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The “Speech or Debate Clause” provides powerful protection to members of Congress and prohibits the Executive Branch from prosecuting those with whom it does not agree.

One of the first cases to interpret the Speech or Debate Clause is United States v. Johnson. Set forth in Article 1, Section 6, Clause 1, the Speech or Debate Clause states: ...shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their attendance at the Session of [...]

There are acceptable limits to free speech in some campaign finance laws for the Roberts Court, at least when it comes to judges elected by popular vote.

In a case regarding campaign finance laws, Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, the majority of the Supreme Court ruled that the government could place restrictions on personal solicitations of campaign funds by judicial candidates Petitioner Lanell Williams-Yulee sought election as a County Court Judge in Hillsborough County, Florida. Shortly after she registered as a judicial [...]

Oral arguments lasted only a few short hours, but the Supreme Court will likely debate the same-sex marriage cases for the next two months. Not surprisingly, Justice Anthony Kennedy holds the likely swing vote that could change history in regards to same-sex marriage.

In a Court comprised of four liberal judges and four conservatives, Justice Anthony Kennedy is more difficult to pin down on social issues. While Kennedy has consistently sided with the conservative block on cases involving abortion rights, he has also traditionally voted with the liberals in cases involving gay rights. In fact, he authored the [...]

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that absent reasonable suspicion, police extension of a traffic stop in order to conduct a dog sniff violates the Constitution’s prohibition of unreasonable seizures.

The decision in Rodriguez v. United States reflects the Court’s growing trend of strengthening Fourth Amendment search and seizure protections. Officer Struble pulled over Denny Rodriguez for driving on a highway shoulder, a violation of Nebraska law. After Struble attended to everything relating to the stop, including checking the driver’s licenses of Rodriguez and his [...]

Fourth Amendment and Technology: Can They Co-Exist?

The decision in Torrey Dale Grady v. North Carolina builds on the Court’s prior decisions regarding the relationship between the Fourth Amendment and technology.

The decision in Torrey Dale Grady v. North Carolina builds on the Court’s prior decisions regarding the relationship between the Fourth Amendment and technology. The Facts of the Case Torrey Dale Grady was convicted of two sexual crimes in North Carolina. After serving his sentence for the second crime, the state wanted subject him to [...]

America’s First Privacy Case: Meyer v. State of Nebraska

In Meyer v. State of Nebraska, the Supreme Court struck down a law that prohibited foreign languages from being taught until the ninth grade. The 1923 decision paved the way for a number of more memorable privacy decisions, including Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, and Lawrence v. Texas. In 1919, the state of Nebraska [...]

When Does Redistricting Violate the Voting Rights Act?

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued its much-anticipated decision in Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama and Alabama Democratic Conference v. Alabama, which addressed whether the state of Alabama engaged in racial gerrymandering during its latest round of redistricting.

Given that the Court sent the case back to the federal court, it is still unclear whether the state’s redistricting plan will stand. However, at least one justice predicts that the majority decision will have a significant impact on voting rights jurisprudence. The Facts of the Case As detailed in greater depth in our case [...]

The U.S. Supreme Court gave online retailers a significant victory in the Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl case,when it held that the Tax Injunction Act (TIA) does not prohibit them from challenging a Colorado sales tax scheme that requires out-of-state retailers to collect and report information about consumer purchases.

It is unclear, however, how long the ruling in Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl will stand. In a concurring opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy expressly called on the Court to overturn Quill v. North Dakota, in which the justices previously held that state laws requiring retailers that do not have a physical presence in the state [...]

Grand Jury Power in Death Penalty Cases


The criminal law case raises interesting questions with regard a defendant’s rights under both the Sixth and Eighth Amendments. The Facts of the Case In 1998, Timothy Hurst was convicted of the first-degree murder of Cynthia Harrison, a fellow employee at Popeye’s Restaurant. By a vote of 7-5, a sentencing jury later voted that Hurst [...]

SOX Conviction for Violating Sarbanes-Oxley Act Overturned

The U.S. Supreme Court recently held that a Florida fisherman did not violate the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s anti-shredding provision when he tossed undersize fish overboard in order avoid a fine from wildlife officials.

Much like its decision last year in Bond v. United States, the Court appears to be sending a message about over prosecution in regards to violating the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The Facts of the Case On August 23, 2007, John Yates was commercial fishing off of Florida’s Gulf Coast the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission [...]