October 11, 2013 |
Mark Tushnet is a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School and the author of " In the Balance: Law and Politics on the Roberts Court . " The Supreme Court opened its term this past week with cases about campaign finance, abortion protests, public prayer and presidential power on its docket. John G. Roberts Jr. has been chief justice since 2005, and we've seen enough from the Roberts court to get a sense of what we do and don't understand about it, and to separate reality from fiction.
February 26, 2013 |
The Supreme Court debated Tuesday whether Maryland's decision to collect DNA samples from people arrested for serious crimes represents an unconstitutional invasion of privacy or a crime-solving breakthrough with the potential to be the "fingerprinting of the 21st century. " Either way, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said, the case is "perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this court has heard in decades. " At issue are laws in 29 states and on the federal level that allow some version of DNA...
June 3, 2013 |
A divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that police may take DNA samples when booking those arrested for serious crimes, narrowly upholding a Maryland law and opening the door to more widespread collection of DNA by law enforcement. The court ruled 5 to 4 that government has a legitimate interest in collecting DNA from arrestees, just as it takes photographs and collects fingerprints. Rejecting the view that the practice constitutes an unlawful search , the majority said it was...
June 24, 2013 |
The most remarkable thing about the Supreme Court's opinions announced Monday was not what the justices wrote or said. It was what Samuel Alito did. The associate justice, a George W. Bush appointee, read two opinions, both 5-4 decisions that split the court along its usual right-left divide. But Alito didn't stop there. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, Alito visibly mocked his colleague. Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the high court, was making her argument about how...
March 21, 2012 |
A divided Supreme Court ruled for the first time Wednesday that the guarantee of effective legal representation applies to plea bargain agreements, significantly expanding the constitutional rights of defendants as they move through the criminal justice system. In a pair of cases decided by 5 to 4 votes, the court opened a new avenue for defendants to challenge their sentences on grounds that their attorneys gave them faulty advice, lawyers on both sides of the issue said. The vast majority of...
January 14, 2013 |
Justice Clarence Thomas broke his nearly seven-year silence at Supreme Court oral arguments Monday. But no one is sure exactly what he said. Thomas seemed to be making a lighthearted joke about lawyers trained at his alma mater, Yale Law School, or its rival, Harvard; the Ivy League is a common Thomas target. But several justices were speaking and laughing at the time, and Thomas's exact comments apparently are lost to history. It was over so quickly that some observers hadn't...