Casting aside a three-decade-old constitutional theory that allowed racial minorities to protect public policies that favor equality, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a state’s voters have the power to stop officials from using race to shape government programs. The lead opinion expressed the confident belief that the Court was only encouraging a useful civic conversation about race, hopefully free of rancor.
By a vote of six to two (with Justice Elena Kagan not taking part), the Court cleared the way for voters elsewhere in the nation to opt to put an end to so-called “affirmative action” policies — as seven states now do. While the ruling focused on the use of race in selecting new students for public colleges, it presumably also would permit voters to end race-conscious policies in hiring of state and local employees and in awarding public contracts.
Justice Kennedy announces opinion of the Court (Art Lien)
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On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will conclude its penultimate week of oral argument for the October Term 2013 by hearing an environmental case which poses a question of statutory interpretation that may not be as simple as it first appears. When Congress specified in Section 309 of CERCLA (the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act) that state “statutes of limitations” cannot bar toxic tort suits before plaintiffs discover that they have been harmed, did it also intend to preempt what have come to be known as “statutes of repose”? John J. Korzen, director of the Appellate Advocacy Clinic at the Wake Forest University School of Law, will make his Supreme Court debut in CTS Corp. v. Waldburger, arguing on behalf of a group of two dozen homeowners who discovered that their well water was contaminated by toxic chemicals decades after an industrial facility ceased operations. Because North Carolina law specifies that no lawsuits can be brought more than ten years after the defendant’s last action, a trial court dismissed the homeowners’ action. However, a team of clinic students convinced a divided panel of the Fourth Circuit to reinstate the lawsuit by arguing that Section 309’s preemption extends to the North Carolina law. Opposing the clinic are petitioner CTS Corporation, the alleged source of the contamination, and the federal government, which seeks to use the North Carolina law in another case to avoid liability to families of military personnel exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune. Continue reading »
We are live blogging this morning as opinions are issued. Please click this link to be taken to the live blog page.
On the morning of May 1, Constitutional Accountability Center will host a “Home Stretch at the Supreme Court” panel at the National Press Club, reviewing the Term’s decisions and the blockbusters to come.
The panel will be moderated by Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick and will feature Erin Murphy, who recently argued McCutcheon v. FEC, Marty Lederman of Georgetown Law, and CAC’s Elizabeth Wydra. More information is on CAC’s website.
Today the Court will hear oral arguments in two highly anticipated cases. In Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, the Court will consider a First Amendment challenge to an Ohio law that criminalizes false political statements. Lyle Denniston previewed the case for this blog. Other coverage comes from Katie Barlow and Nina Totenberg at NPR, while in his “Drama at the Court” series for ISCOTUSnow, Christopher Schmidt looks back at United States v. Alvarez, a recent case in which the Court struck down criminal penalties for lying about military honors. In American Broadcasting Companies v. Aereo, the Court will consider whether Aereo’s streaming of broadcast television programs over the Internet violates federal copyright laws. Lyle Denniston previewed the case for this blog, while I did the same in Plain English and Kali Borkoski added a discussion (audio) with some of the players in the case. Other coverage of the Aereo case comes from Nina Totenberg at NPR (audio), Bloomberg TV, and Edward Lee at ISCOTUSnow (video). Continue reading »
The petition of the day is:
Issue: (1) Whether contract-expectation damages are a permissible remedy in a civil RICO action based on alleged fraud, and if so, whether such damages are available even where any expectation was created only by the alleged fraudulent conduct; (2) whether but-for causation in a civil RICO class action may be satisfied by a class-wide presumption of reliance on alleged fraudulent conduct in the absence of any individualized proof that any member of the class actually relied on that conduct; and (3) whether a nationwide class asserting state-law claims under multiple state laws may be certified under Rule 23(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in the absence of any showing that the state laws at issue are uniformly interpreted and applied.
Click below to listen to Chet Kanojia, Aereo’s founder and CEO, Brenda Cotter, Aereo’s General Counsel, and former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, advisor to the broadcasters, discuss the upcoming oral argument. Continue reading »