Tag Archives: Supreme Court of the United States

SCOTUS: First Amendment protects sex offenders' use of social media

Source: New York Daily News

"Social media use is a constitutional right — even for sex offenders, the Supreme Court decided Monday. The justices unanimously ruled that it’s fine for convicted sex offenders to use social media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn, as long as they aren’t breaking the law while doing so. This is one of the Supreme Court’s few cases so far about the constitutionality of social media, and one of the few major decisions to say online access is a basic American right. The decision struck down a North Carolina law that banned sex offenders from logging onto social media." (06/19/17)


SCOTUS strikes down rule against disparaging trademarks

Source: Hollywood Reporter

"Those of fiendish or mischievous mind will have an easier time registering trademarks after the Supreme Court on Monday decided to reject as unconstitutional a rule against disparaging ones. The high court's decision, authored by justice Samuel Alito, holds that a Lanham Act provision against such offensive trademarks is facially invalid under the First Amendment. … The free speech victory goes to Simon Tam, the Asian-American frontman for The Slants who attempted to register his rock band's name. He says he picked his band's moniker in an effort to reclaim a stereotype. After trademark examiners refused Tam's application, Tam brought a lawsuit, and in December 2015, he prevailed at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Supreme Court has now affirmed the lower appeals court's opinion, which is also potentially welcome news for the NFL's Washington Redskins, whose own marks were canceled for being disparaging to Native Americans." (06/19/17)


SCOTUS to hear potentially landmark case on partisan gerrymandering

Source: Salt Lake Tribune

"The Supreme Court declared Monday that it will consider whether gerrymandered election maps favoring one political party over another violate the Constitution, a potentially fundamental change in the way American elections are conducted. … The court accepted a case from Wisconsin, where a divided panel of three federal judges last year ruled that the state's Republican leadership in 2011 pushed through a plan so partisan that it violated the Constitution's First Amendment and equal rights protections. The issue will be briefed and argued in the Supreme Court term that begins in October." (06/19/17)


Cell phone searches: SCOTUS to rule on whether 4th Amendment exists

Source: USA Today

"Your cellphone service provider knows where you've been. Now the Supreme Court will decide if its OK for police to find out as well — without a warrant. The justices agreed Monday to hear what will be the latest in a string of cases testing the clash of technology and privacy. The challenge comes from a man convicted of armed robberies in Michigan and Ohio, for whom police accessed 127 days of cell phone records, revealing 12,898 points of location data. The suspect, Timothy Carpenter, was convicted and then lost a 2-1 federal appeals court ruling in which he argued that police should have sought a warrant." [editor's note: It's dumb that this made it past the first hearing of the lowest court without the fruit of the illegal search being thrown out – TLK] (06/05/17)


SCOTUS: Patent trolls' loss is a win for honest commerce

Source: Garrison Center
by Thomas L Knapp

"On May 22, the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously — and correctly — on a fairly obscure case that nonetheless has huge implications in an area where millions or even billions of dollars are frequently at stake. In TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Group Brands, the Court came down against the practice of 'forum shopping' in patent disputes. Hopefully this will reduce the incidence of 'patent trolling.'" (05/23/17)


US Supreme Court limits "venue shopping" for patent cases

Source: The Hill

"A Supreme Court decision on Monday will limit the controversial practice of 'venue shopping' — where plaintiffs pick court locations that they believe will be favorable to the cases they’re arguing. The court reversed a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision from last year that had been used as justification for bringing cases to venues wherever the companies involved happened to conduct business. Companies will now be required to bring lawsuits to where the targeted company is incorporated." (05/22/17)


SCOTUS rules in favor of debt collector in bankruptcy dispute

Source: Raw Story

"The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to debt collectors, ruling that people who have filed for bankruptcy cannot sue companies that tried to recoup old debt that was not required to be paid back under state statutes of limitations. The justices, in a 5-3 decision, ruled in favor of Midland Funding, a subsidiary of Encore Capital Group Inc, which was sued by an Alabama debtor named Aleida Johnson who entered bankruptcy in 2014. The court’s newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, did not participate in the ruling." (05/15/17)


SCOTUS refuses appeal of ruling against North Carolina's "make it hard for African-Americans to vote" law

Source: NBC News

"The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear North Carolina's appeal of a court ruling that found its legislature intended to discriminate against minorities in enacting one of the toughest voter ID laws in the nation. As is the court's usual custom, no explanation was given for turning down the appeal, and no vote was noted. … In a blistering decision last July, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said the state legislature explicitly set out to discover the kind of accommodations that minority voters use most often and then to roll back or eliminate them, targeting African Americans 'with almost surgical precision.'" (05/15/17)


The Supreme Court does not want to hear this nonsense challenge to a ban on conversion therapy

Source: Mother Jones
by Ashley Dejean

"The Supreme Court declined to take up a challenge to California's conversion therapy ban this week, effectively upholding the law that prohibits licensed counselors such as social workers and therapists from offering therapy aimed at changing a minor's sexual orientation or gender identity, a practice that's been widely discredited as ineffective and harmful. … The lead plaintiff fighting the law was Donald Welch, an evangelical minister and licensed therapist who's in charge of counseling at the Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego. This is the second time the Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to California's ban on conversion therapy from Welch, who first argued it violated free-speech protections. In the most recent case, Welch joined with other plaintiffs to claim the ban violates their right to freely practice their religion." (05/03/17)


SCOTUS to decide if prosecution, defense can share experts in capital case

Source: National Public Radio [US state media]

"[T]he U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a case that could determine the fate of two of the condemned men in the Razorback state, as well as others on death row elsewhere. At issue is whether an indigent defendant whose sanity is a significant factor in his trial, is entitled to assistance from a mental health expert witness who is independent of the prosecutors. In 1986 James McWilliams was convicted of the rape and murder of a store clerk in Tuscaloosa, Ala. It is not his conviction that is before the court, but his death sentence. … the jury, by a vote of 10-to-2 recommended he be put to death. Under Alabama law, however, a jury recommendation is not binding on the judge. The critical sentencing hearing in McWilliams'[s] case took place six weeks later and after the defense requested a neuropsychological evaluation of the defendant." (04/24/17)