U.S. Supreme Court | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Supreme Court

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 26, 2009 - When Sandra Johnson worked on a committee with Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor in 1995, they selected scholarship winners at New York University's School of Law. Johnson, a St. Louis University professor emerita of law, said the committee was "locked in a room" for six to eight hours --- a short but intense time.

"I really found (Sotomayor) to ask very insightful questions and to be a very good listener, very analytical," Johnson said. "She was able to ask harder questions, but she put people at ease."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 19, 2009 - In deciding whom to nominate to the Supreme Court, President Barack Obama might well consider lessons from earlier decisions by Democratic presidents involving two related legal giants.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 1, 2009 - Justice David H. Souter's decision to leave the U.S. Supreme Court is not likely to change the court's direction. Souter had become a moderate-to-liberal voice during his nearly two decades on the bench and is likely to be replaced by a similarly moderate or liberal justice.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 25, 2009 - A constitutional law class at Washington University got a surprise visitor Thursday morning: retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor -- the first woman to sit on the nation's highest court .

About 75 first-year students were treated to O'Connor's observations about judicial decision-making, being a woman lawyer trying to get her first job in the early 1950s, and the role of law clerks in the U.S. Supreme Court.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 6, 2009 - The biggest First Amendment issue related to the Internet in the coming year is the debate over "behavioral advertising" - a practice that some Internet sites use to track people's Internet search activity in order to target advertising. That is the view of First Amendment lawyers gathered at a winter ABA conference in Arizona.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 30, 2009 - Speculation is rife over which U.S. Supreme Court justice might give President Obama his first appointment. Some of the speculation hasn't been very been nice, with much discussion about whether Justice John Paul Stevens, the oldest justice on the court, is the "FedEx" justice because he mails in his work from his Florida home. A former clerk, Edward Lazarus,  wrote a book some time ago, breaking his vow of confidentiality. Lazarus, who clerked for Stevens between 1988-89 wrote in "Closed Chambers":

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 15, 2008 - In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that smokers could sue in state courts claiming a violation of consumer fraud laws. The decision could lead to judgments that would pose a threat to the health of the cigarette industry.

There are at least two interesting aspects of the high court's decision:

Justices perplexed by 7 Aphorisms case

Nov 13, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 13, 2008 - The case of the 7 Aphorisms is perplexing because it involves the intersection of two First Amendments doctrines - the right of free speech and the ban against an establishment of religion. Another difficulty is that the case involves the court's confusing public forum doctrine, which generally bars the government, in a tradition forum like a public park, from discriminating against speech based on its content.

Obama doubts Thomas

Aug 19, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 19, 2008- Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain were recently asked which members of the Supreme Court they wouldn't have named. Obama listed Justice Thomas and Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts. McCain listed the four most liberal members of the court - Justices David H. Souter, John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

Senate could pass "shield law" this week

Jul 28, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 28, 2008 - The Free Flow of Information Act seeks to enact on the federal level the same kind of protection for confidential information that 49 states have recognized either by statute or court decision.

Analysis: High Court in the balance in election

Jul 25, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 25, 2008 - A year ago, the conventional wisdom was that the U.S. Supreme Court had veered in a conservative direction. One court expert even spoke about Supreme Court Inc. because business interests had won so many cases during the 2006-7 court term.

A year later, those prognostications look overstated.

'Millionaire Amendment' decision shows O'Connor effect

Jul 1, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 1, 2008 - A recent Supreme Court decision shows the difference that the absence of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor makes. The decision striking down the provision of the McCain-Feingold law was written by Justice O'Connor's replacement, Justice Samuel Alito. It's a good bet that the case would have come out the other way if Justice O'Connor still had been on the bench because she voted in favor of upholding most of the provisions of the law in an earlier decision.

Supreme Court upholds individual right to keep a gun

Jun 26, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 26, 2008 - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the first time in history that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep a handgun in the home for self-protection. Through much of the 20th century, the Second Amendment had been viewed by the courts as protecting a collective right necessary to running state militias.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 12, 2008 - In an extraordinary rebuke to President George W. Bush and Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Thursday that prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay have the right to go to federal court on a writ of habeas corpus. This is the third time since 9/11 that the Supreme Court has found that the president violated the law or the Constitution in limiting the opportunities of prisoners in the war on terrorism to obtain a fair hearing.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 27, 2008 - The U.S. Supreme Court broadened the legal protection of workers who face retaliation for complaining about discrimination at work. The court ruled that workers who complained about race and age discrimination were protected from reprisals, just as are those who complain about sex discrimination have been protected since a 2005 decision.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Replacing Justice John Paul Stevens with a Thomas/Scalia/Alito clone could move the court more dramatically to the right than any Supreme Court appointment in the past half century. The balance of the court on issues like religious freedom, affirmative action, gay rights and flag burning could switch. Hence the importance of the next president's selection of a new justice.

Mildred Loving: 'Is this the night the police will come?'

May 5, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Mildred Loving has a special place in my memory.

Almost 20 years ago, I was writing stories about the Constitution. One afternoon, on a whim, I put my sleeping 4-year-old in the car and set off from our Bethesda, Md., hoping to find Mildred Loving at her rural Virginia home.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana's voter identification law on Monday by a 6-3 vote that avoided the normal ideological divisions. The decision won't revive Missouri's voter ID law, however, because the 2006 decision striking down that law was based on state, not federal constitutional grounds.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Two death penalty cases in the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday could affect Missouri. In one, a splintered court ruled that Kentucky could resume lethal injections, a decision that could restart executions in Missouri and most other states. In the other case, the court heard arguments that capital punishment should be permitted for child rape, a position that Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt has urged on the court.

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