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Recent Supreme Court Decisions

Heffernan v. City of Paterson (April 26, 2016)
A violation of the First Amendment and 42 U.S.C. 1983 may arise when an employer demotes an employee to prevent the employee from engaging in protected political activity, even if the demotion was based on a factual mistake by the employer.

Harris v. Ariz. Indep. Redistricting Comm’n (April 20, 2016)
A deviation from the absolute equality of voting districts in a redistricting plan is valid under the Voting Rights Act as long as it is primarily made in good faith and based on legitimate considerations, especially if the deviation is under 10 percent.

Bank Markazi v. Peterson (April 20, 2016)
While Congress cannot order a court to reach a certain outcome in a case, it may constitutionally amend a law and make it retroactively applicable in pending litigation, even if it is designed to prescribe a rule for a single pending case that is specifically identified.

Molina-Martinez v. United States (April 20, 2016)
When a court uses an incorrect range under the sentencing guidelines, but the defendant's sentence happens to fall within the correct range, the defendant does not need to identify additional evidence on appeal to show that using the incorrect range affected the sentence.

Franchise Tax Bd. of Cal. v. Hyatt (April 19, 2016)
A state court may not apply a procedural rule that awards damages against another state that are greater than the damages that it could award in a similar situation against the forum state.

Most Read Opinions

Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985)
Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a police officer may use deadly force to prevent the escape of a fleeing suspect only if the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.

Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968)
Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a police officer may stop a suspect on the street and frisk him or her without probable cause to arrest, if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime and has a reasonable belief that the person "may be armed and presently dangerous."

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)
The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits states from segregating public school students on the basis of race. This marked a reversal of the "separate but equal" doctrine from Plessy v. Ferguson that had permitted separate schools for white and colored children provided that the facilities were equal.

Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)
Under the Fourth Amendment, any statements that a defendant in custody makes during an interrogation are admissible as evidence at a criminal trial only if law enforcement told the defendant of the right to remain silent and the right to speak with an attorney before the interrogation started. The prosecution also must be able to prove that any waiver of these rights was both knowing and voluntary.

Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963)
The government's withholding of evidence that is material to the determination of either guilt or punishment of a criminal defendant violates the defendant's constitutional right to due process.

Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)
A person may choose to have an abortion until a fetus becomes viable, based on the right to privacy contained in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Viability means the ability to live outside the womb, which usually happens between 24 and 28 weeks after conception.

Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961)
The prosecution is not allowed to present evidence that law enforcement secured during a search that was unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment.

Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)
A Texas law criminalizing consensual, adult homosexual intercourse violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896)
Later overruled by Brown v. Board of Education, this decision embraced the now-discredited idea that “separate but equal” treatment for whites and African-Americans is permissible under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Tinker v. Des Moines School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969)
Since First Amendment protections extend to students in public schools, educational authorities who want to censor speech will need to show that permitting the speech would significantly interfere with the discipline needed for the school to function.