On June 29, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Glossip v. Gross. This case concerned three questions. The first was whether it is constitutional for a state to execute an inmate by administering a three-drug protocol in which a) there is some scientific agreement that the first drug does not sufficiently relieve pain or consistently render a person in a deep state of unconsciousness, and b) there is a substantial risk that administration of the second and third drugs would cause significant pain to a still-conscious prisoner. The second question was whether the plurality stay standard of Baze v. Rees is applicable when states are using a different execution protocol than the one involved in Baze v. Rees. The third question was whether, if a state's protocol for lethal injection will violate the Eighth Amendment, the legal duty to propose a different drug falls upon the prisoner.
In an opinion written by Justice Alito, the Court held by a vote of 5-4 that the prisoners failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the administration of midazolam as the first drug in a three drug execution protocol violates the Eighth Amendment. The Court also held that to prevail on an Eighth Amendment method-of-execution claim, the prisoner is required to prove that the protocol creates a "demonstrated risk" of severe pain and that the risk is substantial relative to available alternatives.
Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas joined the opinion of the Court. Justice Scalia filed a concurring opinion which Justice Thomas joined. Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion which Justice Scalia joined. Justice Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, which Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagan joined. The judgment of the Tenth Circuit was affirmed.
To discuss the case, we have Kent S. Scheidegger, who is Legal Director & General Counsel at the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.
On June 29, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency. The question in this case is whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted unreasonably when it did not consider the costs of compliance in determining whether it was appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Scalia, the Court held by a vote of 5-4 that the EPA acted unreasonably when it treated the costs of compliance as irrelevant. The judgment of the D.C. Circuit was reversed and the case remanded.
Chief Justice Roberts, as well as Justices Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito joined the opinion of the Court. Justice Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Justice Kagan filed a dissenting opinion, which justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor joined.
To discuss the case, we have Andrew Grossman, who is an associate at the law firm BakerHostetler.
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges. This highly anticipated case concerned two questions. The first is whether states are required by the Fourteenth Amendment to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The second question is whether states are required by the Fourteenth Amendment to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were lawfully married in a different state.
In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court held that States are required by the Fourteenth Amendment to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On the second question, the Supreme Court held that States are required by the Fourteenth Amendment to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples lawfully married out-of-state.
Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined the opinion of the Court. Chief Justice Roberts filed a dissenting opinion which Justices Scalia and Thomas joined. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, which Justice Thomas joined. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, which Justice Scalia joined. Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion which Justices Scalia and Thomas joined. The judgment of the Sixth Circuit was reversed.
To discuss the case, we have John Eastman, who is the Henry Salvatori Professor of Law & Community Service at Chapman University Fowler School of Law and Ilya Shapiro, who is Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute.
On June 25, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in King v. Burwell. The question in this highly anticipated case is whether the Affordable Care Act authorizes the Internal Revenue Service to offer tax credit subsidies for individuals purchasing health insurance through federal exchanges.
In an opinion delivered by the Chief Justice, the Court held by a vote of 6-3 that the tax credit subsidies authorized by section 36B of the Affordable Care Act for individuals purchasing health insurance through state exchanges are also available to individuals in states that have a federal exchange. The judgment of the Fourth Circuit was affirmed.
Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined the opinion of the Court. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion which Justices Thomas and Alito joined.
To discuss the case, we have Prof. Josh Blackman, who is an Assistant Professor of Law at the South Texas College of Law and Prof. Jonathan Adler who is the Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation at Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
On June 18, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Ohio v. Clark. This case involved two questions regarding the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause: (1) whether an individual’s obligation to report suspected child abuse makes that individual an agent of law enforcement for purposes of the Confrontation Clause; and (2) whether a child’s out-of-court statements to a teacher in response to the teacher’s concerns about potential child abuse qualify as “testimonial” statements subject to the Confrontation Clause. The Supreme Court of Ohio rejected Clark’s challenge to his conviction on these grounds.
The United States Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Supreme Court of Ohio by a vote of 9-0 and remanded the case. In an opinion delivered by Justice Alito and joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Breyer, Kennedy, Sotomayor, and Kagan, the Court held that because neither the child nor his teachers had the primary purpose of assisting in Clark’s prosecution, the child’s statements did not implicate the Confrontation Clause and therefore were admissible at trial. Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Ginsburg, filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Thomas also filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.
To discuss the case, we have Prof. Michael O’Shea, who is a Professor of Law at the Oklahoma City University School of Law.