WBEZ | Supreme Court http://www.wbez.org/tags/supreme-court Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Big Changes Coming for Some Prisoners http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2016-01-26/big-changes-coming-some-prisoners-114619 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/solitary1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>By executive action, President Obama is banning the use of solitary confinement for juveniles held in federal prison, and also for low-level offenders.</p><p>Writing&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/barack-obama-why-we-must-rethink-solitary-confinement/2016/01/25/29a361f2-c384-11e5-8965-0607e0e265ce_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-d%3Ahomepage%2Fstory" target="_blank">in today&rsquo;s <em>Washington Post</em></a><em>, </em>Obama cites the case of Kalief Browder in New York City, who was 16 when he was accused of stealing a backpack.</p><hr /><p>Browder spent more than 400 days in solitary confinement during the three years he was held at Rikers Island without a trial.</p><p>He killed himself after he was released.</p><p>Yesterday, the Supreme Court&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/01/25/464338364/supreme-court-opens-door-to-parole-for-juvenile-lifers?utm_campaign=storyshare&amp;utm_source=twitter.com&amp;utm_medium=social" target="_blank">ruled in favor</a>&nbsp;of allowing parole or reduced sentences for inmates in state prisons who were children when they committed murder decades ago, a ruling that Antonin Scalia called &ldquo;<a href="http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/14-280_4h25.pdf#page=4" target="_blank">astonishing</a>.&rdquo;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2016/01/26/prison-solitary-confinement" target="_blank"><em> via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 12:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2016-01-26/big-changes-coming-some-prisoners-114619 Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case on Obama's Immigration Actions http://www.wbez.org/news/supreme-court-agrees-hear-case-obamas-immigration-actions-114508 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/obamaimmigration.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Supreme Court of the United States&nbsp;<a href="http://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/011916zor_l5gm.pdf">has decided to review</a>&nbsp;a challenge to President Obama&#39;s executive actions on immigration. As we&#39;ve reported, back in November of 2014,<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/11/20/365519963/obama-will-announce-relief-for-up-to-5-million-immigrants">&nbsp;Obama announced plans to shield up to 5 million undocumented immigrants</a>&nbsp;from deportation. Even before his plans got off the ground, lower courts put them on hold.</p><p>And late last year, a federal appeals court in New Orleans&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/10/455438464/appeals-court-deals-blow-to-obamas-immigration-plan">dealt the Obama administration a big blow</a>, deciding that the president had overstepped his legal authority when he issued the executive orders.</p><p>Now, the appeals process will bring it before the Supreme Court, which will have final say on the constitutionality of his action.</p><p>Under the plan, undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents would be allowed to remain here and receive a work permit. Obama also wanted to extend that protection to more immigrants who were brought here as children.</p><p>Obama said that he could take all of those actions under the guise of prosecutorial discretion, which gives the administration the power to decide which immigrants it wants to deport.</p><p>Here&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.scotusblog.com/2016/01/immigration-policy-review-and-decision-this-term/#more-237381">how SCOTUSblog explains the legal questions</a>&nbsp;in the case:</p><blockquote><div><p>&quot;A rather unusual aspect of the case was that, although the lower courts had not decided a constitutional question the states had raised, the Justices added that question on their own. It is whether the policy violates the constitutional clause that requires the president to &#39;take care&#39; that the laws passed by Congress are faithfully executed. It is rare for the Court to take up an issue that was left undecided in lower courts.</p><p>&quot;The question no doubt was added to assure that all aspects of the states&#39; challenge be reviewed together. In addition to that issue, the case involves whether the states had a legal right to sue, or are barred from doing so under Article III; whether the policy is &#39;arbitrary&#39; and beyond the president&#39;s powers over immigration policy, and whether it is illegal because the government did not seek public reaction to it before adopting it as policy.&quot;</p></div></blockquote><p>The case &mdash;&nbsp;United States v. Texas &mdash;&nbsp;will be argued in April and we can expect a ruling by June. In other words, the Court will release a ruling on a hotly debated issue just as the 2016 presidential election enters its primetime.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/19/463577862/supreme-court-agrees-to-hear-case-on-obama-s-immigration-actions?ft=nprml&amp;f=463577862" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 19 Jan 2016 10:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/supreme-court-agrees-hear-case-obamas-immigration-actions-114508 What is Fair? High School Students Talk About Affirmative Action http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2015-12-23/what-fair-high-school-students-talk-about-affirmative <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/raiye_slide-053b8b64f7bc34423f48fa1878b123aa07a6f0f9.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><h1><img alt="Students at Northwood High School in Silver Spring, Md., have many opinions on the affirmative action debate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/04/cd7a0716-2_straightenedtoned-9052725734f94c658f0702800b23759db93442e8-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Students at Northwood High School in Silver Spring, Md., have many opinions on the affirmative action debate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. (Elissa Nadworny/NPR)" /></h1></div><div id="storytext"><div id="res458470449" previewtitle="Students at Northwood High School in Silver Spring, Md., have many opinions on the affirmative action debate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court."