Supreme Court

  • May 6, 2014

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Town of Greece v. Galloway that the First Amendment was not violated when monthly board meetings in Greece, New York were opened with a Christian prayer. In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the ruling would “strike a heavy blow against the nation’s tradition of religious pluralism, and will lead to prayers that will actively promote a single faith’s religious values.” At The Daily BeastGeoffrey R. Stone, former ACS Board Chair and current Co-Chair of the Board of Advisors for the ACS Chicago Lawyer Chapter as well as Co-Faculty Advisor for the University of Chicago Law School ACS Student Chapter, breaks down the decision. At The Atlantic, Garrett Epps reveals how the court’s decision “shows how far the ground has shifted under the Establishment Clause in the last 30 years” while Dahlia Lithwick at Slate prepares her readers to “get ready for a lot more Jesus in your life.”  
     
    In the wake of Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton D. Lockett, the White House “has commissioned yet another study of lethal injections.” Writing for The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen explains why President Obama “would be better off lobbying the Supreme Court and Congress to make changes.”
     
    At The New York Times, Adam Liptak reports on a new study which reveals that Justice Antonin Scalia “voted to uphold the free speech rights of conservative speakers at more than triple the rate of liberal ones” while David S. Joachim reports on the “pivotal” Republican primaries in North Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky and what they could mean for the 2014 midterm elections.
     
    At Womenstake, Michelle Banker comments on a Guttmacher Institute study which shows that “more bills to protect access to abortion have been introduced thus far in 2014 than had been introduced in any year for the past 25 years.” 
  • May 5, 2014

     
    The effects of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission are being felt in elections across the country. Writing for the Brennan Center for Justice, Ian Vandewalker discusses how the Republican primary in Florida’s 19th congressional district “illustrates how individual wealth can be an avenue to a seat in Congress — a body in which millionaires now have a majority.”
     
    As calls for the retirement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg persist, the justice remains steadfast in her decision to continue her “pathmarking” career. Jess Bravin at The Wall Street Journal  discusses Ginsburg’s tenure on the court and a life representing both “historic significance and present-day power.”
     
    Writing for The New York Times, ACS Board Member Linda Greenhouse addresses Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and why “the decision stopped short of a direct hit on affirmative action.”
     
    Jennifer Bard at Prawfsblawg notes Senator Elizabeth Warren’s A Fighting Chance and why “student loan reform is necessary but not sufficient to developing a legal education that better prepares our students for the important role they will play in society.”
     
    Robert Tsai at Concurring Opinions proposes “the creation of a new national office dedicated to the protection of civil and human rights.” 
  • May 2, 2014

    At The New York Times, Erik Eckholm and John Schwartz describe the timeline leading up to the controversial execution of Clayton D. Lockett, while Jan Hoffman reports that “4.1 percent of death row defendants  are falsely convicted.” Meanwhile, at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick explains why “Oklahoma’s botched execution was the grim but predictable result of a state more concerned with vengeance than justice.”
     
    At California Lawyer, Rory Little talks with U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. about the Affordable Care Act, clerking for Justice Brennan and the possibility of becoming a Supreme Court Justice.
     
    As the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education fast approaches, Sherrilyn Ifill at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund reflects on the landmark case.
  • May 1, 2014

    Justice Antonin Scalia is facing criticism for “flatly misstating core facts from one of his own prior opinions.” In Environmental Protection Agency v. EME Homer City Generation, decided Tuesday, Justice Scalia’s dissent cites to his 2001 opinion in Whitman v. American Trucking Association.  However, “the EPA's stance in [Whitman] was the exact opposite of what Scalia said it was in Tuesday’s opinion.”  Sahil Kapur at Talking Points Memo highlights an “unusually major mistake” at the high court.
     
    Controversy continues to surround Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton D. Lockett. Erik Eckholm and John Schwartz at The New York Times report on Gov. Mary Fallin’s response to the troubling event “defending the death penalty but order[ing] an independent autopsy of Mr. Lockett and a thorough review of the state’s procedures for lethal injections.” In response to Gov. Fallin’s proposal, the ACLU of Oklahoma stated that the governor’s planned efforts “create a serious conflict of interest” and that the “Attorney General and Governor fought every attempt at transparency or accountability in our execution process.” Steven Erlanger at The New York Times notes the “outrage in Europe over the flawed execution.”
     
    The Honorable Lynn Adelman, U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, ruled that Wisconsin’s state’s voter ID law violated the Fourteenth Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Ari Berman at The Nation has the story.
     
    Alex Kreit at Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform comments on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s unlawful user law that “makes it a crime for anyone who ‘is an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance’ to possess a firearm.” 

     

  • April 30, 2014

    Last night, the Oklahoma execution of Clayton D. Lockett was “halted when the prisoner, began to writhe and gasp” in a horrific scene, which had onlookers witnessing “agonizing suffocation and pain.” Lockett suffered a fatal heart attack after the botched lethal injection attempt which used untested compounded drugs. Erik Eckholm at The New York Times reports on this troubling story while Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic highlights its grave implications. According to Cohen, “what happened last night was the inevitable result of a breakdown in government in Oklahoma, where frustration at the continuing delay in the resolution of Lockett's case blinded state officials to the basic requirements of due process. From these officials' perspectives, the fight over this man's fate seemed to be personal, rather than a dispassionate exercise in bureaucracy.”   
     
    Peter Williams at NBC News reports on yesterday’s Supreme Court oral argument in Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie, suggesting that “the court could allow police to search phones for evidence in serious crimes but not to rummage through them in minor ones.”
     
    Writing for Reuters, Lawrence Hurley explains why the high court handed “President Obama a victory on Tuesday by upholding a federal environmental regulation requiring some states to limit pollution that contributes to unhealthy air in neighboring states.”
     
    At Balkinization, David Fontana discusses Bruce Ackmerman’s “We the People” trilogy and how understanding “where American constitutional change comes from” can help us “better understand many unique features of constitutional order [in] the United States.”