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Supreme Podcast

What's New at the United States Supreme Court? Each week we bring you up to date coverage of the most recent cases and decisions before SCOTUS, discussing the Supreme Court's most recent grants and denials of certiorari, orders, opinions, oral arguments and constitutional jurisprudence. We also present in-depth special reports on the justices, important constitutional rights and the most controversial legal issues of our time (e.g. Abortion, Affirmative Action, Gay Rights, Women's Rights, Privacy, Campaign Finance, Same-Sex Marriage, Patent Law, Criminal Law and First Amendment Law). An essential podcast for any law school student or layperson interested in learning more about the Supreme Court and the United States Constitution.

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May a State Challenge an Executive Branch Decision to Defer the Deportation of Entire Classes of Illegal Aliens

On this episode, we review the Court's oral arguments in United States v. Texas, which considers whether a State has Article III standing and a justiciable cause of action under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. § 500 et seq., to challenge the Secretary’s exercise of immigration enforcement discretion, simply because an increase in the number of immigrants receiving deferred action might ultimately increase the net costs of the State’s driver’s license program.

57mins

8 May 2016

Rank #1

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Introduction to 2015-16 Term - Five Cases You Should Know

On this episode, we review five of the Court’s most controversial cases this Term thus far. Mullenix v. Luna - The doctrine of qualified immunity shields officials from civil liability so long as their conduct “‘does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.’” In this case, the Fifth Circuit held that Mullenix violated the clearly established rule that a police officer may not “ ‘use deadly force against a fleeing felon who does not pose a sufficient threat of harm to the officer or others.’” Was the Fifth Circuit correct in its statment of the law?Williams v. Pennsylvania - Are the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments violated where the presiding Chief Justice of a State Supreme Court declines to recuse himself in a capital case where he had personally approved the decision to pursue capital punishment against Petitioner in his prior capacity as elected District Attorney and continued to head the District Attorney's Office that defended the death verdict on appeal; where, in his State Supreme Court election campaign, the Chief Justice expressed strong support for capital punishment, with reference to the number of defendants he had "sent" to death row, including Petitioner; and where he then, as Chief Justice, reviewed a ruling by the state post- conviction court that his office committed prosecutorial misconduct under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), when it prosecuted and sought death against Petitioner?Heffernan v. Paterson - Whether the First Amendment bars the government from demoting a public employee based on a supervisor's perception that the employee supports a political candidate.Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole - Does a court err by refusing to consider whether and to what extent laws that restrict abortion for the stated purpose of promoting health actually serve the government’s interest in promoting health?Little Sisters v. Burwell (and the consolidated cases) - Does the contraceptive coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act?Next week, we will continue our coverage of the Court’s top cases this Term, with a review of the oral arguments in Evenwel v. Abbott, an important voting rights case, and Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, an affirmative action case that the Court is hearing for a second time.

57mins

6 Dec 2015

Rank #2

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Unabridged Oral Arguments in California Teachers Union Case

On this episode we present the full oral arguments in one of the Court's most controversial cases of the term - Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which considers whether to overrule a prior Supreme Court decision approving of laws that require all employees represented by a union to pay the union "fair share service fees" for the cost of collective bargaining activities. Several California teachers argue that their First Amendment rights have been violated because they disagree with the Union.

1hr 22mins

16 Jan 2016

Rank #3

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Affirmative Action Oral Arguments

On this episode, we review the oral arguments this week in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which asks:Whether the Fifth Circuit’s re-endorsement of the University of Texas at Austin’s use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions decisions can be sustained under this Court’s decisions interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, including Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, 133 S. Ct. 2411 (2013).

22mins

12 Dec 2015

Rank #4

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Decision - When Are Threatening Posts on Facebook Criminal?

On this episode, we discuss the Court's decision in Elonis v. United States, which concerns whether conviction of threatening another person under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c) requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten or whether it is enough to show that a “reasonable person” would regard the statement as threatening.

8mins

7 Jun 2015

Rank #5

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Decision - Did Abercrombie & Fitch's Decision Not to Hire a Woman Who Wore a Headscarf Violate Title VII?

On this episode we review the Court's decision in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal for an employer “to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s * * * religion.” "Religion” includes “all aspects of religious observance and practice” unless “an employer demonstrates that he is unable to reasonably accommodate” a religious observance or practice “without undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.” The question presented in this case was whether an employer can be liable under Title VII for refusing to hire an applicant or discharging an employee based on a “religious observance and practice” only if the employer has actual knowledge that a religious accommodation was required and the employer’s actual knowledge resulted from direct, explicit notice from the applicant or employee.

12mins

7 Jun 2015

Rank #6

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What Constitutes an Undue Burden on Abortion?

On this episode, we review the oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, which considers the constitutionality of a Texas law that requires a physician performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a hospital within thirty miles of the location where they perform abortions (known as the “admitting privileges requirement”) and requires all abortion clinics to comply with standards set for ambulatory surgical centers (known as the “ASC requirement”), which would require among other added expenses major construction upgrades to many facilities. Petitioners argue that the Texas law, if constitutional, would lead to the closing of a majority of the abortion clinics in Texas.

44mins

10 Mar 2016

Rank #7

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Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia ("Nino") In Memoriam

On this episode we remember one of the most influential and controversial justices to ever sit on the United States Supreme Court.

21mins

15 Feb 2016

Rank #8

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Is it a Crime to Buy a Public Official's Time or Influence?