><div><div><p>Now that the Supreme Court is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-12-07/affirmative-action-and-%E2%80%98one-person-one-vote%E2%80%99-supreme-court-" target="_blank">considering the issue of affirmative action in college admissions</a>, all kinds of groups are weighing in.</p><p>But we&#39;re not hearing from the people who will be most affected by the court&#39;s decision: college-bound teenagers.</p></div></div></div><p>The teenagers we talked to attend two suburban high schools near Washington, D.C.: One is majority black and the other school has a mix of Latino, black, white and Asian students.</p><p>The 16- and 17-year-olds knew little or nothing about the case that&#39;s before the Supreme Court &mdash;&nbsp;<em>Fisher v. </em><em>University</em><em> of Texas at Austin&nbsp;</em>&mdash; or about Abigail Fisher, the young woman who sued the university back in 2008.</p><p>Fisher was denied admission because, she argued, the university wanted more minorities and she was white.</p><p>So here&#39;s the question we asked the students:</p><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Should College Admissions Decisions Take Race Into Consideration?</strong></span></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:18px;">Anh-Thi Le, 17</span></strong></p></div><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/458466601/460562226" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe></p><div id="res460560627" previewtitle="High school senior Anh-Thi Le, 17, talks about her views on race-conscious admissions policies."><p data-crop-type=""><img alt="High school senior Anh-Thi Le, 17, talks about her views on race-conscious admissions policies." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/21/cd7a0787-2_slide-568ba40e2de51dd9cc6331f1709204d200bb71c5-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="High school senior Anh-Thi Le, 17, talks about her views on race-conscious admissions policies. (Elissa Nadworny/NPR)" /></p><div><p>The argument that college admissions policies are mostly about merit rings hollow for some students. Anh-Thi Le, 17, is Vietnamese-American and a senior at Northwood High School, one of the most racially diverse schools in Montgomery County, Md. Anh-Thi is applying to Georgetown University and other top schools where Asians are overrepresented.</p></div></div><div><p>&quot;If it&#39;s at a top school and I&#39;m just put against all these other accomplished Asian students, I&#39;m afraid they&#39;ll see me as just another Asian student ... like the same as everyone else.&quot;</p><p>Even though, says Anh-Thi, Asian kids from poor immigrant families like hers face the same daunting odds that poor black and Latino students face.</p><p>&quot;They weren&#39;t given as much guidance when it comes to college. They don&#39;t have the same resources like expensive SAT [prep] classes or educated parents who can teach them how to get into college. So, they have to work a lot harder than a white student. I don&#39;t think that&#39;s fair,&quot; Anh-Thi says.</p><h3>Calvin Stinson, 17</h3><h3 style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/458466601/460563039" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe><img alt="Calvin Stinson, a senior at Northwood, says race-neutral admissions policies sound fair." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/21/calvin_small_slide-c1a82a08fa2717930bae4e0b4342cd35eced2a83-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Calvin Stinson, a senior at Northwood, says race-neutral admissions policies sound fair. (Elissa Nadworny/NPR)" /></h3><p>So, what is fair? Calvin Stinson, a senior at Northwood, thinks race-neutral admissions policies sound fair. Calvin says he is half-Irish, half-Swedish. Should that matter to the admissions office at Tulane University where he&#39;s applying? No, says Calvin.</p><p>&quot;When I applied to Tulane, I put that I was white. Actually, my mom was saying, &#39;Don&#39;t put it down. Just leave it blank.&#39; I felt if it gives me a disadvantage, so be it, it gives me a disadvantage.&quot;</p><p>Calvin says he&#39;s not worried, though: His grades are good enough to get him into any good school. And that&#39;s how it should be.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:18px;">Donovan Harvey, 16</span></strong></p></div><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/458466601/460563214" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe><img alt="High school senior Donovan Harvey, 16, thinks race should be considered." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/21/donovan_slide-0a2f5dac0a33ad3839e9ff4e93978309930e915d-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="High school senior Donovan Harvey, 16, thinks race should be considered. (Elissa Nadworny/NPR)" /></p><p>&quot;Yes, I do think race should be taken into consideration when looking at college admissions,&quot; says Donovan Harvey, a senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Prince George&#39;s County, Md.</p><p>&quot;We hear all the time about the racial disparities in K-12 education slanted against minorities, particularly African-Americans and Latinos,&quot; says Donovan. &quot;So to me, it doesn&#39;t make any sense [that] when we&#39;re talking about higher education, oh, now it becomes colorblind. Now we&#39;re not going to look at race.&quot;</p><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Raiye</strong></span><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong> Seyoum, 16</strong></span></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="290" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/458466601/460578340" title="NPR embedded audio player" width="100%"></iframe></p><div id="res460577052" previewtitle="Raiye Seyoum, 16, a junior at Northwood, doesn't think quotas are fair."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Raiye Seyoum, 16, a junior at Northwood, doesn't think quotas are fair." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/21/raiye_slide-053b8b64f7bc34423f48fa1878b123aa07a6f0f9-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Raiye Seyoum, 16, a junior at Northwood, doesn't think quotas are fair. ( Elissa Nadworny/NPR)" /></div><div><div>Someone is always going to lose out. That&#39;s the problem, says Raiye Seyoum, a junior at Northwood who is not a fan of affirmative action.