and greater support for diversity in academia. The protests at the University of Missouri are the most notable, but student activism has spread to over 60 campuses, including the Ivy League alma matters of the Supreme Court justices, where the protests have met with both support and derision.

Will student activism impact the justices as they get ready to hear Fisher v. University of Texas, a challenge to affirmative action in college admissions? That's what Adam Liptak argues in Tuesday's edition of The New York Times. We're not so sure. Here's why.

The first decision of the Supreme Court's October 2015 Term is out and it's unanimous. On Tuesday, the Court released its first opinion, on the first case it heard arguments from this term: OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs -- we'll call it Sachs from now on, since Personenverkehr doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. It's a case involving the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and the ability of U.S. citizens to sue foreign government entities.

The opinion kicked off a busy week for the Court, which also heard its first oral arguments of December. Here's what you need to know.