In addition to its widely-reported orders regarding the Trump administration travel ban, the U.S. Supreme Court finished its term this week deciding five other cases – several of which affect your Liberty so read on…
Discussed more fully here by Liberty Nation’s Graham Noble, this case decided whether the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ express policy of denying grants to any applicant owned or controlled by a church, sect or other religious entity violated the First Amendment rights of the applicants. The Court ruled that it did impermissibly violate those rights in a 7-2 decision written by Chief Justice Roberts with Justice Ginsburg joining Justice Sotomayor’s dissent.
This case concerns a class action case member, and their decision to opt out of the class and file suit separately. They did so, but were they too late? The Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that they were indeed and that consequently their case could be dismissed. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Roberts, Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch, while Ginsburg dissented and was joined by Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer.
This case presents a highly technical question concerning how and when a defendant must present a certain type of claim regarding “Ineffective assistance of counsel” – a complaint that one’s lawyer was so horrendous it shouldn’t be held against them. The Court ruled 5-4 that the “ineffective assistance of postconviction counsel does not provide cause to excuse the procedural default of ineffective-assistance-of-appellate-counsel claims.” Ha! If you’re not a criminal defense appellate lawyer, you don’t need to know this.
From the Court:
This case involves a tragic cross-border incident in which a United States Border Patrol agent standing on United States soil shot and killed a Mexican national who was standing on Mexican soil. The three questions presented concern whether the parents of the victim of that shooting may assert claims for damages; … Whether the shooting violated the victim’s Fourth Amendment rights; and whether the agent is entitled to qualified immunity on a claim that the shooting violated the victim’s Fifth Amendment rights.
In a decision by the court that is unsigned, representing all the court called a “per curiam” decision, they ruled that the case should be sent back down to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for them to rehear it and address several questions asked by the Supreme Court
In another per curiam decision, the Court here rules that since Arkansas generally requires women to name their spouses on birth certificates, that the state is required to do so for same-sex spouses as well. The case concerned two lesbian couples who conceived children artificially and wanted both their names on the birth certificate.
Now would general be a slow time for Court watchers, except there is a good deal of speculation over Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy’s plans and whether he will retire before the Court’s next term. So far speculation is all we have, but as always, Liberty Nation will stay tuned for any developments on that front.