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To the surprise of many, the challenge to the Minnesota law banning political badges, political buttons, or other political insignia at polling places was successful in the U.S. Supreme Court case Minnesota Voter Alliance v. Mansky.

The High Court held that the law violates the First Amendment rights of voters because, as the law is written, it's just too vague. The 7 to 2 majority opinion explains that the wording of law does not provide individuals, nor those tasked with working the polls, clear definitions as what qualifies as "political." Reading through the opinion, though, it is clear that SCOTUS does see a path whereby such restrictions on apparel could cut Constitutional muster.

Though commentators were just starting to posit that the Azar v. Garza matter was doomed in SCOTUS conference limbo, this week, the Justices issued a unanimous decision. And if you feel like this decision was unexpected, well, you're not alone, as the High Court never heard an oral argument.

The case involved an undocumented teen who needed a court order in order to be allowed to get an abortion. And since the abortion actually happened promptly after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it could, SCOTUS ruled that the case was now moot. As to the sanctions the government sought against the lawyer who they claimed misled the government as to the date of the abortion procedure, SCOTUS was not convinced.

This week, SCOTUS ruled in perhaps the most closely watched case this term, the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. The 7 to 2 ruling came down in favor of the baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. But that ruling was rather narrow, seeming to exclusively rest on the state's civil rights commission's hostility toward the baker's claim, rather than constitutional problems with the state's civil rights law.

It appears that the Court has completely avoided the question of whether the baker was in the right or not, instead finding the state civil rights commission was out of order. Naturally, a limited opinion in such a divisive case will likely lead to confusion. And Justice Ginsburg's short dissent, in which Justice Sotomayor joins, is sure to give pause to any readers.

The United States Supreme Court has decided not to intervene in the controversial Arkansas abortion pill case.

In that matter, Planned Parenthood is challenging an Arkansas state law requiring those who provide "medication abortions" to have a contractual relationship with a doctor that has admitting privileges at a local hospital. The challenge claims that the law essentially denies Arkansas residents "medication abortions" as there would be only one other provider left in the state, since Planned Parenthood has not been able to meet the law's requirement. Proponents of law say it's about safety and the state's pro-life politics.

In the latest ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, an 8 to 1 majority opinion held that the Fourth Amendment's vehicle exemption did not apply to a motorcycle, stored under a tarp, on the curtilage of an individual's home.

The basic facts are reminiscent of a deceivingly complex bar exam question. An officer suspected an individual was in possession of a stolen motorcycle that was involved in a couple serious traffic incidents. The officer did some Facebook snooping, and found Ryan Collins who had posted photos of the same motorcycle parked in his driveway.

The officer went to Collins' home and saw a tarp at the top of the driveway next to the home. He then walked up the driveway to the tarp, lifted the tarp up, identified the motorcycle was in fact the one he was looking for, replaced the tarp, then went back to his car to wait for Collins to arrive home. When he did, Collins admitted to buying the bike without title, and the officer arrested him.

Reports from today's oral arguments at the United States Supreme Court explain that the justices kept their poker faces on when it came to partisan gerrymandering. Apart from Justices Sotomayor and Kagan's clearly anti-partisan gerrymandering line of questions, there didn't seem to be any indication of which side was winning.

The Benisek v. Lamone case is a little bit different than the Gil case which was heard last fall. One significant difference that has been getting quite a bit of attention is the fact that this case focuses on a gerrymander in favor of democrats, while Gil's gerrymandering favored republicans. Pundits posit that the High Court took up this case specifically to be able to rule on the issue of partisan gerrymandering without appearing political by letting each faction win (or lose) one case.

In a recent editorial opinion penned for the New York Times, retired United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens had a clear message for the youth of today: Repeal the Second Amendment.

Justice Stevens explains that repealing the Second Amendment is now the clearest path to undoing the impact of the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, which he believes was decided incorrectly. Heller effectively invalidated gun control legislation and held that there is an individual right to bear arms within the Second Amendment. Justice Stevens believes the Heller decision "has provided the NRA with a propaganda weapon of immense power."

Justice Alito, who presides over matters coming out of the Third Circuit, has rejected the appeal of Pennsylvania's GOP leaders over the state's High Court ruling requiring the overly Republican-friendly voting map be redrawn.

Challengers asserted that the court did not have the authority to redraw voting districts, but that only state legislatures could do so. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court disagreed with that position and denied the existence of a federal question, and the now U.S. Supreme Court refused to get involved, leaving the challengers with little else to do.

Remember the unbelievable D.C. v. Wesby civil rights case that involved a bunch of alleged trespassers and their host Peaches that got arrested while partying in a vacant house and then won $680, 000 (actually a cool million after attorney fees)? Well, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in this week, and those trespassing partygoers likely aren't going to be celebrating anymore, as the High Court just reversed and remanded the case.

Interestingly, where the district and appellate court found each of the proffered justifications for probable cause for arrest of the partygoers to be insufficient, SCOTUS saw the totality of the circumstances to be more than enough. Additionally, rubbing salt into the wounds (and case) of the partygoers, the Court found that the district and appellate courts' failure to find qualified immunity was a clear error.

Despite the fact that the judiciary basically redesigned itself to be the ultimate check and balance on governmental authority, when it comes to civil rights, the High Court apparently has not been particularly friendly. Constitutional scholars, including a federal district court judge, have been shouting from a lonely mountain top for some time now about the hostility of SCOTUS to sec. 1983 claims, but sadly, it seems that no one can hear them, or seems to care that the High Court keeps ruling in favor of the government in these claims.

Even the fan-favorite, Erwin Chemerinsky, has been warning of the civil rights doom and gloom at the Supreme Court, and recently wrote about how the Court has repeatedly limited Bivens claims, with the most recent Bivens limitation squashing the, once-hallmark, catchall aspect of the law.