March 21, 2012 |
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.
June 24, 2011 |
The Supreme Court on Thursday put an extra burden on crime labs, declaring that a man accused of drunken driving has the right to demand that a lab technician testify in person about a blood test that showed he was impaired. The 5-4 decision was the latest to extend the reach of a defendant's constitutional right "to be confronted with the witnesses against him. " And once again, the outcome was driven by an unusual coalition of conservative and liberal justices. Two years ago, the court said a crime lab technician was a witness for the prosecution and, therefore, must be available to testify.
June 28, 2012 |
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.
January 25, 2011 |
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.
May 12, 2010 |
If confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, Elena Kagan will bring greater diversity to the court by adding a third woman. What she will not bring is educational diversity. Her confirmation will leave the court entirely composed of former law students at either Harvard or Yale. The decision of President Obama to select a nominee from one of these two schools is particularly disappointing as a replacement for Justice John Paul Stevens — an iconic figure on the court who was also its only graduate from an alternative institution (Northwestern)
June 26, 2013 |
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.
June 28, 2012 |
With the U.S. Supreme Court upholding President Obama's Affordable Care Act, state officials and healthcare leaders met the decision with mixed reaction, largely along party lines. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, called the ruling on Twitter "great news for America's families. " And Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, in a statement, also heralded the news: "The Supreme Court today upheld the healthcare reform law passed by Congress in 2010, meaning Californians can be confident that access to affordable health insurance is finally a reality.
April 27, 2014 |
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.
June 16, 2011 |
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.
June 25, 2012 |
They might well be the most powerful men and women in the nation, but most Americans probably couldn't pick the members of the U.S. Supreme Court out of a lineup. (Unless perhaps they were the only ones wearing long black robes.) As the court's current term draws to a close, it's issuing a series of monumental decisions this week that will affect every man, woman and child in the country. Today alone, the court handed down a split decision on Arizona's controversial immigration law, and ruled that it was unconstitutional to send juveniles to prison for life without the possibility of parole.