Supreme Court Roundup Reveals Active Docket Ahead for Criminal, Corporate Cases

Public Affairs 212-854-2650
New York, October 6, 2009 – The 15th annual “Supreme Court Roundup” at Columbia Law School was a chance for expert court watchers to look back on notable public-interest and civil-rights cases from the last term and see what clues they might offer about future decisions.
The event presented by the Law School’s Social Justice Initiatives, was held on the same Monday the Supreme Court began its 2009-10 session (listen to the roundup here).
Steven Shapiro, an adjunct professor at the Law School and legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said much attention will inevitably be paid to the impact the newest justice, Sonia Sotomayor, has on the court.
“She will inevitably bring a woman’s perspective to the issues, which I think the court needs,” Shapiro said.
One of the first decisions likely to emerge from the court was argued in September in what was technically the previous term. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which focuses on the constitutionality of limiting a corporation’s spending during presidential and Congressional campaigns.
Nathaniel Persily, Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law and Justice, told the audience in Jerome Greene Hall that the Court was poised to lift that ban and invalidate a major piece of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.
“It looks like Chief Justice Roberts is ready to put the nail in the coffin,” Persily said.
Here are some notable cases the Court will hear in the first three months of the 2009-10 term:
Graham v. Florida – Whether a juvenile sentenced to life without parole for non-homicide crime has had his Eighth Amendment rights that bar cruel and unusual punishment violated. The Court will also hear Sullivan v. Florida, which deals with the same basic issue. However, the cases have not been consolidated.
Padilla v. Commonwealth of Kentucky – Whether defense lawyers must tell their immigrant clients they face deportation if they plead guilty to serious crimes.
Alvarez v. Smith – Whether defendants have right to a court hearing to challenge forfeiture in a drug crime.
Pottawattamie County, IA v. McGhee -- Whether a prosecutor may be sued for a wrongful conviction and incarceration where the prosecutor allegedly violated a criminal defendant’s “substantive due process” rights by procuring false testimony during an investigation, and then introduced that same testimony at trial.
Salazar v. Buono – Whether an individual can sue remove a cross on property government transferred to a private group. The case involves a cross, first erected as a World War I memorial, which stood in the federal Mojave National Preserve. The American Civil Liberties Union is suing on the grounds that it violates the ban on the government establishing a religion.
Jones v. Harris Associates – Whether an investor can challenge a mutual-fund advisor over excessive fees under the Investment Company Act.
Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board – Whether it was constitutional to create an accounting review board under Sarbanes-Oxley Act and not a violation of separation of powers because board members are not appointed by the president.
Bilski v. Kappos – Whether a business method patent can be tied to something other than a “machine or apparatus.”
Milavetz, Gallop & Milavetz v. U.S. – Whether Congress has the power to bar lawyers from advising debtors to take on more debt before filing for bankruptcy.
United States Aid Funds v. Espinosa – Whether student loans can be dismissed in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing without showing that repayment constitutes an “undue hardship.”
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