Supreme Court

  • June 11, 2014
     
    On Tuesday, Judge Rolf M. Treu of the Los Angeles Superior Court ruled that teacher tenure laws violated students’ civil rights. Lawyers for the teacher’s union asserted that the decision placed blame solely on teachers without considering the grave effects of economic inequalities and public school funding on student performance. Jennifer Medina at The New York Times reports on the decision that may lead to big changes throughout America’s classrooms.
     
    Microsoft is fighting another warrant from federal prosecutors forcing the company to hand over a customer’s email.  The case marks the “first time a corporation has challenged a domestic search warrant seeking digital information overseas.” Steve Lohr of The New York Times has the story.
     
    Indigent prisoners who wish to file claims without paying fees may do so in forma pauperis (IFP). At CAC’s Text and History Blog, Brianna Gorod notes why the “three strikes” provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, which limits the number of times a prisoner can be eligible for IFP status, is unconstitutional. 
     
    On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that children waiting for immigration visas with their families must go to the back of the line when they turn 21 years-old. Lawrence Hurley at Reuters analyzes Scialabba v. de Osorio.
  • June 10, 2014

    by Charles Withers

    Last Friday, the Obama administration announced that it will provide lawyers for children facing deportation. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, the step will “protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of society.” Kirk Semple at The New York Times explains how the policy will affect immigration reform.

    In 2011, families of former marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina sued an electronics plant for poisoning their water. Yesterday, the Supreme Court in a 7-to-2 decision ruled in favor of the electronics plant, saying that the families had missed a deadline to file suit. Sam Hananel at The Associated Press has the story.  

    Writing for The New York Times, David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth note the steps being taken by Google and other internet companies to protect their systems from the National Security Agency. 

    At The New Republic, Simon Lazarus breaks down Bond v. United States and how ”neo-isolationists” have “chosen a route to victory through the Supreme Court—not Congress, state legislators, or voters.”

  • June 9, 2014
    Although U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crab struck down Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriage Friday, some counties are still turning away same-sex couples. John M. Becker at The Bilerico Project describes the state of marriage equality in the Badger State.
     
    In an op-ed for The New York Times, ACS board member Linda Greenhouse pays a visit to the Berkshire International Film Festival and recommends two must-see legal documentaries.
     
    A new report released Friday reveals the immense preparation behind the Clinton administration’s nomination of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen BreyerTony Mauro and Todd Ruger at Legal Times comment on the report.
     
    At PrawfsBlawg Dan Rodriguez notes John McGinnis’ new article on the decline of lawyers entitled Machines v. Lawyers .
     
    At Jost on Justice, Kenneth Jost addresses allegations of inadequate health care for Arizona prisoners.

     

  • June 3, 2014

     
    The Supreme Court ruled that a Pennsylvania woman who attempted to poison her husband’s mistress cannot be prosecuted under federal law. The justices ruled that the federal ban on chemical weapons does not apply to Carol Anne Bond, whose attempt to poison her victim resulted only in “a minor thumb burn readily treated by rinsing with water.” Lyle Denniston as SCOTUSblog breaks down Bond v. United States.
     
    New voting laws across the country will pose an arduous task for minority voters in the midterm elections. In states like North Carolina and Texas, these restrictions will “disproportionately affect registration and voting by African-Americans as compared with whites.” Fanita Tolson discusses the issue in the Tallahassee Democrat.
     
    Trip Gabriel at The New York Times addresses why democrats in Kentucky are disillusioned by the Obama administrations’ ambitious proposal for regulating power plant emissions.
     
    At Just Security, Marty Lederman examines the Obama administration’s reasons for not waiting “30 days to complete the Bergdahl exchange.” 
     
    At Concurring Opinions, Ronald K.L. Collins provides a “snapshot of the Roberts Court’s record on free expression issues.” 
  • June 2, 2014
    Guest Post

    by Frank Housh, owner of Housh Law Offices, PLLC, and chair of the ACS Western New York Lawyer Chapter. He participated in the preparation of the petition for a writ of certiorari in Johnson v. Texas, 509 US 350 (1993), a case related to the issue of the intellectual capacity of the defendant in a capital case.

    The Supreme Court’s May 27 decision in Hall v. Florida makes clear that fundamental notions of human dignity and the validity of the scientific method axiomatic in developed nations of the 21st Century have found no purchase by the majority of the Court. As a nation which still executes its own, the United States remains a peculiar outlier in the international order; the fact that our constitutional jurisprudence still tinkers with the obsolete machinery of death drags down the rule of law below the minimum standards of the world community.

    In 1989, a 5-4 Supreme Court in Atkins v. Virginia held that executing the “mentally retarded” was a violation of the Eighth Amendment. “Mentally retarded,” however, remained undefined in the decision. What followed was a macabre race to the bottom among the states, including Florida’s bright-line standard that funneled those capital defendants with an IQ of 69 or less to life without parole and those with a score of 70 and above to the gallows (Freddie Lee Hall scored a 71). Unfortunately, that race continues, as Hall does little to clarify the issue.

    Hall had two holdings: first, the more palatable “intellectual disability” is the phrase of choice over “mental retardation;” second, IQ score alone cannot be the final and conclusive evidence of the defendant’s intellectual capacity because “experts in the field would consider other evidence” due to the presence of a “standard error measurement.” No further guidance was given as to what constitutes a constitutionally permissible scheme to determine the the minimum standard of intellectual function necessary to strap someone to a gurney and shoot poison into them until they die.