Category Archives: National & International

Big Week at the Supreme Court

 

Quite a few significant Supreme Court opinions were announced this week, including two of the biggest cases from this term: same-sex marriage and Obamacare.

Read on for more information on each case from this week and links to the Court’s opinion.

 

 

Same-sex marriage – Obergefell v. Hodges
Issues:
1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

Holding:
The Court ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriage, and concluded the majority opinion with the following paragraph:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

Obamacare – King v. Burwell
Issue:
Whether the Internal Revenue Service may permissibly promulgate regulations to extend tax-credit subsidies to coverage purchased through exchanges established by the federal government under Section 1321 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Holding:
The Court held that the tax credits are available to individuals living in states with their own health care exchanges as well as individuals living in the 34 states that have a federal exchange.

Other cases from this week

  • City of Los Angeles v. Patel
    Constitutionality of a Los Angeles Municipal Code ordinance which requires hotel operators to keep specific information about guests for 90 days and make it available to LAPD officers on demand.
  • Kingsley v. Hendrickson
    Whether proving an excessive force claim requires a pretrial detainee to show that officers are subjectively aware that their use of force was unreasonable.

For full coverage of these decisions and others, check out these websites:

SCOTUSblog
The SCOTUSblog covers all aspects of the Supreme Court and provides both commentary and resources related to the Court including opinions, briefs, select petitions for certiorari, and news coverage of every merits case before the Court.

Oyez
This website offers a variety of resources devoted to the Supreme Court including opinions, recordings of oral arguments, information about the individual justices, and more.

Economic and Banking Data from FRASER

Have you heard of FRASER?  The Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research is a data preservation and accessibility project of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the U.S. Government Publishing Office.  The website provides access to a variety of resources containing economic and banking data, including:

  • Publications of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Publications of District Federal Reserve Banks
  • Statements and speeches of Federal Reserve policymakers
  • Archival materials of Federal Reserve policymakers
  • Economic data publications
  • Statistical releases
  • Congressional documents
  • Books
  • Reports by various organizations

You can browse resource by title and date, as well as perform keyword searches.  To learn how to fully utilize FRASER, read through the website’s How to Use FRASER page.

Free ABA Membership for Law Students

ABA law student divisionThe American Bar Association announced on Monday that it now provides free membership to law students attending ABA-approved schools.  The benefits of ABA membership are numerous and include access to ABA publications, the ABA Job Board, continuing legal education (CLE) courses, and member discounts.  To join, enroll online at http://www.americanbar.org/abalawstudents or call the ABA Service Center at 800-285-2221.

New Federal Courts app

Need a way to consult the Federal Rules of Evidence without having to lug around the print rules?  How about on-the-go access to federal cases and dockets?  Or directions to the federal courthouse that you will be appearing in later today?  The newly updated Federal Courts app can provide you with all of this, and more.  The  app now provides the full text of all the federal rules of procedure (civil, criminal, appellate, bankruptcy, and evidence rules) as well as the local rules for every federal court in the country, including district, bankruptcy, and appellate courts.  The app also offers access to PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), which allows users to obtain case and docket information for federal courts.  In addition, the app provides turn-by-turn directions to any federal courthouse.  It’s a great tool for students and practitioners alike.

The app is available for iPhone and iPad and can be downloaded from iTunes.

State v. Federal Law – Medical Marijuana

Eighteen states (including Arizona) and the District of Columbia now allow for medical use of marijuana.  The medical marijuana laws of these states are in direct conflict with federal law, however, as the Controlled Substances Act prohibits the cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana.  This has created an incongruous situation in which an individual may be using medical marijuana in compliance with state law but is concurrently violating federal law, and thus exposing him or herself to federal prosecution.  While the U.S. Department of Justice stated in a 2009 Memorandum to U.S. Attorneys that federal prosecutors should generally not focus their resources on “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana,” prosecution is still a real possibility.

