Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Sorry folks, no health care, no SB 1070 decisions this week. The Court has 5 decisions left plus the health care cases next week. Some opinions will be announced on Monday, and a final round of announced decisions on a date yet to be noticed. Monday is also orders day, including American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock, the Montana Supreme Court challenge to Citizens United v. FEC.
Here is a quick recap of the opinions announced today. Amy Howe from SCOTUSblog summarizes the cases, followed by a link to today's opinions. Remaining merits cases: In Plain English : SCOTUSblog:
Argued on March 19, 2012
Plain English Issue: Whether the Constitution requires that a jury, rather than a judge, must find beyond a reasonable doubt any fact that leads to a higher fine for a criminal defendant.
6-3 decision. The First Circuit Court of Appeals decision is reversed. The rule of Apprendi v. NJ applies to the imposition of criminal fines. The opinion in Southern Union Company v. U.S. is here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-94a1b2.pdf.
Argued on January 10, 2012
Plain English Issue: Whether a state can require its employees to pay a special union fee that will be spent for political purposes without first giving the employees information about the fee and a chance to object to it.
5-4 decision on ideological grounds, but 6-3 in the result (concurrence). The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision is reversed. The Court first ruled that the case is not moot. It then ruled on the merits: the union's treatment of nonmembers who had opted out when they got notice of the dues ran afoul of the First Amendment. A concurring opinion says that "[T]he majority thus decides, for the very first time, that the First Amendment does require an opt-in system in some circumstances [for union dues]: the levying of a special assessment or dues increase." The opinion in Knox v. Service Employees International Union is here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1121c4d6.pdf.
Argued on April 17, 2012
Plain English Issue: Whether the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced the sentences for defendants who are convicted of crack cocaine offenses, applies to defendants who were convicted before the Act went into effect but sentenced after it.
5-4 decision. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision is vacated and remanded. The Court holds that the FSA's new mandatory minimums applies to sentences for crack cocaine imposed after the Act for pre-Act crimes. The decision in Dorsey and Hill is here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-5683i7k8.pdf.
Argued on January 10, 2012
Plain English Issue: Whether the Federal Communications Commission’s standards for indecency on television are too vague to be constitutional.
Unanimous (Sotomayor did not participate, Ginsburg concurrence). The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision is vacated and remanded. The decision is narrow. It says simply that the FCC didn't give advance notice. It doesn't decide the question of the constitutionality of the current policy. Because it resolves these cases under the due process clause, it does not involve First Amendment implications. The decision leaves the FCC free to modify its policy in light of its determination of the public interest and leaves the courts free to review the current policy or any changes thereto in light of what the policy is and how it is applied. The decision in FCC v. Fox is here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1293f3e5.pdf.