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Big Wins For Gay Marriage

On the last day of the its term the Supreme Court today handed twin victories to the cause of marriage equality.

If there was an empty seat in the courtroom I couldn’t see it.

Justice Kennedy had the first opinion, U.S. v Windsor, in which the Court found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.And of course Justice Scalia read a lenghty dissent.

The second victory for same-sex marriage was by default in an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts where the Court found that the petitioners in support of California’s Proposition 8 lacked standing, thereby allowing the lower court’s ruling to stand.

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Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court

Fisher Fails to Finish ‘Firmative Action

On the first day of what promises to be a steamy week in Washington, at least outside the Supreme Court building, the Court announced its opinion in a long awaited affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas. When the case was argued back in October it appeared that the University’s use of race as an admissions factor might be struck down.Instead, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy, the Court said such programs must meet the test of “strict scrutiny” as well as being“narrowly tailored”.

Surprisingly, for a case argued at the beginning of the term, there was but one dissenter in the 7-1 decision (Justice Kagan took no part), Justice Ginsburg.

 ”The Court rightly declines to cast off the equal protection framework …”, writes Ginsburg. “Yet it stops short of reaching the conclusion that (it) warrants.”

Justice Alito took a sip from his coffee cup.

 

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Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court

The Supreme Court’s Health Care Opinion

My sketches from the announcement of the Court’s opinion, and dissents, on the Affordable Care Act. 6a00d8341cd0df53ef017742d379be970d-800wi

As they took their seats Justice Breyer was smiling; Sotomayor looked glum.

6a00d8341cd0df53ef017742d37ccf970d-piJustice Scalia was actually sitting as far back from Roberts as possible. Forgive the artistic license, but I wanted to get his expression in the frame. 6a00d8341cd0df53ef016767f89831970b-800wi

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Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court

Announcing the Court’s Opinion on Arizona Immigration Law

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Sketches of the Supreme Court announcing its opinion in Arizona v. U.S. The Court upheld in part and struck down in part Arizona’s law, SB 1070, aimed at curtailing illegal immigration. Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority…..SC120625_Kennedy

…..and Justice Scalia dissented.
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The Tucson Citizen has the story here.

 

 

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Opinions and Arguments

A couple of sketches from today at the Supreme Court :

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The Court heard arguments in two cases where juveniles were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Both prisoners were very ably represented by Bryan Stevenson, pictured above.

The Court also announced opinions in four cases. Pictured below, clockwise from the bottom right, are Justice Sotomayor, Justice Breyer, Justice Kennedy and Justice Ginsburg reading her dissent in Coleman v. Court of Appeals of Maryland. SC120320_justices

 

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Posted in Arguments, Opinions, Supreme Court

Today’s Opinion Sketches

The Supreme Court announced six opinions today.  I have sketches of four of those opinions being read by their authors : SC110623_Ginsburg

Justice Ginsburg had the the opinions in two cases, Bullcoming v. New Mexico and CSX v. McBride.

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Justice Thomas, who turned 63 today, had the opinion in PLIVA Inc v. Mensing.

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And Justice Kennedy read his opinion in Sorrell v. IMS Health.

It is beyond the capability of this wretched, inkstained courtartist to understand, much less explain the meaning of all these opinions, so I refer the reader to ScotusBlog.

 

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Release Valve Opened on Prison Overcrowding

The Supreme Court today upheld the release of over 30,000 prisoners in California as one remedy for overcrowding.  Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion in the bitterly divided, 5-4, case : Brown v. Plata  ( formerly Schwarzenegger  v. Plata when argued November 30, 2010 ). SC110523sketch_Kennedy
As is becoming more common in cases where there is sharp disagreement Justice Scalia read his pungent – adjective stolen from NYT’s Liptak - dissent from the bench as Kennedy – on the right below – stared straight ahead. SC110523sketch_Scalia

Andrew Cohen has written about the Court’s decision and the long simmering issue of growing prisoner population here.

 

 

 

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Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court

Taxpayers Lose Standing

In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court today ruled that ordinary citizens cannot challenge an Arizona program that gave a dollar-for-dollar credit to taxpayers who donated to a School Tuition Organizations, or STOs, which in turn direct money to religious activities.SC110404_Kennedy

In reading the opinion of the Court, Justice Kennedy said the taxpayers lacked “standing“.

Bloomberg has story here.

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New Constitutional Right for Juveniles

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In an opinion announced today by Justice Kennedy the Supreme Court prohibits the sentencing of juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole if the crime does not involve murder.  What this means for the 129 prisoners in state and federal penitentiaries convicted as minors and sentenced to life w/o parole is a chance to show that they are “fit to rejoin society”, but no guarantee that they will ever be freed.  And from now on every juvenile convicted of a “non-homicide” crime may not be sentenced to life at the outset, but must have the possibility of release; they can still be sentenced to a very long term guaranteeing their incarceration into old-age.

WaPo story here.

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“Partial birth” abortion ban

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In an opinion by Justice Kennedy (on the left in sketch) the Supreme Court today upheld the federal ban on certain late-term, so-called “partial birth”, abortions.  Justice Ginsberg (right) read her dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Stevens, Souter and Breyer.

Washington Post story here.

Lyle Denniston has an in depth post on ScotusBlog here.

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