It is yet to be seen how the federal government will respond to the state laws authorizing and regulating medical marijuana use, but if in the meantime you would like to learn more about the constitutional law issues raised by these laws  you can read through the recent Congressional Research Service report “Medical Marijuana: The Supremacy Clause, Federalism, and the Interplay Between State and Federal Laws.”

To learn more about the Medical Marijuana Program in Arizona check out the Arizona Department of Health Services webpage.

New Federal Government Websites

Two new federal government websites are making it easier to find government information online.  One of the new websites is Congress.gov, which is in an initial beta version.  This website currently contains legislation from 2001 to the present and congressional member profiles from 1973 to the present.  Congress.gov will replace the Library of Congress’s THOMAS.gov website by the end of 2014 and will incorporate all of the information available on THOMAS.gov. You can read more about Congress.gov and THOMAS.gov here.

The other new website is eCFR.gov.  This website contains a current, daily updated version of the Code of Federal Regulations.  It replaces eCFR.gopaccess.gov and operates on an upgraded software and hardware platform, providing an interface that is similar to other Federal Register publications on FDsys (the Federal Digital System).

If you are looking for government information, also check out the Law Library’s research guides on the subject: Federal Legislation and Statutes, Federal Bills and Proposed Legislation, and Federal Regulations.

Register to Vote Today

If you’re planning to vote in this year’s elections, now is the time to make sure you are registered, as tomorrow, October 9, is the last day to register to vote in Arizona.  To register, go to the Voter Registration and Education page from the Arizona Secretary of State, Tom Horne.

Once you have registered check out Arizona’s page at Vote411.org for a list of such information as what ID is necessary for identification at the voting booth, the requirements for time off to vote, upcoming debates and forums, provisions for voters with disabilities, and more.

For those curious about ballot measures, the League of Women Voters of Arizona have put up a voter guide here, including summaries of each proposition, arguments for and against, and a list of supporters and opponents of each issue.

Not an Arizona voter?  No problem.  You can simply enter your voting address in the side form of Vote411.org or scroll down and choose your state to find out about voting there.

Google Settles with Book Publishers

After seven years of litigation, Google and the Association of American Publishers announced a settlement yesterday which will allow publishers to choose whether Google digitizes their copyrighted but out-of-print publications.  The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but settlement language dictates that 20% of content from books that Google has already digitized will be readable online with the entire book available for purchase from Google Play, and Google will share revenue with book publishers.

This settlement does not resolve the litigation between Google and authors, however – the Author’s Guild published a press release yesterday, confirming that the “authors’ class action continues.”  Nor does the settlement answer the question of whether Google is infringing copyright by digitizing books, which is really the main issue in the litigation.

You can read more about the litigation on the Association of Research Libraries website, which offers a four-part series on the Google Library Project: Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

Supreme Court in the News

Were you surprised by the United States Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Health Care Act?  Does it make you curious about the sort of cases they’re going to be looking at and how they may vote in the upcoming year?  If so, here are a few articles that take a look at the most well-known cases that will come to court:

Above the Law:  A Preview of the upcoming Supreme Court Term (OT 2012)

New York Times:  Supreme Court Faces Weighty Cases and a New Dynamic

Thompson-Reuters: Affirmitive Action, Rights Cases Await U.S. Supreme Court

If you want more in-depth information about where the Supreme Court is headed and what’s current, check out the SCOTUS Blog at http://www.scotusblog.com.

 

Supreme Court Decision on Health Care Law

The Supreme Court’s decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was issued this morning.  While news coverage of the decision has been extensive, we want to point out a particularly interesting resource you can use to learn more about the Supreme Court’s opinion: the Interactive Health Care Ruling feature on NPR’s website.  This interactive version of the Court’s opinion enables you to easily navigate to specific portions of the opinion and the dissent, and read annotations from SCOTUSblog staff.  The Interactive Health Care Ruling feature will be updated throughout the day.