</div></div></div><div><p>&quot;I don&#39;t feel it&#39;s really fair. If they [schools] feel like, &#39;Oh, there aren&#39;t many Latino kids, let&#39;s accept them,&#39; &quot; says Raiye. &quot;What about that person who&#39;s working way harder? Just because you want to add a Latino person to your population ... it&#39;s really just not fair.&quot;</p></div><p><a href="http://Elissa Nadworny/NPR" target="_blank"><em>&mdash; via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 23 Dec 2015 15:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2015-12-23/what-fair-high-school-students-talk-about-affirmative Supreme Court Hears Arguments Testing 'One Person, One Vote' http://www.wbez.org/news/supreme-court-hears-arguments-testing-one-person-one-vote-114112 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-500412518_wide-448802b28efb2a812eb9524f2cdb266d0dc03a7a-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res458980153"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Activists hold signs during a news conference in front of the Supreme Court Tuesday." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/08/gettyimages-500412518_wide-448802b28efb2a812eb9524f2cdb266d0dc03a7a-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Activists hold signs during a news conference in front of the Supreme Court Tuesday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>The U.S. Supreme Court once again is weighing into a fraught elections case &mdash; a case with enormous potential political repercussions. At issue is the meaning of the &quot;one person, one vote&quot; principle.</p></div></div></div><p>The federal Constitution orders the Census Bureau to count every resident in the country so that they all can be represented in districts of equal population in the national House of Representatives. The status of state legislative districts, though, is less clear.</p><p>In a landmark 1964 decision, the Supreme Court did away with grossly malapportioned state legislative districts by ordering that state legislatures be divided on the basis of &quot;one person, one vote.&quot;</p><p>For a half century, the states have followed that ruling by designing state legislative districts roughly equal in population. Now, however, that definition is being challenged by a small cadre of conservative activists who contend that the one-person, one-vote principle is meant to equalize the number of eligible voters, not the total population in each district.</p><p>That would mean that children, immigrants &mdash; legal and illegal &mdash; and other groups, would be eliminated from the count.</p><p>On the steps of the Supreme Court Tuesday Texas State Senator Sylvia Garcia said that if the criterion for apportionment is voter eligibility, not population, her Houston district would grow from about 835,000 people to over a million. But at the same time the Latino population in her district would be reduced from 54 to 46 percent because children would no longer be counted and Latino families tend to be larger.</p><p>Winner and losers would not be entirely predictable, said Nina Perales, of the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund.</p><p>&quot;In a place like Texas, primarily rural voters would benefit, older more Anglo populations, but, on the other hand, pockets of Anglo populations with lots of kids in the suburbs would lose out,&quot; she said.</p><p>The named plaintiffs challenging the Texas State Senate map are&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuNKqbGu3Vg">YouTube-using conservative preacher</a>&nbsp;Edward Pfenninger, and Texas State Republican Executive Committee member Sue Evenwel. They are represented by the Project on Fair Representation, which two years ago persuaded the Supreme Court to strike down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Neither the challengers nor their lawyers came out on the Supreme Court steps to talk to reporters on Tuesday.</p><p>Inside, however, their lawyer, William Consovoy, told the justices that his clients votes count for as much as 50 percent less in State Senate races relative to the votes of those who live in counties with fewer eligible voters. Evenwell lives in a rural district with 584,000 eligible voters, while a neighboring district, equal in total population, has only 372,000 eligible voters. Therefore, he argued, her vote has less relative weight, and that the one-person, one-vote principle does not permit that.</p><p>&quot;For a half-century, the population has been the legitimate standard, not voter eligibility,&quot; interjected Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. &quot;We have never held to the contrary.&quot;</p><p>Consovoy replied that &quot;tradition doesn&#39;t trump the individual rights of a voter....&quot;</p><p>&quot;What you&#39;re forgetting is the dual interest,&quot; Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted, adding that there is a voting interest and a representational interest in state legislative districts.</p><p>&quot;Why would the constitution mandate a total population metric for the house of representatives and then forbid it for state legislatures?&quot; Justice Elena Kagan asked.</p><p>Ginsburg followed up, telling Consovoy, &quot;In your interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, from 1869 till 1920, the state should not have been counting women&quot; for the purposes of representation because they didn&#39;t have the right to vote.</p><p>Kagan pointed out that &quot;the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment explicitly considered this question and ... made a decision.&quot; She quoted one of the authors of the Amendment as declaring that what matters in representational government is &quot;numbers, not voters; numbers, not property, this is the theory of the Constitution.&quot;</p><p>In contrast, in this case, Kagan told Consovy, you are arguing, &quot;that States have to do it the exact opposite way.&quot;</p><p>Defending the Texas apportionment was the Texas Solicitor General, Scott Keller. He told the justices that all 50 states have drawn state legislative lines to create districts of equal population. Such a system would be unconstitutional, he said, only if it were targeted at limiting the voting power of a particular group.</p><p>&quot;The principle is called one person, one vote,&quot; Chief Justice John Roberts observed. &quot;That seems to be designed to protect voters.&quot;</p><p>Justice Samuel Alito said that the state could make either of two possible arguments. One is that total population figures are &quot;a good enough proxy for eligible voters ... and that&#39;s what the census measures.