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Articles Posted in United States Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court may consider whether police need an arrest warrant to enter a person’s home or whether they can enter a home without probable cause that the person resides there and is present.

The Supreme Court ruled in Payton v. New York, 445 U. S. 573 (1980) that the Fourth Amendment prohibits police from entering a suspect’s home without a warrant or under exigent circumstances. The Court struck down a New York statute providing for such warrantless entries because the Fourth Amendment draws a firm line at the entrance to the house.

The circuit split referenced in the petition for cert in the Pennington case refers to the disagreement among the lower courts on the standard required for police to enter a suspect’s home to execute an arrest warrant. Some circuits require police to have additional probable cause beyond the arrest warrant to enter a residence, while others do not.

Can an Attorney Represent Co-defendants? United States Supreme Court May Decide.

In many states, it is legal for two co-defendants in a crime to retain the same attorney. However, this is not the ideal situation because it is ripe for conflicts of interest. Co-defendants in a criminal case likely have information about the other defendant that can be detrimental to their case and will oftentimes “flip” on their codefendant. It can be difficult for an attorney to represent both codefendants competently and diligently as required. The American Bar Association advises against representing co-defendants, but there is no general law forbidding it. The Supreme Court could change this. The case of Holcombe v. Florida is pending before the Supreme Court and asks the Court whether an “actual” conflict of interest that adversely affects counsel’s representation when the attorney engages in “joint and dual” representation – i.e., simultaneously representing both the defendant and a key prosecution witness during a trial. 

What happened in Holcombe v. Florida?

Is Solitary Confinement Torture? United States Supreme Court May Decide.

 The United Nations considers solitary confinement exceeding 15 days to be torture, however solitary confinement is a popular method of inmate discipline in American prisons. Solitary confinement is also used for an inmate’s own safety if the inmate’s case was high profile or if the inmate has a higher chance of being injured by the other inmates. Dennis Wayne Hope has been in solitary confinement for 27 years. Hope v. Harris may be a turning point for prison reform if it reaches the United States Supreme Court.

What happened in the Hope case?

United States Supreme Court Reinstates Death Penalty for Boston Marathon Bomber

The Boston Marathon bombings were a tragic act of domestic terrorism. Brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev planted two homemade pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and wounding hundreds more. The three individuals who died, were two young women and an eight year old boy. They all bled to death after being hit with materials from the bomb. Many of those who were injured lost limbs. In the aftermath of the attacks, the brothers fled and murdered a MIT campus police officer, and got into an altercation with police which resulted in Dzhokhar accidently killing Tamerlan. Dzhokhar was indicted for 30 crimes, including 17 capital offenses. After a lengthy and publicized trial, Dzhokhar was sentenced to death. However the Court of Appeals vacated this decision after finding that the District Court abused its discretion during jury selection by declining to ask about the kind and degree of each prospective juror’s media exposure and that the District Court abused its discretion during sentencing when it excluded evidence concerning Tamerlan’s possible involvement other murders. The Supreme Court took this case in United States v. Tsarnaev.

What happened in the Tsarnaev case?

What Makes a Defendant Intellectually Disabled? United States Supreme Court May Decide.

The Eighth Amendment of the constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. A punishment is considered cruel and unusual for many reasons, one of which is if the punishment is grossly disproportionate to the crime committed. In general, sentencing an intellectually disabled person to death is considered cruel and unusual punishment. The standard for providing an intellectual disability may soon change if the United States Supreme Court grants cert to the case of Commonwealth v. Knight

What happened in the Knight case? 

United States Supreme Court Blocks Vaccine or Test Rule

Over the past few weeks, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 variant has exploded. As a response to the rising cases, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandated that employers with at least 100 employees require covered workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This week, the Supreme Court blocked this rule in National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

What happened in this case?  

United States Supreme Court Likely to Dramatically Change Access To Abortion in Summer 2022 

As of now, abortion is considered a constitutional right under Roe v. Wade. Roe was decided in 1973 when the Supreme Court held that the right for a woman to get an abortion is protected under the implied right to privacy that is in the “penumbras” of the constitution. This right to privacy extends to people’s private lives, including sex, contraception, marriage, child rearing, and abortion. 

There have been challenges to abortion before, but none as flagrant as the case that the Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which asks the Supreme Court “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” The state of Mississippi, where this clinic is located, is hoping that the Supreme Court will answer “yes.” 

Will Affirmative Action in College Admissions Become A Thing of the Past? Supreme Court May Decide. 

Minorities in this country, specifically Black Americans, have suffered unthinkable injustices on the basis of race. The Supreme Court in the controversial 2003 case of Grutter v. Bollinger the Supreme Court held that using race as a factor in college admissions does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. However, the Supreme Court did strike down the use of racial quotas in college admissions in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, back in 1978. 

The current state of affirmative action for college admissions is that race can be used as a “soft plus factor” but strict racial quotas are prohibited. The opinion in Grutter made clear that affirmative action was not meant to last forever, rather it was supposed to be used for as long as it takes to reach equality among the races, and to reverse past injustices. Affirmative action was always meant to be a temporary solution. 

Texas’s Unconstitutional Abortion Ban

In 1965, the world was a very different place. Not only was abortion illegal, but the use of contraceptives were illegal in many places as well. Restrictive rules regarding the use of contraceptives were prominent throughout the country. In Connecticut, this rule was enforced against two doctors, Griswold and Buxton, who opened a birth control clinic. In the case of Griswold v. Connecticut, the doctors challenged the constitutionality of the Connecticut statute under the Fourteenth Amendment, and the case made its way up to the Supreme Court.

What is the right to privacy?

Homicide is the most serious offense. In most states, homicide is punished more severely if the victim is a law enforcement officer. But, what if this murder is committed outside an American territory? Federal statute 18 U.S.C § 1114 makes it illegal to kill any government officer engaged in their official duties. For years, federal courts have generally avoided applying statutes extraterritorially, except in cases where Congress clearly indicates that this is their intent. However, some courts have recently begun applying the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of United States v. Bowman to justify applying 18 U.S.C § 1114 outside the country. Bowman held that U.S. courts have jurisdiction to try crimes committed at sea or abroad, even if not specifically conferred by statute if the nature of the crime logically includes them.

There is currently a circuit split regarding this issue, with the Eleventh and Second Circuits holding that 18 U.S.C § 1114 applies extraterritorially, while the D.C. Circuit held that it does not any such application.

18 U.S.C. § 1114 says the following: 

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