Supreme Court Review 2016/2017 TERM


A weekly discussion of the U.S. Supreme Court’s most recent opinions, oral arguments and grants of certiorari.

NOW PLAYING... December 3, 2016 Use of Current Medical Standards to Revisit Prior Disability Determinations in Death Penalty Cases
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Use of Current Medical Standards to Revisit Prior Disability Determinations in Death Penalty Cases (12/03/2016)

Whether it violates the Eighth Amendment and this Court’s decisions in Hall v. Florida and Atkins v. Virginia to prohibit the use of current medical standards on intellectual disability, and require the use of outdated medical standards, in determining whether an individual may be executed.

Transgender Bathrooms (11/04/2016)

On this episode, we review the Court's recent grant of review to Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., which considers whether courts should extend deference to an unpublished agency letter that requires publicly funded schools to "treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity” in the use of bathrooms.

Is Juror Testimony About Racial Bias During Jury Deliberations Admissible? (10/09/2016)

On this episode we discuss a case to be heard in oral arguments this week concerning a rule of evidence that prohibits the introduction of juror testimony regarding statements made during deliberations when offered to challenge the jury’s verdict. The question here is whether that rule applies when a defendant is attempting to prove a violation of the Sixth Amendment's "right to an impartial jury."

May a Trademark be Denied Because it is Offensive? (10/08/2016)

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.

Is it a Crime to Buy a Public Official's Time or Influence? (07/09/2016)

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."