&quot; The second is that &quot;representational equality is the real basis&quot; and, therefore, that&#39;s why you use population. So which one of these arguments is the state making, Alito asked.</p><p>Keller dodged the question, only to face a series of skeptical queries from the Chief Justice and Justice Anthony Kennedy. Why, they wanted to know, couldn&#39;t states draw legislative lines that both equalize total population and minimize deviations in the number of eligible voters.</p><p>Keller questioned the feasibility of doing that, noting that the challengers, in this case, had proposed no alternative map to do what they want. Indeed, he said they had failed to demonstrate that doing so was possible.</p><p>Representing the federal government, Deputy Solicitor General Ian Gershengorn followed up, telling the justices that trying to draw district lines based on both population and voter eligibility presents real data problems. As a constitutional matter, he said it would be &quot;very odd&quot; for the court to demand data that does not exist, that does not even have to be collected under the constitution, and that does not in fact accurately measure voter eligibility.</p><p>As to combining population and voting eligibility criteria, he noted that in New York, for instance, Manhattan has 9 percent children in its population, while Brooklyn has 30 percent children. To equalize both population and voter eligibility, he said, would require pairing up the two boroughs. This method, Gershengorn observed, would ignore classic political subdivisions, and other factors that the Court has said are &quot;critical in redistricting.&quot;</p><p>At the end of the day, only one thing was sure. As big arguments go, this one was remarkably quiet. The usually verbose Justice Antonin Scalia asked not one question.</p><p>What that means is anybody&#39;s guess.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/08/458959423/supreme-court-hears-arguments-on-legislative-redistricting?ft=nprml&amp;f=458959423"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 08 Dec 2015 14:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/supreme-court-hears-arguments-testing-one-person-one-vote-114112 Rejecting Appeal On Assault Ban, Supreme Court Again Stays Out Of Gun Policy http://www.wbez.org/news/rejecting-appeal-assault-ban-supreme-court-again-stays-out-gun-policy-114077 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ap_210510367995_wide-eb1bfccb2754671092487a65eaea8bd092bcb0b6-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res458818130" previewtitle="Chicago suburb Highland Park banned the possession of what it called assault weapons, including AR-15s, like this one, and AK-47s, as well as large capacity magazines. Gun rights advocates challenged the ban, contending that it violated the Second Amendment's guarantee of a right to bear arms."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Chicago suburb Highland Park banned the possession of what it called assault weapons, including AR-15s, like this one, and AK-47s, as well as large capacity magazines. Gun rights advocates challenged the ban, contending that it violated the Second Amendment's guarantee of a right to bear arms." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/07/ap_210510367995_wide-eb1bfccb2754671092487a65eaea8bd092bcb0b6-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago suburb Highland Park banned the possession of what it called assault weapons, including AR-15s, like this one, and AK-47s, as well as large capacity magazines. Gun rights advocates challenged the ban, contending that it violated the Second Amendment's guarantee of a right to bear arms. (Charles Krupa/AP)" /></div><div><div><p>The U.S. Supreme Court has<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/justices-reject-challenge-local-assault-weapons-ban-114074" target="_blank"> rejected an appeal from gun owners</a> who challenged a ban on semi-automatic assault rifles and large-capacity ammunition magazines.</p></div></div></div><p>Two justices &mdash; Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia &mdash; would have heard the case and struck down the ban.</p><p>In deciding not to revisit the issue in the Highland Park case, the justices followed a pattern. Since declaring an individual right to bear arms, the court has largely stayed out of the gun control question altogether, refusing the pleas of gun rights advocates, in addition to many states that have urged the court to rule again and expand the right to gun ownership.</p><p>Monday&#39;s action leaves in place a decision issued by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a local ordinance enacted in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park. In 2013 the town enacted a statute banning the possession of what it called assault weapons, including AR-15s, and AK-47s, and it banned large capacity magazines that can accept more than 10 rounds.</p><p>Gun rights advocates promptly challenged the ban, contending that it violated the Second Amendment&#39;s guarantee of a right to bear arms. In 2008 the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Second Amendment protects the right to own a gun for self defense in the home. But the 5-4 decision appeared to leave government at all levels wide latitude to regulate gun ownership and possession.</p><p>Since then, many state and local governments have enacted new and stricter gun laws in the face of mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, in Aurora, Colo., and elsewhere. And at the same time, gun rights advocates have challenged these and other gun control laws, claiming these statutes are unconstitutional.</p><p>In the Highland Park case, the justices debated for months whether to review the lower court decision upholding the law. The fact that it took so long suggests either that Justices Thomas and Scalia were trying to persuade some of their colleagues to hear the case, and failed, or that neither side of the closely divided court was sure it had to votes to prevail.</p><p>Justice Thomas, writing for himself and Justice Scalia in dissent, said that there is nothing unusual about the guns banned by the Highland Park ordinance; calling them assault weapons, he said, is nothing more than &quot;anti-gun propaganda.&quot; Allowing this and other similar laws to stand, he said, &quot;flouts&quot; the court&#39;s previous rulings on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.