February 24, 2013 |
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.
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 3, 2013 |
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.
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)
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 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.
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.
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 13, 2010 |
A controversy over military recruiting at Harvard Law School while Elena Kagan was dean may say less about her views on the military than it does about her strong belief in equal rights for gays and lesbians, one of the foremost unsettled issues before the Supreme Court. In a series of memos to the faculty and students, Kagan described the military's policy of excluding openly gay men and women as "a profound wrong — a moral injustice of the first order." "It is a wrong that tears at the fabric of our own community because some of our members cannot, while others can, devote their professional careers to their country," she wrote in 2003, shortly after becoming dean.
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.