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.
On this episode, we discuss the Court's decision this week in Kerry v. Din, which considered whether an American citizen may challenge in court the refusal of a visa to her husband and to require the government, in order to sustain the refusal, to identify a specific statutory provision rendering him inadmissible and to allege what it believes he did that would render him ineligible for a visa.
On this episode, we discuss the Court's decision last week in Zivotofsky v. Kerry, which considered whether a federal statute that directs the Secretary of State, on request, to record the birthplace of an American citizen born in Jerusalem as born in "Israel" on a Consular Report of Birth Abroad and on a United States passport is unconstitutional on the ground that the statute "impermissibly infringes on the President's exercise of the recognition power reposing exclusively in him."
On this episode we review the Court's decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal for an employer “to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s * * * religion.” "Religion” includes “all aspects of religious observance and practice” unless “an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate” a religious observance or practice “without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.” The question presented in this case was whether an employer can be liable under Title VII for refusing to hire an applicant or discharging an employee based on a “religious observance and practice” only if the employer has actual knowledge that a religious accommodation was required and the employer’s actual knowledge resulted from direct, explicit notice from the applicant or employee.
On this episode, we discuss the Court's decision in Elonis v. United States, which concerns whether conviction of threatening another person under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c) requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten or whether it is enough to show that a “reasonable person” would regard the statement as threatening.
On this episode, we discuss the Court's decision this week in Wellness International Network v. Sharif, which considered whether Article III permits the exercise of the judicial power of the United States by the bankruptcy courts on the basis of litigant consent, and if so, whether implied consent based on a litigant’s conduct is sufficient to satisfy Article III.
On this episode, we discuss the grant of review this week to the case of Evenwel v. Abbott. In Reynolds v. Sims (1964) the Supreme Court held that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment includes a “one-person, one-vote” principle. This principle requires that, “when members of an elected body are chosen from separate districts, each district must be established on a basis that will insure, as far as is practicable, that equal numbers of voters can vote for proportionally equal numbers of officials.” In 2013, the Texas Legislature enacted a State Senate map creating districts that, while roughly equal in terms of total population, grossly malapportioned voters. Appellants, who live in Senate districts significantly overpopulated with voters, brought a one-person, one-vote challenge, which the three-judge district court below dismissed for failure to state a claim. The district court held that Appellants’ constitutional challenge is a judicially unreviewable political question. The question presented is whether the “one-person, one-vote” principle of the Fourteenth Amendment creates a judicially enforceable right ensuring that the districting process does not deny voters an equal vote.
On this episode, we discuss the grant of review this week to the case of Foster v. Humphrey, which considers a capital case involving a black defendant and a white victim, wherein Georgia struck all four black prospective jurors and provided roughly a dozen “race-neutral” reasons for each of the four strikes. The prosecutor later argued that the jury should impose a death sentence to “deter other people out there in the projects.” At the trial level and on direct appeal, Georgia’s courts denied the defendant’s claim of race discrimination under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986). In habeas proceedings, the defendant obtained the prosecution’s notes from jury selection, which were previously withheld. The notes reflect that the prosecution (1) marked the name of each black prospective juror in green highlighter on four different copies of the jury list; (2) circled the word “BLACK” next to the “Race” question on the juror questionnaires of five black prospective jurors; (3) identified three black prospective jurors as “B#1,” “B#2,” and “B#3”; (4) ranked the black prospective jurors against each other in case “it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors;” and (5) created strike lists that contradict the “race-neutral” explanation provided by the prosecution for its strike of one of the black prospective jurors. The Georgia courts again declined to find a Batson violation. Did the Georgia courts err in failing to recognize race discrimination under Batson in the extraordinary circumstances of this death penalty case?
On this episode, we discuss the Court's decision this week in Comptroller of Maryland v. Wynne, wherein the Court considered the question of whether a state may refuse to offer a credit to its citizens for taxes paid for income earned out-of-state, in effect causing their residents to be subject to double taxation. Wilson Huhn reports.
On this episode, we review the oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges (one of four cases consolidated for review on the Gay Marriage question).
On this episode, Mahsa Saeidi looks at how the media reacted to and reported on the oral arguments in the gay marriage cases.
On this episode we present the unabridged oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges (and the consolidated cases), concerning the constitutionality of states refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. The oral arguments were divided to consider two separate questions. The Court reserved 90 minutes of oral arguments to consider whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. The Court then reserved one hour of oral arguments to consider whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.
On this episode, we review the oral arguments in Glossip v. Gross, wherein the Court considered the constitutionality of Oklahoma's lethal-injection drug delivery protocol.
On this episode, we review the Court's decision in Rodriguez v. United States, which considered the following issue: The Court has held that, during an otherwise lawful traffic stop, asking a driver to exit a vehicle, conducting a drug sniff with a trained canine, or asking a few off-topic questions are "de minimis" intrusions on personal liberty that do not require reasonable suspicion of criminal activity in order to comport with the Fourth Amendment. This case poses the question of whether the same rule applies after the conclusion of the traffic stop, so that an officer may extend the already-completed stop for a canine sniff without reasonable suspicion or other lawful justification.
On this episode, Professor Wilson Huhn reflects on the five most common legal arguments and how it is that so many Americans disagree on the meaning of the laws that govern them.
On this episode, we review the Court's recent decision in Young v. UPS. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) provides that “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes * * * as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k). In July 2006, Young sought, and UPS granted, a leave of absence so that she could undergo a round of in vitro fertilization. The round was successful, and Young became pregnant. In October 2006, Young gave her supervisor and UPS’s occupational health manager a note from her midwife recommending that she not lift over twenty pounds during her pregnancy. Young explained that she wanted to return to work, and “that she was willing to do either light duty or her regular job.” The manager explained that “UPS offered light duty for those with on-the-job injuries, those accommodated under the ADA, and those who had lost [Department of Transportation] certification, but not for pregnancy,” and that “UPS policy did not permit Young to continue working as an air driver with her twenty-pound lifting restriction.” In November, Young spoke to UPS’s division manager, who “told her she was ‘too much of a liability’ while pregnant and that she ‘could not come back into the [facility in which she worked] until [she] was no longer pregnant.’" As a result, Young was required to go on an extended, unpaid leave of absence, during which she lost her medical coverage. She did not return to work until June 2006, just short of two months after she gave birth. The question presented is: Whether, and in what circumstances, an employer that provides work accommodations to nonpregnant employees with work limitations must provide work accommodations to pregnant employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.”