Supreme Court Tag

On Friday night, the Supreme Court denied a request for an injunction by a church in Nevada seeking to hold in person services on the same terms as other facilities in the State, including casinos.  The order limits religious gatherings to 50 people while allowing restaurants and casinos to operate as 50% capacity. The majority that denied the injunction offered no written opinion accompanying its decision (which is not unusual for this type of request), but Justice Alito (joined by Justices...

Today, in a 5-4 decision, in McGirt v. Oklahoma, the Supreme Court held that a large swath of eastern Oklahoma, including most of the city of Tulsa, is “Indian country” for the purposes of the Major Crimes Act (MCA).  In a decision that was as much a history lesson as a debate over statutory text and interpretation, the majority concluded that Congress never disestablished the Creek Nation reservation in Oklahoma and therefore, the state of Oklahoma lacked jurisdiction to criminally...

Today, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court held that the current administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but 8 Justices agreed that the decision did not constitute and Equal Protection violation.  The facts in this case were fairly unusual because everyone agreed that administration could rescind DACA at any time because it does not like the policy.  But instead, the federal government has...

The Supreme Court held in a 6-3 opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County, that an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII.  Writing for the majority, Justice Gorsuch explains “[s]ex plays a necessary and undisguisable role” in an employer’s decision to “fire an individual for being homosexual or transgender”, which is “exactly what Title VII forbids.” The textualist opinion includes numerous examples of why it is “impossible to discriminate against a person for being...

Maryville Baptist Church, Inc. v. Beshear, no. 20-cv-5427 (6th Cir. May 2, 2020). The Sixth Circuit reverses in part a lower court refusal to grant a church's motion for restraining order against the Kentucky Governor's orders which did not include churches as "essential services," enjoining the state from taking action against drive-in church services.  On March 19, 2020, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (Beshear) issued an order prohibiting "[a]ll mass gatherings," "including, but not limited to, community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting...

Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc., No. 18-1150, 590 U.S. ___ (Apr. 27, 2020). Affirming the Eleventh Circuit-which had reversed the lower court, the Supreme Court holds that annotations to the Georgia Code are effectively produced by lawmakers, who cannot be "authors" for purposes of the Copyright Act, meaning that Lexis, which contracts with the State to license and distribute the annotated code, cannot prevent the annotated version from being placed in the public domain. The Copyright Act grants monopoly protection for "original...

Last week, in a 7-2 decision in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, the Supreme Court struck down Minnesota’s law barring “political apparel” from a polling place on Election Day because even in a nonpublic forum, “the State must be able to articulate some sensible basis for distinguishing what may come in from what must stay out.” Although Minnesota lost the case, the Court affirmed that States (and local governments) may validly exclude certain forms of advocacy, including passive advocacy like...

In a 5-4 decision which resulted in 4 separate dissents, today, the Supreme Court held in Carpenter v. United States that the government conducts a search for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment when it obtains a cell phone user’s cell-site location information (CSLI) from a third party wireless provider. Although the Court explained the Orwellian implications of allowing the government to have “near perfect” retrospective surveillance of a user, “as if it had attached an ankle monitor to the...

It is estimated that states and local governments lose between $8 and $33 billion dollars each year as a result of the Supreme Court’s “physical presence” requirement. In a huge win for state and local governments, today, the Supreme Court announced in a 5-4 opinion that the “physical presence rule” for the purpose of requiring out of state sellers to collect and remit sales tax is “unsound and incorrect,” has limited States’ and local governments’ “ability to seek long-term prosperity,”...

Today, in narrow 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court decided Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission in favor of the cakemaker, concluding that in adjudicating whether his religion “must yield to an otherwise valid exercise of state power,” (here the anti-discrimination provision of the state’s public accommodation law), the Colorado Civil Rights Commission failed to consider the case “with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires.” This cases presented, as Justice Kennedy put it, “difficult questions as to the proper...