</p></p> Mon, 07 Dec 2015 14:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rejecting-appeal-assault-ban-supreme-court-again-stays-out-gun-policy-114077 Affirmative Action and ‘One Person, One Vote’ Before The Supreme Court http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-12-07/affirmative-action-and-%E2%80%98one-person-one-vote%E2%80%99-supreme-court-114076 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1207_supreme-court-624x416.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_97321"><img alt="The United States Supreme Court building is framed by fall foliage November 6, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/12/1207_supreme-court-624x416.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="The United States Supreme Court building is framed by fall foliage November 6, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)" /><p>The Supreme Court&nbsp;today <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/justices-reject-challenge-local-assault-weapons-ban-114074" target="_blank">rejected a challenge to an assault-style weapons ban</a> in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park.</p></div><p>Later this week, the justices&nbsp;will hear arguments in two different cases related to the principle of &ldquo;one person, one vote,&rdquo; and one on whether universities should be able to consider race as a factor in admissions.</p><p><a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/12/07/supreme-court-one-person-one-vote" target="_blank"><em>Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s </em></a>Jeremy Hobson talks with&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/emilybazelon" target="_blank">Emily Bazelon</a>, who is a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine and a fellow at Yale Law School, about &ldquo;one person, one vote,&rdquo; and what it says that Fisher v. University of Texas is back before the Court.</p></p> Mon, 07 Dec 2015 14:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-12-07/affirmative-action-and-%E2%80%98one-person-one-vote%E2%80%99-supreme-court-114076 Justices Reject Challenge to Local Assault Weapons Ban http://www.wbez.org/news/justices-reject-challenge-local-assault-weapons-ban-114074 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_180037893168.jpg" style="height: 205px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title=" In this Jan. 16, 2013 file photo, assault weapons and handguns are seen for sale at Capitol City Arms Supply in Springfield, Ill. In a questionnaire for The Associated Press, the four GOP candidates for governor, state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford and businessman Bruce Rauner disagree on whether assault-style weapons should be banned. They also disagree on whether to support a measure creating minimum prison sentences for gun crimes. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)" /></p><p>WASHINGTON (AP) &mdash; Acting in the aftermath of the San Bernardino mass shooting, the Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from gun owners who challenged aChicago&nbsp;suburb&#39;s ban on assault weapons.</p><p>Two conservative justices said they would have heard the case and struck down the ban. The Illinois State Rifle Association, one of the plaintiffs, indicated that it would keep challenging local gun restrictions.</p><p>The court, though, left in place a lower court ruling that found that local governments have leeway in deciding how to regulate firearms. The federal appeals court inChicago&nbsp;had upheld the city of Highland Park&#39;s 2013 law that bans semi-automatic weapons and large-capacity magazines.</p><p>In October, the federal appeals court in New York largely upheld similar laws in Connecticut and New York, among a handful of states that ban semi-automatic weapons.</p><p>The Supreme Court has repeatedly turned away challenges to gun restrictions since two landmark decisions that spelled out the right to a handgun to defend one&#39;s own home.</p><p>Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, said the&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;appeals court ruling &quot;flouts two of our Second Amendment precedents.&quot; Without mentioning any mass shootings in California and elsewhere that involved semi-automatic guns, Thomas said the weapons ban &quot;is highly suspect because it broadly prohibits common semi-automatic firearms used for lawful purposes&quot; by roughly 5 million Americans.</p><p>&quot;The overwhelming majority of citizens who own and use such rifles do so for lawful purposes, including self-defense and target shooting,&quot; Thomas wrote.</p><p>The case had been under consideration at the high court for two months, but the delay in dealing with it now appears mainly due to waiting for Thomas to finish his opinion.</p><p>The appeal filed by Dr. Arie Friedman and the Illinois State Rifle Association argues that Highland Park has violated their constitutional rights by banning some of the most popular semi-automatic guns in the United States, as well as ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds.</p><p>Richard Pearson, the director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, was disappointed the Supreme Court did not hear the case but said his organization is still waiting for the conclusion of a state-court case challenging a similar ban in Illinois&#39; largest county, Cook County. He said the group will also keep looking for new plaintiffs in areas that have enacted assault-weapons prohibitions.</p><p>&quot;We are not going to give up and we&#39;re not going to go away,&quot; Pearson said.</p><p>Steven Elrod, an attorney who has represented Highland Park, did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press.</p><p>Even though lower courts have mainly upheld gun restrictions, the Highland Park case arises out of a decision by the federal appeals court in&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;that struck down the only statewide ban on carrying concealed weapons, in Illinois.</p><p>In 2013, when state lawmakers reacted to the court ruling by making it legal to carry a gun, they gave cities around the state 10 days to come up with local restrictions on assault weapons, or forfeit their right to do so.</p><p>Highland Park was one of fewer than 20 municipalities, all in the&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;area, to enact regulations or bans, according to the rifle association.