Issue: (1) Texas has enacted a statute, Texas Penal Code § 21.02, which
criminalizes continuous sexual abuse of a child or children under age
14. A jury is permitted to convict someone without unanimously
agreeing exactly which two acts occurred. All the jury has to
unanimously decide is that any two acts (24 total acts if there are 12
jurors) occurred over a period lasting 30 days or more. Does this
statute violate the federal constitutional requirements of a unanimous
jury verdict in criminal prosecutions or due process of law? Or is the
statute constitutional because, as the Texas appellate courts have held,
the “two or more acts” element is only the “manner and means” of
committing this offense, and therefore the jury does not need to
unanimously agree which two acts occurred in order to convict;
(2) Texas Government Code § 508.145(a) prohibits someone convicted of
continuous sexual abuse of a child or children under age 14 from
being parole eligible. However, someone convicted of a multiple,
specific acts of abuse against a child or children under age 14 remains
parole eligible. Does this legislative classification violate the federal
constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws, especially
when, as here, a defendant is convicted of both continuous sexual
abuse, which is not parole eligible, and specific acts of abuse, which
are parole eligible.
On Tuesday the Justices met for their November 24 Conference. The December sitting will begin on Monday, November 30. The hearing list for the December sitting is here.
Zubik v. Burwell Does the availability of a regulatory method for nonprofit religious employers to comply with the HHS contraceptive mandate eliminate the substantial burden on religious exercise in violation of RFRA that the Court recognized in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.?
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Evenwel v. Abbott Does the "one-person, one-vote" principle require states to use voter population, as opposed to total population, when drawing state legislative districts?
Hines v. Alldredge Whether restrictions on occupational speech are subject to First Amendment scrutiny, or only rational-basis review.
Paske v. Fitzgerald (1) Whether the rule in USPS Bd. of Governors v. Aikens applies to the evaluation of a discrimination claim at summary judgment; and (2) whether a plaintiff claiming discrimination is required to prove, as an element of a prima facie case, that he or she was treated less favorably than a “nearly identical” “similarly situated” individual who is not a member of the protected class, a Fifth Circuit requirement which courts have characterized as “stringent,” “strict,” and “demanding.”
Puerto Rico v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust Whether Chapter 9 of the federal Bankruptcy Code, which does not apply to Puerto Rico, nonetheless preempts a Puerto Rico statute creating a mechanism for the Commonwealth's public utilities to restructure their debts.
Chief Justice John Roberts says, “‘History didn’t end in 1965.’ But, what he misses is that voter suppression didn’t end in 1965, either . . . . This particular part of the Voting Rights Act that he didn’t like, Section 5, it blocked 3000 discriminatory voting changes from 1965 to 2013.” In this excerpt from the four-part GOVERNINGWorks interview, Ari Berman […]
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Sigma Delta Chi
Awarded the Sigma Delta Chi deadline reporting award for online coverage of the Affordable Care Act decision.
National Press Club Award
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Silver Gavel Award
Awarded the Silver Gavel Award by the American Bar Association for fostering the American public’s understanding of the law and the legal system.
American Gavel Award
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