On this episode we review the Court's decision in McDonnell v. United States, which considers whether a former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell was given a fair trial when he was convicted under the federal bribery statute (18 U. S. C. §201), which makes it a crime for “a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly” to demand, seek, receive, accept, or agree “to receive or accept anything of value” in return for being “influenced in the performance of any official act.” Specifically, the Court considered whether it was appropriate for the trial court to refuse Governor McDonnell's request to specifically instruct the jury that “merely arranging a meeting, attending an event, hosting a reception, or making a speech are not, standing alone, ‘official acts."

14mins

9 Jul 2016

Rank #9

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The Texas Abortion Case

On this episode, we review the Court's decision this week in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, which considered whether a Texas law that had the effect of closing half of the abortion clinics in the state constituted “[u]nnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion" that the Court had declared unconstitutional in its landmark 1992 case Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey.

14mins

29 Jun 2016

Rank #10

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Decision - Gay Marriage

On this episode, we review the Court’s much-anticipated decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, wherein the Court considered whether the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?

1hr 1min

30 Jun 2015

Rank #11

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Decision - Does the Confrontation Clause Bar Admission of Statements Concerning Child Abuse Made by a Child to a Teacher?

On this episode, we discuss the Court's decision this week in Ohio v. Clark, which considered weather a child’s out-of-court statements to a teacher in response to the teacher’s concerns about potential child abuse qualify as “testimonial” statements subject to the Confrontation Clause?

18mins

22 Jun 2015

Rank #12

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Does a Ban on Stun Guns Infringe the 2nd Amendment?

On this episode, we review the Court's decision this week in Caetano v. Massachusetts, wherein a women in Massachusetts was convicted of violating a Massachusetts' statute outlawing the possession of stun guns, which she carried for purposes of self-defense after separating from her abusive former partner. The Court considered whether a stun gun an "arm" within the meaning of the Second Amendment and whether Massachusetts' blanket prohibition on the possession of stun guns infringes the right of the people to keep and bear arms under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments?

6mins

26 Mar 2016

Rank #13

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Did Congress Violate Separation of Powers by Directing a Statute to a Particular Case?

On this episode, we review the oral arguments in Bank Markazi v. Peterson, which asks the Supreme Court to resolve whether §502 of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 directed to “the financial assets that are identified in and the subject of proceedings in New York in Peterson et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran et al., Case No. 10 Civ. 4518," violates the separation of powers. At stake is nearly $2 billion of bonds of the Central Bank of Iran that plaintiffs are seeking to attach to pay judgments for hundreds of Americans killed in multiple Iran‐sponsored terrorist attacks.

11mins

17 Jan 2016

Rank #14

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Decision - May Congress Force the State Department to Recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel?

On this episode, we discuss the Court's decision last week in Zivotofsky v. Kerry, which considered whether a federal statute that directs the Secretary of State, on request, to record the birthplace of an American citizen born in Jerusalem as born in "Israel" on a Consular Report of Birth Abroad and on a United States passport is unconstitutional on the ground that the statute "impermissibly infringes on the President's exercise of the recognition power reposing exclusively in him."

19mins

15 Jun 2015

Rank #15

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Illegal Police Stop Resulting in the Discovery of an Outstanding Warrant

On this episode we review the Court's oral arguments in Utah v. Strieff, in which the Court is asked whether evidence seized incident to a lawful arrest on an outstanding warrant be suppressed because the warrant was discovered during an investigatory stop later found to be unlawful.

23mins

4 Mar 2016

Rank #16

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May States Criminalize the Refusal to Submit to a Breathalyzer Test?

On this episode, we review the oral arguments this week in three consolidated cases, known as Birchfield v. North Dakota, in which the Court considers whether in the absence of a warrant, a State may make it a crime for a person to refuse to take a chemical test to detect the presence of alcohol in the person’s blood.

30mins

23 Apr 2016

Rank #17

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The President's Discretion to Apply Immigration Laws

On this episode, we review the Court's decision to grant review to the case of United States v. Texas, which asks the Court to decide whether the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has the discretion to broaden its interpretation of which aliens are entitled to deferred deportation without considering the costs of such a decision on the states and the people under notice-and-comment procedures required by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).

16mins

25 Feb 2016

Rank #18

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May Congress Legislate a New Rule That Courts Must Apply in a Particular Pending Case

This case concerns nearly $2 billion of bonds in which Bank Markazi, the Central Bank of Iran, held an interest in Europe as part of its foreign currency reserves. Plaintiffs, who hold default judgments against Iran, tried to seize the assets. While the case was pending, Congress enacted §502 of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, 22 U.S.C. §8772. By its terms, that statute applies only to this one case: to “the financial assets that are identified in and the subject of proceedings in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Peterson et al. v. Islamic Republic of Iran et al. “In order to ensure that Iran is held accountable for paying the judgments,” it provides that, notwithstanding any other state or federal law, the assets “shall be subject to execution” upon only two findings—essentially, that Bank Markazi has a beneficial interest in them and that no one else does. The question presented is:Whether §8772—a statute that effectively directs a particular result in a single pending case—violates the separation of powers.

5mins

11 May 2016

Rank #19

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Is a Gang That Robs Drug Dealers Engaged in Interstate Commerce?

On this episode we review the oral arguments this week in Taylor v. United States, which considers whether, in a federal criminal prosecution under the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. §1951, the Government is relieved of proving beyond a reasonable doubt the interstate commerce element by relying exclusively on evidence that the robbery or attempted robbery of a drug dealer is an inherent economic enterprise that satisfies, as a matter of law, the interstate commerce element of the offense.

14mins

28 Feb 2016

Rank #20