</p><p>The city&#39;s assault weapons ban was upheld by the appeals court in a 2-1 decision.</p><p>Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote for the court that there is a &quot;substantial benefit&quot; to the Highland Park ordinance if it makes the public feel less at risk from a mass shooting. Variations of the Bushmaster AR-15, one of the guns specifically banned by Highland Park, were used in the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre and the theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado.</p><p>The gun control laws that the appeals court in New York upheld in October were passed after the 2012 massacre in Newtown.</p><p>Seven states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning assault weapons. The others are California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In addition, Minnesota and Virginia regulate assault weapons, the center said.</p><p>The case is<a href="http://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/120715zor_6j37.pdf" target="_blank"> Friedman v. Highland, 15-133</a>.</p><p><em>Associated Press reporter David Mercer in Champaign, Illinois, contributed to this report.</em></p></p> Mon, 07 Dec 2015 13:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/justices-reject-challenge-local-assault-weapons-ban-114074 Justices agree to hear first abortion case since 2007 http://www.wbez.org/news/justices-agree-hear-first-abortion-case-2007-113782 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1846178006_4fed70bfae_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON (AP) &mdash;&nbsp;The Supreme Court is taking on its first&nbsp;abortion&nbsp;case in eight years, a dispute over state regulation of&nbsp;abortion&nbsp;clinics.</p><p>The justices said Friday they will hear arguments over a Texas law that would leave about 10&nbsp;abortion&nbsp;clinics open across the state. A decision should come by late June, four months before the presidential election.</p><p>The high court previously blocked parts of the Texas law. The court took no action on a separate appeal from Mississippi, where a state law would close the only&nbsp;abortionclinic, in Jackson.</p><p>Arguments will take place in February or March.</p><p>States have enacted a wave of measures in recent years that have placed restrictions on when in a pregnancy&nbsp;abortions&nbsp;may be performed, imposed limits on&nbsp;abortions&nbsp;using drugs instead of surgery and raised standards for clinics and the doctors who work in them.</p><p>The new case concerns the last category. In Texas, the fight is over two provisions of the law that Gov. Rick Perry signed in 2013. One requires&nbsp;abortion&nbsp;facilities to be constructed like surgical centers. The other allows doctors to perform&nbsp;abortions&nbsp;at clinics only if they have admitting privileges at a local hospital.</p><p>Backers of the regulations say they are common-sense measures intended to protect women.&nbsp;Abortion&nbsp;rights groups say the regulations have only one aim: to make it harder, if not impossible, for women to get&nbsp;abortions&nbsp;in Texas.</p><p>&quot;Texans should have full freedom to prioritize women&#39;s health and safety over the bottom line of abortionists,&quot; said Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Steven H. Aden.</p><p>But Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, disagreed about the purpose of the law. &quot;This law does not advance women&#39;s health and in fact undermines it,&quot; Northup said.</p><p>Texas had 41&nbsp;abortion&nbsp;clinics before the clinic law. More than half of those closed when the admitting privileges requirement was allowed to take effect. Nineteen clinics remain.</p><p>Northup said the effect of the law has been to increase wait times for women in the Dallas area from an average of five days to 20 days.</p><p>The focus of the dispute at the Supreme Court is whether the law imposes what the court has called an undue burden on a woman&#39;s constitutional right to an&nbsp;abortion. If allowed to take full effect, the law would leave no&nbsp;abortion&nbsp;clinics west of San Antonio and only one operating on a limited basis in the Rio Grande Valley.</p><p>The state has argued that women in west Texas already cross into New Mexico to obtain&nbsp;abortions&nbsp;at a clinic in suburban El Paso.</p><p>In its decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in 1992, the court ruled that states generally can regulate&nbsp;abortion&nbsp;unless doing so places an undue burden on women. Casey was a huge victory for abortion-rights advocates because it ended up reaffirming the constitutional right to an&nbsp;abortion&nbsp;that the court established in Roe v. Wade in 1973.</p><p>In 2007, a divided court upheld a federal law that bans an&nbsp;abortion&nbsp;procedure that opponents call partial-birth&nbsp;abortion&nbsp;and opened the door to new limits on&nbsp;abortion.</p></p> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 13:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/justices-agree-hear-first-abortion-case-2007-113782 Supreme Court takes on racial discrimination in jury selection http://www.wbez.org/news/supreme-court-takes-racial-discrimination-jury-selection-113587 <p><div id="res453242119" previewtitle="Former state and federal prosecutors urging the Supreme Court to invalidate Foster's conviction because of &quot;blatant prosecutorial misconduct.&quot; They point to study after study showing that when it comes to getting rid of racial discrimination, the current system doesn't work."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Former state and federal prosecutors urging the Supreme Court to invalidate Foster's conviction because of &quot;blatant prosecutorial misconduct.&quot; They point to study after study showing that when it comes to getting rid of racial discrimination, the current system doesn't work." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/30/jury-selection-discrimination_custom-25ab1337df882d8033b06c7f3599d1f7c907b480-s800-c85.png" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Former state and federal prosecutors urging the Supreme Court to invalidate Foster's conviction because of &quot;blatant prosecutorial misconduct.&quot; They point to study after study showing that when it comes to getting rid of racial discrimination, the current system doesn't work. (Annette Elizabeth Allen/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>The U.S. Supreme Court wrestles Monday with a problem that has long plagued the criminal justice system: race discrimination in the selection of jurors.