Summary: What's New at the United States Supreme Court? Each week we bring you up to date coverage of the most recent cases and decisions before SCOTUS, discussing the Supreme Court's most recent grants and denials of certiorari, orders, opinions, oral arguments and constitutional jurisprudence. We also present in-depth special reports on the justices, important constitutional rights and the most controversial legal issues of our time (e.g. Abortion, Affirmative Action, Gay Rights, Women's Rights, Privacy, Campaign Finance, Same-Sex Marriage, Patent Law, Criminal Law and First Amendment Law). An essential podcast for any law school student or layperson interested in learning more about the Supreme Court and the United States Constitution.
The Court’s decision in New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992), held that the Constitution’s fundamental federal structure does not permit Congress to “directly . . . compel the States to require or prohibit [certain] acts.” In September 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”), 28 U.S.C. § 3701 et seq., against a constitutional challenge under New York by construing PASPA’s proscription against States “authoriz[ing]” sports wagering “by law” narrowly to prohibit only the “affirmative ‘authorization by law’ of gambling schemes,” and not repeals by States of exist- ing sports wagering prohibitions. After New Jersey then proceeded to repeal certain of its prohibitions on sports wagering in specified venues in the State, the en banc court reversed course and interpreted PASPA as making it “unlawful” for New Jersey to repeal its prohibitions and affirmed an injunction that requires the State to reinstate the repealed state-law prohibitions. The court then held that it was constitutional for federal law to dictate the extent to which States must maintain their prohibitions on sports wagering. The question presented is: Does a federal statute that prohibits modification or repeal of state-law prohibitions on private conduct impermissibly commandeer the regulatory power of States in contravention of New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992)?
On this episode we review the Court's recent decision in Buck v. Davis, wherein the Court considers whether Mr. Buck's trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for knowingly presenting an “expert” who testified that Mr. Buck was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is Black, where future dangerousness was both a prerequisite for a death sentence and the central issue at sentencing.
On this episode, we review the oral arguments last week in Lee v. Tam. Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1052(a), provides that no trademark shall be refused registration on account of its nature unless, inter alia, it "[c]onsists of . . . matter which may disparage . . . persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute." The question presented by the case is whether the disparagement provision in 15 U.S.C. 1052(a) is facially invalid under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.
On this episode we consider a delay granted by the Court in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., a case which the Supreme Court was expected to hear this Term concerning whether states are bound by a Department of Education interpretation of Title IX and 34 C.F.R. § 106.33, which provides that a funding recipient providing sex-separated facilities must “generally treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.”
On this episode we review the Court's recent grant of review to the case of Los Angeles County v. Mendez, which considers the merits of the Ninth Circuit's application of its "Provocation Rule" and whether that rule conflicts with Supreme Court precedent. Under the “provocation” rule, an officer may be held responsible for an otherwise reasonable use of force where the officer intentionally or recklessly provoked a violent confrontation, and the provocation was itself an independent Fourth Amendment violation.
Whether it violates the Eighth Amendment and this Court’s decisions in Hall v. Florida and Atkins v. Virginia to prohibit the use of current medical standards on intellectual disability, and require the use of outdated medical standards, in determining whether an individual may be executed.
On this episode, we review the Court's recent grant of review to Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., which considers whether courts should extend deference to an unpublished agency letter that requires publicly funded schools to "treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity” in the use of bathrooms.
On this episode we discuss a case to be heard in oral arguments this week concerning a rule of evidence that prohibits the introduction of juror testimony regarding statements made during deliberations when offered to challenge the jury’s verdict. The question here is whether that rule applies when a defendant is attempting to prove a violation of the Sixth Amendment's "right to an impartial jury."
This term the Court considers the case of Lee v. Tam, which considers whether Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1052(a), is constitutional. Section 2(a) prohibits the registration of a trademark that “may disparage ... persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” In this case, the Government denied a trademark to "The Slants," an Asian-American rock band based in Portland. In choosing to name the band "The Slants," Simon Tam sought to make a statement on discrimination against Asian-Americans.
On this episode we review the Court's decision in McDonnell v. United States, which considers whether a former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell was given a fair trial when he was convicted under the federal bribery statute (18 U. S. C. §201), which makes it a crime for “a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly” to demand, seek, receive, accept, or agree “to receive or accept anything of value” in return for being “influenced in the performance of any official act.” Specifically, the Court considered whether it was appropriate for the trial court to refuse Governor McDonnell's request to specifically instruct the jury that “merely arranging a meeting, attending an event, hosting a reception, or making a speech are not, standing alone, ‘official acts."
On this episode, we review the Court's decision this week in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, which considered whether a Texas law that had the effect of closing half of the abortion clinics in the state constituted “[u]nnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion" that the Court had declared unconstitutional in its landmark 1992 case Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey.
On this episode we review the Court's decision in Birchfield v. North Dakota, which considered whether in the absence of a warrant, a State may make it a crime for a person to refuse to take a chemical test to detect the presence of alcohol in the person’s blood.
This case concerns nearly $2 billion of bonds in which Bank Markazi, the Central Bank of Iran, held an interest in Europe as part of its foreign currency reserves. Plaintiffs, who hold default judgments against Iran, tried to seize the assets. While the case was pending, Congress enacted §502 of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, 22 U.S.C. §8772. By its terms, that statute applies only to this one case: to “the financial assets that are identified in and the subject of proceedings in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Peterson et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran et al. “In order to ensure that Iran is held accountable for paying the judgments,” it provides that, notwithstanding any other state or federal law, the assets “shall be subject to execution” upon only two findings—essentially, that Bank Markazi has a beneficial interest in them and that no one else does. The question presented is: Whether §8772—a statute that effectively directs a particular result in a single pending case—violates the separation of powers.
On this episode, we review the Court's oral arguments in United States v. Texas, which considers whether a State has Article III standing and a justiciable cause of action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. § 500 et seq., to challenge the Secretary’s exercise of immigration enforcement discretion, simply because an increase in the number of immigrants receiving deferred action might ultimately increase the net costs of the State’s driver’s license program.
On this episode we review the Court's decision in Heffernan v. Paterson, N.J., which considered whether the First Amendment bars the government from demoting a public employee based on a supervisor's perception that the employee supports a political candidate, even if that perception is inaccurate.