Taylor v United States

In Taylor v United States (2016), the U.S. Supreme Court held that “commerce” under the Hobbs Act should be interpreted broadly. Accordingly, it found that the government had satisfied its burden by establishing that the defendant robbed a drug dealer of drugs or drug proceeds.  The Facts in Taylor v United States Anthony Taylor was indicted under [...]

United States v Hudson and Goodwin

In United States v Hudson and Goodwin, 11 U.S. 32 (1812), the U.S. Supreme Court first considered whether the federal courts were authorized to hear criminal cases. The justices held that Congress must confer jurisdiction by statute in order for the court to render a conviction. The Facts in United States v Hudson and Goodwin Defendants [...]

Fisher v University of Texas at Austin

In Fisher v University of Texas at Austin (2016), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the race-conscious admissions program in use by the university when Abigail Fisher applied to the school in 2008 is lawful under the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. The justices split 4-3 on the controversial affirmative action case. The Facts of the [...]

Birchfield v North Dakota

In Birchfield v North Dakota (2016), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment permits warrantless breath tests incident to arrests for drunk driving. However, it held that warrantless blood tests do run afoul of the Constitution. The Facts of Birchfield v North Dakota Danny Birchfield, Steve Beylund, and William Bernard of Minnesota challenged their [...]

McDonnell v United States

In McDonnell v United States, 579 U. S. ____ (2016), the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the conviction of the former governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell. In a unanimous decision, the justices rejected federal prosecutors’ broad interpretation of the term “official act” as used in a federal anti-corruption statute. The Facts in McDonnell v United States Former Virginia [...]

RJR Nabisco, Inc v The European Community

In RJR Nabisco, Inc v The European Community, the U.S. Supreme Court limited the reach of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). By a vote of 4-3 (Justice Sonia Sotomayor having recused herself), the Court held that the federal racketeering law’s private right of action did not apply to conduct that occurred overseas. [...]

Brady v Maryland

In Brady v Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), the U.S. Supreme Court held that prosecutors must fully disclose to the accused all exculpatory evidence in their possession. The Court’s holding is commonly known as the “Brady Rule.” The Facts in Brady v Maryland Brady and a companion, Boblit, were found guilty of murder in the first [...]

Reynolds v. Sims

In Reynolds v Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Alabama’s legislative apportionment scheme. By a vote of 8-1, the justices held that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause requires that both houses of a state legislature be apportioned on a population basis. The Facts of Reynolds v Sims Voters in several Alabama counties filed [...]

Selective Service Act of 1917

selective service act

Enacted in the early days of World War I, the Selective Service Act of 1917 authorized the country’s first military draft. By the conclusion of the war, 24 million men had registered for military service. At the end of the Civil War, the United States ended mandatory military service. So when President Woodrow reluctantly entered [...]

Williams v. Pennsylvania

In Williams v Pennsylvania, the U.S. Supreme Court held that judges must recuse themselves in cases that they once prosecuted 579 U.S. ___ (2016). By a vote of 5-3, the justices held that a Pennsylvania judge’s participation in a death penalty case violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Terrance Williams was convicted [...]