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Decision - Future Dangerousness Based on Race

3/4/2017
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On this episode we review the Court's recent decision in Buck v. Davis, wherein the Court considers whether Mr. Buck's trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for knowingly presenting an “expert” who testified that Mr. Buck was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is Black, where future dangerousness was both a prerequisite for a death sentence and the central issue at sentencing.

Duration: 00:10:27


May the Government Refuse to Issue a Trademark to an Asian-American Band Named the "Slants"?

1/27/2017
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On this episode, we review the oral arguments last week in Lee v. Tam. Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1052(a), provides that no trademark shall be refused registration on account of its nature unless, inter alia, it "[c]onsists of . . . matter which may disparage . . . persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute." The question presented by the case is whether the disparagement provision in 15 U.S.C. 1052(a) is...

Duration: 00:30:08


Transgender Bathroom Update - Engineering a Delay

12/22/2016
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On this episode we consider a delay granted by the Court in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., a case which the Supreme Court was expected to hear this Term concerning whether states are bound by a Department of Education interpretation of Title IX and 34 C.F.R. § 106.33, which provides that a funding recipient providing sex-separated facilities must “generally treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.”

Duration: 00:02:59


Police Use of Force: The Provocation Rule

12/21/2016
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On this episode we review the Court's recent grant of review to the case of Los Angeles County v. Mendez, which considers the merits of the Ninth Circuit's application of its "Provocation Rule" and whether that rule conflicts with Supreme Court precedent. Under the “provocation” rule, an officer may be held responsible for an otherwise reasonable use of force where the officer intentionally or recklessly provoked a violent confrontation, and the provocation was itself an independent Fourth...

Duration: 00:07:54


Use of Current Medical Standards to Revisit Prior Disability Determinations in Death Penalty Cases

12/3/2016
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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.

Duration: 00:17:05


Transgender Bathrooms

11/5/2016
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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.

Duration: 00:06:09


Is Juror Testimony About Racial Bias During Jury Deliberations Admissible?

10/9/2016
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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."

Duration: 00:07:22


May a Trademark be Denied Because it is Offensive?

10/8/2016
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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,"...

Duration: 00:11:17


The Texas Abortion Case

6/29/2016
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On this episode, we review the Court's decision this week in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, which considered whether a Texas law that 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.

May Congress Legislate a New Rule That Courts Must Apply in a Particular Pending Case

5/10/2016
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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...

May a State Challenge an Executive Branch Decision to Defer the Deportation of Entire Classes of Illegal Aliens

5/7/2016
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On this episode, we review the Court's oral arguments in United States v. Texas, which considers whether a State has Article III standing and a justiciable cause of action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. § 500 et seq., to challenge the Secretary’s exercise of immigration enforcement discretion, simply because an increase in the number of immigrants receiving deferred action might ultimately increase the net costs of the State’s driver’s license program.

Decision - Heffernan v. Paterson, N.J.

5/1/2016
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On this episode we review the Court's decision in Heffernan v. Paterson, N.J., which considered whether the First Amendment bars the government from demoting a public employee based on a supervisor's perception that the employee supports a political candidate, even if that perception is inaccurate.

May States Criminalize the Refusal to Submit to a Breathalyzer Test?

4/23/2016
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On this episode, we review the oral arguments this week in three consolidated cases, known as Birchfield v. North Dakota, in which the Court considers 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.

The Full Faith and Credit Clause and Fairness

4/23/2016
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On this episode we review the Court's opinion this week in California Franchise Tax Board v. Hyatt, which considers whether the Constitution permits a Nevada Court to apply a rule of Nevada law that awards damages against California that are greater than it could award against its own state in similar circumstances.

Does a Ban on Stun Guns Infringe the 2nd Amendment?

3/26/2016
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On this episode, we review the Court's decision this week in Caetano v. Massachusetts, wherein a women in Massachusetts was convicted of violating a Massachusetts' statute outlawing the possession of stun guns, which she carried for purposes of self-defense after separating from her abusive former partner. The Court considered whether a stun gun an arm within the meaning of the Second Amendment and whether Massachusetts' blanket prohibition on the possession of stun guns infringes the...

Lightning Round - Who is Judge Merrick Garland?

3/20/2016
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On this episode, we offer a short summary of the life and career of President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.

Same Sex Adoption and the Full Faith and Credit Clause

3/16/2016
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On this episode, we review the Court's opinion in V.L. v. E.L., which considered the question of whether the Full Faith and Credit Clause permits a court to deny recognition to an adoption judgment previously issued by a court from a sister state, based on the forum court’s determination that the issuing court erred in applying its own state’s adoption law?

Court Admonishes Prosecution for Failing to Disclose Exculpatory Evidence

3/12/2016
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On this episode, we review the court's opinion in Wearry v. Cain, which considers whether the Louisiana courts erred in failing to find that the State’s failure to disclose exculpatory evidence violated its obligation under Brady v. Maryland and that the failure prejudiced the defense.

What Constitutes an Undue Burden on Abortion?

3/9/2016
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On this episode, we review the oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, which considers the constitutionality of a Texas law that requires a physician performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a hospital within thirty miles of the location where they perform abortions (known as the “admitting privileges requirement”) and requires all abortion clinics to comply with standards set for ambulatory surgical centers (known as the “ASC requirement”), which would require among...

Judicial Recusal

3/5/2016
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On this episode, we review the case of Williams v. Pennsylvania, heard in oral argument this week. In Williams the Court is asked to determine whether the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments violated where the presiding Chief Justice of a State Supreme Court declines to recuse himself in a capital case where he had personally approved the decision to pursue capital punishment against Petitioner in his prior capacity as elected District Attorney and continued to head the District Attorney's...
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