SCOTUS Watch …
The Supreme Court will be releasing opinions Thursday morning at 10am Eastern and then next week on Monday, June 30th to finish the term. SCOTUSblog will liveblog here today starting at 9:45 Eastern.
SCOTUSblog: October 2013 Term, major cases pending
DECISION: Buffer zones are unconstitutional. Unanimous. PDF Ruling
McCullen v. Coakley, No. 12-1168 [Arg: 1.15.2014]
Issue(s): (1) Whether the First Circuit erred in upholding Massachusetts’ selective exclusion law – which makes it a crime for speakers other than clinic “employees or agents . . . acting within the scope of their employment” to “enter or remain on a public way or sidewalk” within thirty-five feet of an entrance, exit, or driveway of “a reproductive health care facility” – under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, on its face and as applied to petitioners; (2) whether, if Hill v. Colorado permits enforcement of this law, Hill should be limited or overruled.
DECISION: Recess appointments in Canning case were invalid. Unanimous. Recess appointments in general are valid but the recess must be at least 10 days. Unanimous but with Scalia dissent on reasoning. PDF Ruling
National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, No. 12-1281 [Arg: 1.13.2014]
Issue(s): (1) Whether the President’s recess-appointment power may be exercised during a recess that occurs within a session of the Senate, or is instead limited to recesses that occur between enumerated sessions of the Senate; (2) whether the President’s recess-appointment power may be exercised to fill vacancies that exist during a recess, or is instead limited to vacancies that first arose during that recess; and (3) whether the President’s recess-appointment power may be exercised when the Senate is convening every three days in pro forma sessions.
Harris v. Quinn, No. 11-681 [Arg: 1.21.2014]
Issue(s): (1) Whether a state may, consistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, compel personal care providers to accept and financially support a private organization as their exclusive representative to petition the state for greater reimbursements from its Medicaid programs; and (2) whether the lower court erred in holding that the claims of providers in the Home Based Support Services Program are not ripe for judicial review.
Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, No. 13-356 [Arg: 3.25.2014]
Issue(s): Whether the religious owners of a family business, or their closely held, for-profit corporation, have free exercise rights that are violated by the application of the contraceptive-coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act.
Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, No. 13-354 [Arg: 3.25.2014]
Issue(s): Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb et seq., which provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.
Analysis and Commentary on yesterday’s cases below …
Yesterday’s rulings …
In 1973, the Supreme Court held that police officers did not need a warrant to look inside a pack of cigarettes that they found in the coat pocket of a man who had been arrested. Those kinds of warrantless searches were allowed, the Court reasoned back then, to protect police officers and to prevent the destruction of evidence.
Forty years later, California and the federal government urged the Supreme Court to adopt the same rule for cellphones. Once someone is arrested, they contended, police should be able to go through the entire contents of his phone without a warrant because cellphones are just like any other item that you can carry in your hand or pocket. But today the Supreme Court emphatically rejected that argument. Therefore, unless it’s an emergency, police need to get a warrant before they can search your cellphone.
Today, there are still many questions courts must consider about how our understanding of privacy should evolve to meet the challenges of an era where millions of people carry computers in their pockets that are more powerful than anything that existed 50 years ago. Yet, with its decision in Riley v. United States, the justices took an important step towards lifting our Constitution out of what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used to call the “horse-and-buggy age.” As of today, in nearly all circumstances, the police must obtain a warrant before they can search through your cell phone.
Insisting that it was not striking a blow against new communications technology, the Supreme Court on Wednesday nevertheless took a sizeable step toward shutting down at least part of a fresh approach to delivering TV programs to paying audiences. It ruled that the engineers at the new firm of Aereo, Inc. had – so far – not found a way to avoid violating television networks’ copyright privileges by delivering their programs to Aereo’s customers for a small monthly fee.
The analytical technique the Court used in finding a likely copyright violation by Aereo was to compare its streaming of Internet-based TV programs to cable TV systems’ snatching of TV broadcasts out of the airwaves for re-delivery to customers. Congress meant to bar that kind of programming in a major 1976 revision of the Copyright Act, the Court said, and it applied that change directly to Aereo’s clever new business model.
A day after Congress tackled the controversial AT&T and DirecTV merger, broadcast companies scored a big win Wednesday. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday morning that Internet TV start-up Aereo violates broadcast companies’ copyright, effectively putting the company out of business.
The ruling, coupled with the impending merger, dredges up long held public fears that giant telecom and broadcast networks are bad for customers and could kill the Internet as we know it. A recent study found that a majority of consumers wanted the court to rule in favor of Aereo, while just 15 percent hoped for a ruling for broadcast companies. Yet despite their vast unpopularity, these conglomerates always seem to win out over new and emerging technologies.