</p></div></div></div><blockquote><p><a href="http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/14-8349_20tsac_20Joseph_20diGenova.pdf" target="_blank"><em>&quot;Numerous studies demonstrate that prosecutors use peremptory strikes to remove black jurors at significantly higher rates than white jurors.&quot;</em></a></p></blockquote><p>Those are not the words of the defense in the case. They come from a group of highly regarded prosecutors, Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal, who have filed a friend-of-the-court brief siding with Timothy Foster, who was convicted and sentenced to death in the killing of an elderly white woman in Georgia.</p><p>It has been nearly 30 years since the Supreme Court sought to toughen the rules against racial discrimination in jury selection. But Foster&#39;s lawyers argue that black jurors were systematically excluded from the jury at his trial in 1987, while judges at all levels looked the other way for nearly three decades thereafter.</p><p>Jury selection is done according to a set of rules. Prospective jurors are usually questioned by both prosecution and defense lawyers and then winnowed down in two different ways. First, the judge removes, &quot;for cause,&quot; those jurors deemed incapable of being impartial. Next, each side, prosecution and defense, has a set number of peremptory strikes, meaning that a certain number of prospective jurors can be eliminated without a stated reason, or for no reason at all.</p><p>In 1986, the Supreme Court added a third step in a case called&nbsp;Batson v. Kentucky. Under the&nbsp;Batson&nbsp;rules, if the defense could show a racial pattern in prosecution peremptory strikes, the prosecutor would have to justify each one by demonstrating a non-racial reason for eliminating the juror.</p><p>Still, prosecutors found ways to get around this new rule, as demonstrated by an infamous training video made in Philadelphia in the late 1980s after the court&#39;s decision in&nbsp;Batson. The video features then Assistant District Attorney Jack McMahon advising trainees that &quot;young black women are very bad, maybe because they&#39;re downtrodden on two respects ... they&#39;re women and they&#39;re blacks.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="350" scrolling="no" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rv9SJPa_dF8?rel=0" width="540"></iframe></p><p>He goes on to recommend avoiding older black women too, as well as young black men, and all smart, and well educated prospective jurors.</p><p>But, McMahon reminded the trainees that they had to come up with a non-racial reason for their strikes: &quot;When you do have a black juror, you question them at length and on this little sheet that you have, mark something down that you can articulate at a later time if something happens,&quot; he says.</p><p>Studies have shown that these proffered reasons are often a mere pretext for racial discrimination. <a href="http://www.ncids.org/racebank/Sources/Strengthening%20Batson%20Challenges%20with%20the%20MSU%20Study.pdf" target="_blank">A North Carolina study of jury selection</a> in 173 death penalty cases found that black prospective jurors were more than twice as likely to be struck by the prosecution as similarly situated white jurors. A 2003 study of 390 felony jury trials prosecuted in Jefferson Parish, La. found that black prospective jurors were struck at three times the rate of whites. And in Houston County, Ala., prosecutors between 2005 and 2009 used their peremptory strikes to eliminate 80 percent of the blacks qualified for jury service in death penalty cases. The result was that half of these juries were all white, and the remainder had only a single black member, even though the county is 27 percent black.</p><p>At Timothy Foster&#39;s trial in Rome, Ga., the prosecutor used four of his nine peremptory strikes to knock out all the qualified black jurors in the jury pool. The defense cried foul, but the trial judge and every appellate court after that, including the Georgia Supreme Court, accepted the non-racial reasons. The prosecutors gave as many as a dozen reasons for striking each black prospective juror. These justifications included things like &quot;failure to make eye contact,&quot; looking &quot;bored,&quot; being &quot;divorced,&quot; or &quot;a social worker,&quot; and so on.</p><p>The appellate courts continued to accept these excuses even after Foster&#39;s lawyers obtained the prosecutor&#39;s notes in 2006 under the Georgia Open Records Act. It is rare that defense lawyers ever see these notes, and in this case, the prosecution&#39;s worksheets were not subtle.</p><p>The name of each black prospective juror was highlighted in green, circled, and labelled with a &quot;B.&quot; At the Supreme Court Monday, defense lawyer Stephen Bright, of the Southern Center for Human Rights, will tell the justices that everything about those notes reeks of racial discrimination.</p><p>&quot;They were referred to by B1, B2, B3,&quot; Bright says. &quot;There were comparisons made among the black jurors that, if we have to take a black, maybe Ms. Hardge will be okay, or maybe Ms. Garrett will be okay. They didn&#39;t, of course, take either one of those.&quot;</p><div id="res453217663" previewtitle="At Timothy Foster's 1987 trial, the names of prospective black jurors were highlighted in green, circled, and labelled with a &quot;b.&quot; The defense will argue that it reeks of racial discrimination. The state of Georgia's brief contents the jurors were labelled in order to be able to rebut potential allegations of racial discrimination. Eds note: Street addresses have been redacted by NPR."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Foster-v-Chatman-Joint-Appendix.pdf" target="_blank"><img alt="At Timothy Foster's 1987 trial, the names of prospective black jurors were highlighted in green, circled, and labelled with a &quot;b.&quot; The defense will argue that it reeks of racial discrimination. The state of Georgia's brief contents the jurors were labelled in order to be able to rebut potential allegations of racial discrimination. Eds note: Street addresses have been redacted by NPR." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/30/foster-v-chatman_custom-bb73b3f1a296470bd01b94a7d0c42746c0f15be6-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 323px; width: 620px;" title="At Timothy Foster's 1987 trial, the names of prospective black jurors were highlighted in green, circled, and labelled with a &quot;b.