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The 2014 Supreme Court

The NY Times has compiled a list, complete with pictures of the Justices, of Key Supreme Court Decisions in 2014. The list shows how the Justices decided the cases and the impact of those judicial decisions. Here is a quick summary:

GREENHOUSE GASES

Utility Air v. E.P.A. (June 23, 2014)

THE DECISION    The court largely upheld the E.P.A’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases from stationary sources like power plants under two permitting programs.

PREVIOUSLY       In 2007, the court required the E.P.A. to regulate greenhouse gases if it found that they endangered public health.

OUTLOOK            The E.P.A. had a good year at the court, but its more ambitious efforts to address climate change remain open to legal challenges.

MAJORITY Justice listing for this case:

For (7-2 vote): Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kennedy, Roberts. Scalia Against: Thomas and Alito

DEATH PENALTY

Hall v. Florida (May 27, 2014)

THE DECISION    The court rejected Florida’s I.Q. cutoff as too rigid to decide which mentally disabled people must be spared the death penalty.

PREVIOUSLY       The case followed and refined a 2002 ruling from the court that banned the execution of the mentally disabled but left the determination largely to the states.

OUTLOOK            The decision, which may spare the lives of perhaps 20 death row inmates, is part of the court’s incremental approach to cutting back eligibility for the death penalty. Earlier decisions had spared juvenile offenders and people who commited crimes other than murder.

For (5-4): Sotomayor Kagan Ginsburg Breyer Kennedy Against: Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito

RELIGION

Town of Greece v. Galloway (May 5, 2104)

THE DECISION    The court ruled that town boards may start their meetings with sectarian prayers, rejecting a First Amendment challenge from residents who said the practice offended them.

PREVIOUSLY       In 1983, the court upheld the Nebraska Legislature’s practice of starting its sessions with a prayer, saying the practice was “deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country.”

OUTLOOK            The decision, along with earlier ones, suggests that the Roberts court is open to a larger role for religion in public life.

For (5-4): Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito  Against: Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg and Breyer  A

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

Schuette v. BAMN (April 22, 2014)

THE DECISION    The court upheld a Michigan voter initiative that banned taking race into account  in the admission of the state’s public universities.

PREVIOUSLY       The court has said race-conscious admissions are sometimes constitutionally permissible, though under increasingly exacting standards. The new decision essentially said the practice is not constitutionallly required.

OUTLOOK            In 2013, the justices instructed an appeals court to take a fresh look at the University of Texas’ admissions practices. That case may yet return to the Supreme Court for another showdown over affirmative action.

Justice Kagan recused herself

For (6-2) Breyer Kennedy Roberts Scalia Thomas Alito  Against: Ginsburg and Sotomayor

CAMPAIGN FINANCE

McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (April 2, 2014)

THE DECISION    The court struck down overall limits for contributions from individuals to candidates and political parties. It did not disturb base limits of $2,600 per election.

PREVIOUSLY       The court had never before struck down a federal contribution limit.

OUTLOOK            The Roberts court has been consistently hostile to campaign finance regulation. Experts say other limits are now at risk, including base contribution limits for individuals, the ban on corporate contributions (as opposed to the independent expenditures allowed in Citizens United) and public financing of elections.

For (5-4): Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito  Against: Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsburg and Breyer

There are still several key cases to be decided that include cellphone searches,; rights relating to streaming video of broadcast television; Contraceptive coverage in insurance plans and religion; Buffer zones around abortion clinics; and when the President may Constitutionally make recess appointments.

DID YOU KNOW that Sir Miles Partridge once played dice with King Henry VIII and bet 100 pounds against the bells of St. Paul’s Church? Partridge won… and collected the bells.

And for pic o’ day, some pictures need no caption:

help

Scared in Trial?

There are some lawyers who have chosen  business or real estate closings, for their practice of law. One of my old bosses was quick to tell people that he did not enjoy the Courtroom.

Part of happiness is to find what you enjoy and do it. During my first year of practice, I did a closing and determined to never do another one.

This pic o’ day is a reminder that you can’t be scared to go to trial, if you are a trial lawyer. You also can’t drive a boat, if you are a scared Corgi.

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