SUPREME PODCAST PLAYER
A weekly discussion of the U.S. Supreme Court’s most recent opinions, oral arguments and grants of certiorari.
This term the Court considers the case of Lee v. Tam, which considers whether Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1052(a), is constitutional. Section 2(a) prohibits the registration of a trademark that “may disparage ... persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” In this case, the Government denied a trademark to "The Slants," an Asian-American rock band based in Portland. In choosing to name the band "The Slants," Simon Tam sought to make a statement on discrimination against Asian-Americans.
On this episode we review the Court's decision in McDonnell v. United States, which considers whether a former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell was given a fair trial when he was convicted under the federal bribery statute (18 U. S. C. §201), which makes it a crime for “a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly” to demand, seek, receive, accept, or agree “to receive or accept anything of value” in return for being “influenced in the performance of any official act.” Specifically, the Court considered whether it was appropriate for the trial court to refuse Governor McDonnell's request to specifically instruct the jury that “merely arranging a meeting, attending an event, hosting a reception, or making a speech are not, standing alone, ‘official acts."
On this episode, we review the Court's decision this week in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, which considered whether a Texas law which had the effect of closing half of the abortion clinics in the state constituted “[u]nnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion" that the Court had declared unconstitutional in its landmark 1992 case Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey.
On this episode we review the Court's decision in Birchfield v. North Dakota, which considered whether in the absence of a warrant, a State may make it a crime for a person to refuse to take a chemical test to detect the presence of alcohol in the person’s blood.
This case concerns nearly $2 billion of bonds in which Bank Markazi, the Central Bank of Iran, held an interest in Europe as part of its foreign currency reserves. Plaintiffs, who hold default judgments against Iran, tried to seize the assets. While the case was pending, Congress enacted §502 of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, 22 U.S.C. §8772. By its terms, that statute applies only to this one case: to “the financial assets that are identified in and the subject of proceedings in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Peterson et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran et al. “In order to ensure that Iran is held accountable for paying the judgments,” it provides that, notwithstanding any other state or federal law, the assets “shall be subject to execution” upon only two findings—essentially, that Bank Markazi has a beneficial interest in them and that no one else does. The question presented is: Whether §8772—a statute that effectively directs a particular result in a single pending case—violates the separation of powers.