On Wednesday, April 29, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Glossip v. Gross. The case turns on the efficacy of the first drug in Oklahoma’s three-drug execution protocol, the subject of controversy after a highly publicized botched execution last year; critics claim that this drug is unable to reliably produce the deep, coma-like unconsciousness necessary to avoid the pain and suffering that can result from the administration of the second and third drugs, and that the protocol violates the Eighth Amendment because of this. Oral arguments were expected to be revealing as to whether the court will focus narrowly on the specific execution method in question or range more broadly over important constitutional issues related to the death penalty.
Kent S. Scheidegger, Legal Director & General Counsel, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation
The long-anticipated gay marriage cases have now been argued in the Supreme Court. The questions presented are: whether the Fourteenth Amendment "require[s]" a "state to issue a marriage license to two people of the same sex", and/or "to recognize amarriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed" in another state or jurisdiction. Join a special Courthouse Steps edition of Teleforum as we discuss the oral argument: Which advocate seemed to fair best? Who fielded the most difficult questions? Which justices seemed most skeptical of which side of the argument? What are the possible outcomes of the case, and what are the implications of those possible outcomes?
Dr. John C. Eastman, Henry Salvatori Professor of Law & Community Service, Chapman University School of Law
On January 16, 2015, the Supreme Court granted cert in four same-sex marriage cases from the Sixth Circuit (one case from each of four states of the circuit, -- Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky). The questions presented in the cases are: whether the Fourteenth Amendment "require[s]" a "state to issue a marriage license to two people of the same sex", and/or "to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed" in another state or jurisdiction. This Teleforum previewed the strongest and weakest points of argument for each side in the case.
Prof. Gerard V. Bradley, University of Notre Dame Law School
Prof. Ilya Somin, George Mason University School of Law
In what has become a highly visible challenge to the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act, the D.C. Court of Appeals heard oral argument on April 16, 2015. The case is being viewed by some as a fundamental test of executive authority and the judiciary’s willingness to evaluate and rein in possible overreach. Is the rule, now in proposed form, ripe for challenge, at least in part because compliance with the rule requires a great deal of planning and expense even before its adoption? Has the EPA overreached and, if so, will the court intervene? Or has the EPA properly utilized its statutory rulemaking authority for what all parties indicate will be an important change in the way coal-fired power plants are able to operate?
Under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, the USDA has authority to regulate the sale of certain agricultural products, including California-grown raisins, through the use of “marketing orders.” The marketing order specific to California-grown raisins directs the Raisin Administrative Committee, a branch of the USDA, to establish a yearly raisin tonnage reserve requirement. Every year in February, raisin farmers are told what percentage of their crop is the “reserve requirement” they must turn over to the Committee. Failure to comply results in fines and penalties. In 2002 and 2003, the Horne family refused to comply and was fined over $700,000. In a 2013 decision, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that regulated entities cannot be compelled to pay regulatory fines before they may contest their constitutionality, under the Fifth Amendment’s protection against uncompensated government seizure of private property (the Takings Clause). On remand in Horne, the federal district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that there was no taking. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on April 22, 2015, and considered three questions: (1) Whether the government's “categorical duty” under the Fifth Amendment to pay just compensation when it “physically takes possession of an interest in property” applies only to real property and not to personal property; (2) whether the government may avoid the categorical duty to pay just compensation for a physical taking of property by reserving to the property owner a contingent interest in a portion of the value of the property, set at the government's discretion; and (3) whether a governmental mandate to relinquish specific, identifiable property as a “condition” on permission to engage in commerce effects a per se taking.