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McCullen v. Coakley

In McCullen v. Coakley, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Massachusetts law establishing “buffer zones” around reproductive health care facilities violates the First Amendment. The justices concluded that even though the restriction is content neutral, it is not "narrowly tailored" because it "burden[s] substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government's legitimate [...]

National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning

President Barak Obama exceeded the recess appointment power granted under the U.S. Constitution when he appointed three members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), according to the unanimous opinion of the Supreme Court. The decision marked the first time the justices had considered the often-used political tool in the Constitution’s 200-year history.  The Facts [...]

Lane v. Franks

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued an important decision regarding the free speech rights of public employees. The unanimous First Amendment decision clarifies that employees are protected when providing court testimony about matters outside the scope of their ordinary job duties. The Facts of the Case Petitioner Edward Lane served as the Director of Community [...]

ACA’s Contraception Mandate

On the last day of the session, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. By a vote of 5-4, the justices ruled that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) so-called “contraception mandate” violates Religious Freedom Restoration Act when applied to closely held corporations. The Facts of the Case The Court [...]


The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued its most important privacy decision in four decades. In Riley v. California, the majority held that police officers must obtain a warrant prior to searching a suspect’s cell phone during the course of an arrest. Factual History The Court’s opinion addressed two cases that raised similar Fourth Amendment concerns. [...]

Elonis v. United States: Supreme Court to Consider Online Threats

Threats of causing actual harm to someone has never been considered protected speech under the First Amendment.  The U.S. Supreme Court will now review online threats made on Facebook and Twitter, in  Elonis v. United States. The case involves a series of violent Facebook messages, which ultimately landed a Pennsylvania man in jail. The Facts [...]

Bond v. United States: Another Case of Constitutional Avoidance

The U.S. Supreme Court sidestepped the most complex issues in Bond v. United States in yet another case of constitutional avoidance. Rather than address the limits of the federal government’s power to implement international treaties, the Court ruled that the Chemical Weapons Convention simply did not apply. The Facts As many commentators have highlighted, the [...]

First Amendment

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to come to the aid of New York Times reporter James Risen. He is facing jail time after refusing to comply with a subpoena seeking the identity of a source used for his book, “State of War.” The government maintains that the source is Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA [...]

IQ Score

A divided Supreme Court has withdrawn some of the discretion it gave to the states to determine when an individual convicted of murder is too intellectually incapacitated to be executed. The five to four majority held that states cannot use a fixed IQ score as the measure for incapacity to be executed. Freddie Lee Hall [...]

Supreme Court Decides the “Raging Bull” Case

Raging Bull

The Supreme Court recently decided the case of Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (MGM), involving the question of how to decide if a copyright case is brought in a timely manner. The Copyright Act sets forth a three-year statute of limitations, yet a literal interpretation could allow lawsuits brought several years after the relevant events occurred. [...]