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Historic Day For Gay Couples

Gay-rights lawyers were seated in the first rows close to the bench when the opinion in Obergefell v Hodges was announced by Justice Kennedy. As it became clear that they had won big, that the Court had recognized a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, smiles broke out, backs were patted, and, once the Justices had left the bench, hugs all around.

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Long Awaited Decision On Presidential Powers

Menachem Zivotofsky was born in 2002, the same year congress passed the Foreign Relations Authorization Act with a provision that U.S. passports listing the place of birth as Jerusalem should, upon request, also list Israel. Zivotofsky’s parents did just that, and the case had been kicking up and down the courthouse steps for years. Yesterday it concluded with a big win for the President.

It appears that Justice Kennedy’s opinion enshrines a presidential power nowhere mentioned, though implied, in the Constitution, namely recognition of foreign powers. “Recognition is a topic on which the Nation must ‘speak . . . with one voice,’” writes Kennedy.  “That voice must be the President’s.”

Justice Scalia, along with Justice Alito and the Chief Justice, dissented. Justice Thomas also dissented in part, making the decision either 6-3, 5-4 0r even 5 ½-3 ½ depending on who you listen to.

The case is Zivotofsky v. Kerry, and you can read about yesterday’s decision here and here.

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David 2, Goliath 1

Little POM Wonderful scored a victory at the Supreme Court yesterday allowing it to go ahead and sue giant Coca-Cola for misleading consumers into believing that its pomegranate-blueberry drink might actually contain more than just 0.5 percent of the juices. The result was not unexpected; during arguments in April, Justice Kennedy asked the lawyer for the Real Thing, “Is it Coke’s position that national uniformity consists in labels that cheat the consumers like this one did?”

The case is POM Wonderful v. Coca-Cola, and I’m going to go have a Coke.

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Sketches of Two Opinions

The Supreme Court is now in that final stretch of the October 2013 Term when it remains, after all cases have been argued, to issue opinions before recessing at the end of June. Today the Court announced its decisions in four cases, two of which I sketched below.

Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion in Hall v. Florida, ruling that an IQ score one point above the threshold should not be enough to make someone eligible for the death penalty.

And in a case where the Secret Service was sued for moving protesters opposed to President Bush further away than another group supporting the president the Court sided with the Secret Service. Justice Ginsburg had the opinion in Wood v. Moss.

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The Come To Jesus Court

I used to have a naive belief that the courts were there to protect the rights of individuals and minorities but a couple of recent Supreme Court decisions show how mistaken I was. Two weeks ago in Schuette, and yesterday in Town of Greece, Justice Kennedy has come to the defense of the poor put-upon, oppressed by a hypersensitive minority, majority.

In a deeply divided plurality opinion the Court endorsed prayer at town-board meetings even if they almost exclusively invoked the name of Jesus – after all the town is majority Christian – as long as they don’t ” . . . threaten damnation, or preach conversion”.

All you others, stop whining.

Garrett Epps has it very well here.

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , , , ,

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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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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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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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

 

Posted in Arguments, Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , , , ,
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