26 June 2013

Supreme Court final week summary (end of term update)

Here are case summaries from today's three final opinions of the Supreme Court's term:

Hollingsworth v. Perry: (1) Does Hollingsworth have standing to defend Prop 8? and (2) Does the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibit California from defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman (it is important to note that the first question is a threshold question, meaning it must be decided in the affirmative for the Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality question)?

Prediction: A majority of the Court will decide that Hollingsworth does not have standing to defend Prop 8. As a result, the Court will not rule on the merits. Same sex marriage will remain legal in California, but the ruling will be limited and won't apply elsewhere. Here I predicted that Chief Justice Roberts would write the majority opinion.

Result: In a 5-4 decision written by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court ruled that Hollingsworth did not have standing to appeal. As a result, the Ninth Circuit's decision was reversed and remanded. The practical impact of this decision is that same sex marriage will be permitted in California, because the petitioners do not have standing to defend the law. This is a narrow ruling that will not apply outside of California.

United States v. Windsor: (1) Did the federal government's decision not to defend DOMA take away jurisdiction from the Supreme Court to hear the case? and (2) Does the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group have standing to defend DOMA? and 3) Is DOMA unconstitutional by violating the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection?

Prediction: BLAG will have standing, and the Court will strike down DOMA. However, I won't be surprised to see a plurality opinion on the reasoning. Here I predicted that Justice Kennedy would write the majority opinion.

Result: In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment. The practical impact of this decision is that the federal government cannot deny benefits to same-sex couples.

Sekhar v. United States: Does the "recommendation" of an attorney, who is a salaried employee of a governmental agency, in a single instance, constitute intangible property that can be the subject of an extortion attempt under the Hobbs Act?

Prediction: The Court will reverse in a unanimous decision. Here I predicted that Justice Scalia would write the majority opinion.

Result: In a 9-0 decision written by Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court ruled that attempting to compel a person to recommend that his employer approve an investment does not constitute the obtaining of property from another under the Hobbs Act. As a result, Sekhar's convicted was reversed.
Post a Comment