On March 25, 2015 the Supreme Court decided Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, which was consolidated with Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama.
These cases ask whether Alabama's 2012 legislative redistricting plans classify black voters by race in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. A three-judge federal district court rejected plaintiffs’ challenge to the redistricting plan. By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court vacated that decision and remanded the case for further proceedings.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Breyer, the Court determined that the district court made four key errors: (1) treating the racial gerrymandering claim as referring to the State “as a whole,” rather than district-by-district; (2) finding that the Alabama Democratic Conference lacked standing.; (3) improperly calculating “predominance” in the alternative holding that “[r]ace was not the predominant motivating factor” in the creation of any of the challenged districts; and (4) concluding that “the [challenged] Districts would satisfy strict scrutiny.”
Justice Breyer's opinion for the Court was joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justice Scalia filed a dissent, which was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Thomas and Alito. Justice Thomas also filed a separate dissent.
To discuss the case, we have Stephen Davis, who is an associate at the Washington, D.C. office of Arent Fox.
On May 18, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan. This case asks two questions. The first is whether law enforcement officers are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act to accommodate a mentally ill suspect who is armed and hostile while they are bringing the suspect into custody. The second question is whether it was clearly established that even where an exception to the warrant requirement applied, an entry into a residence could be unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment by reason of the anticipated resistance of an armed and violent suspect within.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Alito, by a vote of 6-2, the Court dismissed the grant of certiorari on the first question as improvidently granted. On the second question, the Court held that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity from suit because they did not violate any clearly established Fourth Amendment rights. The Chief Justice and Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor joined Justice Alito's majority opinion. Justice Scalia filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, joined by Justice Kagan. Justice Breyer took no part in the consideration or decision of the case. The judgment of the Ninth Circuit was reversed in part and the case remanded.
To discuss the case, we have Tom Gede, who is a principal in Morgan Lewis Consulting LLC and of counsel to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.
On April 29, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Mach Mining v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This case involves the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) Title VII duty to investigate claims of discrimination levied against an employer and to make good faith efforts to eliminate discriminatory employment practices before filing suit against that employer. The question this case asks is whether and to what extent a court may enforce the EEOC's duty to conciliate discrimination claims before filing suit.
In a unanimous opinion delivered by Justice Kagan, the Court held that courts have the authority to review whether the EEOC has fulfilled its statutory duty to conciliate discrimination claims prior to filing suit against an employer. The judgment of the Seventh Circuit was vacated and remanded.
To discuss the case, we have Mr. Paul Mirengoff. Mr. Mirengoff is a retired attorney in Washington, D.C. and is a blogger at powerlineblog.com.
On January 20, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar. This case asks whether Florida’s rule of judicial conduct that prohibits candidates for judicial office from personally soliciting campaign funds violates the First Amendment.
In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court held by a vote of 5-4 that Florida's rule does not violate the First Amendment. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida was affirmed. Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined the Chief Justice’s opinion in full and Justice Ginsburg joined all except Part II. Justice Breyer filed a concurring opinion. Justice Ginsburg filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, which Justice Breyer joined as to Part II. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, which Justice Thomas joined. Justices Kennedy and Alito also filed dissenting opinions.
To discuss the case, we have Prof. Brian T. Fitzpatrick, a Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University Law School and Erik Jaffe, who is a sole practitioner at Erik S. Jaffe, PC.
On January 21, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Department of Homeland Security v. MacLean.
The question in this case concerns the Federal Whistleblower Protection Act, which prevents the government from terminating an employee for revealing “any violation of any law, rule, or regulation” or “a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety”--unless that revelation is "specifically prohibited by law." The question here is whether a federal air marshal’s disclosure that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had decided to cut costs by removing air marshals from certain long-distance flights was a disclosure “specifically prohibited by law.”
In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court held by a vote of 7-2 that the disclosure in this case was not “specifically prohibited by law.” The judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was affirmed. The Chief Justice’s opinion was joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, and Kagan. Justice Sotomayor issued a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justice Kennedy.
To discuss the case, we have Kevin Govern, who is an Associate Professor of Law at the Ave Maria School of Law.