&quot; The defense will argue that it reeks of racial discrimination. The state of Georgia's brief contents the jurors were labelled in order to be able to rebut potential allegations of racial discrimination. Eds note: Street addresses have been redacted by NPR. (Courtesy of Squire Patton Boggs LLP)" /></a></div><div><p>Bright contends the State of Georgia continues to change its story about the justifications. For example, prosecutors initially said they struck juror Eddie Hood because he had a son close to the defendant&#39;s age. Later, when it turned out that two white jurors had sons who were close in age too, the prosecutor gave a different &quot;bottom line&quot; reason: Hood was a member of the Church of Christ.</p></div></div><p>&quot;They insisted that the Church of Christ took a strong position against the death penalty and that any member of the Church of Christ would vote against the death penalty,&quot; Bright says.</p><p>In fact, the Church of Christ took no position on the death penalty; the prosecution notes reflect that, and Hood testified that he could vote for the death penalty.</p><p>Then there was prospective juror Marilyn Garrett. The prosecution said it struck her because she was close to the age of the defendant. Foster was 19 at the time of trial, and Garrett was 34. In contrast, the prosecution accepted eight white jurors under 35, one of whom was only two years older than Foster.</p><p>The state of Georgia refused to provide anyone to be interviewed for this story. But the state&#39;s brief says that any attempt to characterize the jury challenges as racially motivated &quot;ignore[s] the multifaceted nature of jury selection.&quot; And the brief does provide a variety of reasons for each juror that was struck, reasons that the defense argues were not applied to similarly situated white prospective jurors.</p><p>The state&#39;s brief contends that the only reason prosecutors labeled the race of the prospective black jurors was to rebut the anticipated race discrimination claim by the defense.</p><p>No briefs have been filed in support of the state&#39;s position in the case. But, that earlier mentioned group of former state and federal prosecutors is urging the Supreme Court to invalidate Foster&#39;s conviction because of &quot;blatant prosecutorial misconduct.&quot;</p><p>They point to study after study showing that when it comes to getting rid of racial discrimination, the current system doesn&#39;t work. Prosecutors, they say, easily game the system by giving pretextual explanations, particularly in the South. In North Carolina, for example, prosecutors routinely handed out a one-page list of such reasons in training sessions.</p><p>Judges seem to have a high threshold for seeing racial bias, even in supposedly liberal states. In California, for instance, the state supreme court has dealt with 114 Batson appeals since 1993, according to court opinions, and in only one case out of the 114 did the state&#39;s highest court find evidence of racial discrimination.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s very hard politically with elected judges, very hard psychologically with judges and prosecutors who work together all the time, for a judge to make that finding,&quot; defense lawyer Bright says.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/brionv/306820854/in/photolist-bnP2yG-97P5Xp-d4jwcu-d34E93-97P91x-d4tQbs-5koSrA-d4BWDw-tws1VH-97P7nZ-97P6za-gd1Pxr-67MrYx-7aAaty-d4Amsj-t7x9J-4bEfVj-EYvm7-hDrkX-8sXyp5-5gE88t-eKVuo3-eRwjNk-d4P64U-d4AmFE-97ScbU-97P5fB-97Sbk7-97P2Xt-4q4keQ-x1x7L7-79v49P" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/306820854_28b2e93461_z.jpg" style="height: 164px; width: 620px;" title="&quot;If this won't affect my selection, how will it ensure that all people are represented?&quot; (flickr/brionv)" /></a></div><p>It&#39;s also true that statistical studies show that more racially diverse juries are in fact more skeptical of the prosecution&#39;s case and less likely to impose the death penalty. A 2004 study by the Capital Jury Project found that in cases with a black defendant and a white victim, the chances of a jury imposing the death sentence were sharply lower if one or more black men served on the jury.</p><p>Monday&#39;s Supreme Court case is widely viewed as a chance for the justices to once again rap the knuckles of the lower courts, but it&#39;s unlikely the court will be willing to establish hard and fast rules to prevent the kind of systemic discrimination that most in the criminal justice system acknowledge has plagued the courts from coast to coast.</p><p>Most experts say the only way to do that would be to eliminate or drastically limit peremptory strikes, and that is a non-starter for one simple reason. Most trial lawyers continue to believe these challenges are an essential tool for selecting a jury.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/02/452898470/supreme-court-takes-on-racial-discrimination-in-jury-selection?ft=nprml&amp;f=452898470" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 02 Nov 2015 10:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/supreme-court-takes-racial-discrimination-jury-selection-113587 Morning Shift: October 6, 2015 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-06/morning-shift-october-6-2015-113202 <p><p>The US Supreme Court is back in session, and just in time there&rsquo;s a new Gallup Poll that measures how Americans feel about the High Court. The <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-06/gallup-fifty-percent-americans-disapprove-supreme-court-113198">disapproval rating</a> of the court has reached a new high &mdash; about 50%.</p><p>We also talk with Cubs rookie sensation <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-06/cheryl-raye-stout-goes-1-1-rookie-sensation-kris-bryant-113197">Kris Bryant</a> about tomorrow&rsquo;s big game and what it&rsquo;s like to be coached by Joe Maddon.</p><p>And in the wake of 74 overdoses in a three-day period last week, we hear about the challenges of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-06/what-needs-be-done-prevent-heroin-ods-113199">stemming the tide of heroin</a> addiction in the area.</p><p>Plus the future of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-06/who-will-win-chicago-uber-or-taxis-and-what-does-mean-consumers">ride-sharing services</a> in Chicago.</p></p> Tue, 06 Oct 2015 12:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-06/morning-shift-october-6-2015-113202