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Elena Kagan

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.
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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
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.
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.
OPINION
February 24, 2013 | By Eric J. Segall
Over the next three months, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether to end affirmative action, whether to overturn part of one of the most important civil rights laws in our country's history (the Voting Rights Act) and whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to the same marriage benefits as heterosexual couples. In almost every term, the justices exercise veto power over fundamental policy questions such as abortion, gun control and freedom of speech and religion.
NATIONAL
June 25, 2012 | By Rene Lynch
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.
NATIONAL
April 5, 2011 | By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
The Supreme Court restored a death sentence for a Van Nuys murderer Monday, despite evidence that he suffered severe brain damage as a child. Scott Pinholster, who stabbed two men to death in a drug robbery gone bad in Tarzana in 1982, is an epileptic who suffered blows to the head in two auto accidents. His mother backed her car into him when he was 2, and his head slammed into the windshield during an accident a year or two later. By age 10, he was having outbursts at school. At 11, he was sent to a mental institution.
NATIONAL
June 30, 2010
"As a judge, you are on nobody's team. As a judge, you are an independent actor." Elena Kagan "You listen to her answers, you can see why Harvard picked her to be dean of the law school and you can see why she was picked to be the first woman as solicitor general. It was like being back and hearing some of the very best professors I had in law school listening to her answers. They were superb." Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) " She has been, in my view, a witness who has manifested a deep knowledge of the law, and she's certainly very adept at describing what she thinks about the law. By the same token, I think she's been very adept at avoiding very specific questions that could result in criticism of her point of view."
NATIONAL
June 24, 2011 | By David G. Savage, Washington Bureau
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.
BUSINESS
June 28, 2012 | By Ricardo Lopez and Chad Terhune
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.
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