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Elena Kagan

OPINION
April 27, 2014 | Times Editorial Board
Given the danger posed by drunk or reckless drivers, police should follow up on information - even information from an anonymous source - that a vehicle might be careening down a street or threatening other motorists and pedestrians. If they confirm that is the case, they should stop the vehicle. But that isn't what happened in a California case decided by the Supreme Court last week. The court's ruling makes it too easy for police to stop motorists on the basis of an anonymous tip. In 2008, a 911 dispatch team in Mendocino County received a report that a pickup truck had forced another vehicle off the road, giving rise to a concern that the driver might be drunk.
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NEWS
June 3, 2013 | By David G. Savage
WASHINGTON -- The police may take a DNA sample from people arrested for serious crimes, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a major victory for law enforcement and crime victims. The 5-4 decision is likely to make the taking of DNA samples as common as taking fingerprints or a photograph when people are arrested. More than half of the states now require a DNA mouth swab when persons are charged with a serious crime, and many of the others were awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the practice.
NEWS
June 26, 2013 | By David G. Savage
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court cleared the way Wednesday for same-sex marriages to resume in California as the justices, in a procedural ruling, turned away the defenders of Proposition 8. Chief Justice John Roberts, speaking for the 5-4 majority, said the private sponsors of Prop. 8 did not have legal standing to appeal after the ballot measure was struck down by a federal judge in San Francisco. "We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to," he said.
NATIONAL
March 21, 2012 | By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
Defendants in criminal cases have a constitutional right to a competent lawyer's advice when deciding whether to accept a plea bargain, the Supreme Court ruled, providing a significant expansion of rights that could have a broad impact on the justice system. "Ours for the most part is a system of pleas, not a system of trials," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said for the majority in a pair of 5-4 decisions. Noting that about 97% of federal convictions and 94% of state convictions result from guilty pleas, Kennedy wrote that "in today's criminal justice system, the negotiation of a plea bargain, rather than the unfolding of a trial, is almost always the critical point for the defendant.
NEWS
January 25, 2011 | By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
Six Supreme Court justices are expected to attend President Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday, amid growing concern over the politicization of the nation's high court. A court spokesman would not identify which of the panel's nine justices would attend, but it appeared likely that Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas would be the three to skip the president's speech. Alito, who shook his head in disagreement as Obama spoke last year, had accepted an offer to teach law classes in Hawaii this week.
NATIONAL
February 25, 2014 | By David G. Savage
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that police officers may enter and search a home without a warrant as long as one occupant consents, even if another resident has previously objected. The ruling -- based on a case involving a Los Angeles Police Department search -- gives the police more leeway to search homes without obtaining a warrant, even in situations where there is no emergency. The case began with a lawsuit filed by Walter Fernandez, a Los Angeles man who was arrested in 2009 as a suspect in a street robbery and taken from his home to the police station.
NEWS
June 28, 2012 | By David G. Savage, This post has been updated, as indicated below.
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of President Obama 's healthcare law Thursday, ruling the government may impose tax penalties on persons who do not have health insurance. The court's long-awaited ruling rejected a broad legal attack on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act brought by Republican state officials and the National Federation of Independent Business. The legal challenge focused on the law's so-called mandate that all must have insurance by 2014 or pay a tax penalty.
NATIONAL
June 16, 2011 | By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
The Supreme Court bolstered the rights of juveniles for the second year in a row, deciding by a 5-4 vote that police officers who remove a student from class for questioning about a crime usually must warn him or her of the right to remain silent. The decision Thursday did not set a strict rule for all cases involving police questioning of minors, but the justices said young people deserved extra protection because they would feel they had no choice but to answer. "It is beyond dispute that children will often feel bound to submit to police questioning when an adult in the same circumstance would feel free to leave," wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
NATIONAL
March 25, 2014 | By David G. Savage
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court's conservative justices sharply criticized part of President Obama's healthcare law Tuesday, suggesting they will rule later this year that requiring Christian-owned corporations to offer their employees contraceptives coverage violates the freedom of religion. “Your reasoning would permit requiring profit-making corporations to pay for abortions,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy told U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who defended the contraceptives provision of the Affordable Care Act. The administration's lawyer warned that the court would be adopting a “dangerous principle” if it gave employers a right to exempt themselves from federal laws based on their religious beliefs.
NEWS
July 12, 2012 | By Michael McGough
There are (at least) two reasons to pass a law: to address a practical problem and to send a message. A bill by Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) to criminalize lying about military service “for tangible benefit or personal gain” seems to fall into the second category. The Webb bill is a response to last month's Supreme Court decision striking down the Stolen Valor Act, which made it a crime to lie about having received military honors. The decision overturnd the conviction of Xavier Alvarez, a former member of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District governing board in eastern Los Angeles County who falsely claimed that he held the congressional Medal of Honor.  (That was only one of his whoppers.
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