Supreme Court Round Up

Today the Supreme Court issued five rulings:

Salinas v. Texas:

In a five to four decision, the Court ruled that the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent has only a limited application before the suspect is arrested. This case involved a defendant who refused to answer a question about a shotgun used during a crime. Later during the defendant’s trial, the prosecution used his refusal to answer the question as evidence of his guilt.  In today’s decision the court ruled that since the defendant was not under arrest and did not specifically invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, the prosecution could use his silence against him during trial. Justice Alito wrote the opinion.

FTC v. Actavis:

This case dealt with whether a brand-name drug manufacturer is allowed to pay off the makers of a generic version of the same drug in exchange for postponing the introduction of the generic drug to the market. This is known as “pay for delay.” In a 5 to 3 ruling (Justice Alito was recused), the Court reversed the Appeals Court’s dismissal of the case, and the result is that the FTC is now able to pursue action against Actavis.

Alleyne v. United States:

 Mandatory minimum sentencing often depends on the circumstances of the crime, some of which can greatly enhance the punishment required by law. The circumstances in this case hinged on whether the defendant knew that his accomplice would brandish a gun. While the jury did not find this to be true beyond reasonable doubt, the judge said that the fact was supported by preponderance of the evidence and thus should be factored into sentencing. The Court  in a 5 to 4 decision reversed the sentence and ruled that the Constitution requires facts which increase a mandatory minimum sentence to be determined by a jury.

Maracich v. Spears:

In 2006, South Carolina lawyers filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of four customers against hundreds of car dealerships, claiming that fees charged by the dealers violated a state consumer protection law. The group of lawyers sought and obtained driver records from the South Carolina DMV and used this information to solicit clients for their case. In response one of the attorneys for the dealerships counter sued, claiming that this was in violation of the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). Today the court ruled 5 to 4 that an attorney’s solicitation of clients is not a permissible purpose covered by a litigation exemption included in the DPPA.

Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council:

In a 7 to 2 decision, the Court overturned a Arizona voter registration law that required applicants to submit a proof of citizenship. The Court ruled that this requirement was preempted by National Voter Registration Act and therefore the federal law takes precedent. The NVRA set up federal voter registration form that had to be included by each state in their driver’s license applications. The extra requirement specified by the Arizona law in effect rejected this federal form, and as a result the Court struck down the law.

The Court did not rule on any of the high profile cases this term, which deal with topics such as voting rights, gay rights, and affirmative action. The next day we can expect further ruling is on Thursday.

Source- SCOTUS Blog


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