U.S. Supreme Court | KERA News

U.S. Supreme Court

For the first time in its 231-year history, the Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments remotely by phone and made the audio available live.

The new setup went off largely without difficulties, but produced some memorable moments, including one justice forgetting to unmute and an ill-timed bathroom break.

Here are the top five can't-miss moments from this week's history-making oral arguments.

In this Dec. 3, 2003, file photo, death row inmate Randy Halprin, then 26, sits in a visitation cell at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas.
Associated Press

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up the case of a Texas death row inmate who argued he should get a new trial because the judge who presided over his case was biased against Jews.

Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a Texas-led challenge to the Affordable Care Act, the justices said Monday, marking the third major case in which former President Barack Obama's landmark health law has earned the scrutiny of the country’s highest court.

There's no dispute on whether Jesus Mesa Jr. killed 15-year-old Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca.

He did. And there's a video of it.

In 2010 Mesa, an on-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent who was at the border in El Paso, Texas, shot Hernández at least twice — once in the face. At the time, the boy, a Mexican national, was on the southern side of the border in Ciudad Juarez.

Ken Paxton
Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to strike down a 2016 California law that bans state-funded travel to states with discriminatory laws — a list Texas landed on nearly three years ago after the Legislature approved a religious-refusal law for adoptions in the state.

Updated Sunday at 12:43 p.m. ET

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was released from the hospital Sunday, two days after she was admitted for chills and fever.

"She is home and doing well," the court said in a statement.

Ginsburg checked in to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on Friday.

DACA recepients protest at U.S. Supreme Court
Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

Sharply at odds with liberal justices, the Supreme Court's conservative majority seemed ready Tuesday to allow the Trump administration to abolish protections that permit 660,000 immigrants to work in the U.S., free from the threat of deportation.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in a highly anticipated set of cases that threatens the legal status of some 700,000 young immigrants — often called DREAMers — who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. It's a program that President Trump tried to rescind seven months after taking office, only to have the lower courts block his action.

A closely watched lawsuit that could provide a roadmap for suing gun companies in the wake of mass shootings can move forward in a Connecticut court, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

Protesters in favor of DACA protections at Supreme Court
Susan Walsh / Associated Press

The Supreme Court is taking up the Trump administration's plan to end legal protections that shield 660,000 immigrants from deportation, a case with strong political overtones amid the 2020 presidential election campaign.

Associated Press

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch was in Dallas Wednesday night, speaking at the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Gorsuch says life on the Supreme Court is like working in a small office and stressed the importance of civility.

Associated Press

The Justice Department said Friday it will press its search for legal grounds to force the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, hours after President Donald Trump said he is "very seriously" considering an executive order to get the question on the form.

Updated 7:45 p.m. ET

In a 5-4 decision along traditional conservative-liberal ideological lines, the Supreme Court ruled that partisan redistricting is a political question — not reviewable by federal courts — and that those courts can't judge if extreme gerrymandering violates the Constitution.

The ruling puts the onus on the legislative branch, and on individual states, to police redistricting efforts.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court is leaving in place part of an Indiana law that mandates that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated.

The court did not take up a second part of the law that banned abortions because of fetal abnormality, the fetus's race, sex or ancestry. A lower court struck down that part of the law in addition to the burial provision. The Supreme Court, though, said it will wait for other lower court rulings before weighing in on the fetal characteristics provision.

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From Texas Standard:

When there's a vacancy on the Supreme Court, a president has the opportunity to fill that slot with someone who shares his or her political perspective and values. As a result, the president cements a legacy. But nominations can spark backlash from a opponents, which happened when Lyndon Johnson nominated Abe Fortas for chief justice as Johnson was finishing up his term as president in the late 1960s. Some conservative senators vowed to prevent the lame-duck president from pushing through his nominee. This happened more than 50 years ago, but it's an echo of what's happening today with our current president, his Supreme Court nominees and Congress.

The Supreme Court has accepted three cases that ask whether federal anti-discrimination laws should apply to sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace, putting the court on track to consider high-profile LGBTQ issues after its next term begins this fall.

Updated 12:59 p.m. ET

A closely divided Supreme Court ruled Monday that a death row inmate with a rare medical condition is not entitled to an alternative method of execution just because the one the state uses could cause him several minutes of great pain and suffering.

Two Supreme Court decisions just hours before a scheduled execution. Two decisions just seven weeks apart. Two decisions on the same issue. Except that in one, a Muslim was put to death without his imam allowed with him in the execution chamber, and in the other, a Buddhist's execution was temporarily halted because his Buddhist minister was denied the same right.

The two apparently conflicting decisions are so puzzling that even the lawyers are scratching their heads and offering explanations that they candidly admit are only speculative.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the execution of a Buddhist inmate on death row because prison officials wouldn't let his spiritual adviser be present in the execution chamber, even though they provide chaplains for inmates of some other faiths.

Illustration by Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Hours after his execution was originally scheduled to begin, the U.S Supreme Court stopped the death of one of the infamous "Texas Seven."

Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court officially denied an appeal from gun rights advocates seeking to stop a Trump administration ban on bump stocks, the gun add-ons that can dramatically increase their rate of fire. The ban went into effect on Tuesday.

Partisan gerrymandering is back at the U.S. Supreme Court.

A year and a pivotal justice's retirement after the high court dodged the question, those seeking to break the political stranglehold over legislative redistricting are urging the justices to draw a line beyond which the Republican and Democratic parties cannot go in entrenching their political power, sometimes for decades at a time.

From Texas Standard:

Tuesday, after five years of legal wrangling, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in a challenge to rules allowing the federal government to detain immigrants with criminal convictions, even if they entered the U.S. lawfully, and even after they have served their time. The decision prevents such an immigrant from appealing a detention decision, and could allow indefinite detention.

The U.S. Supreme Court signaled strongly on Wednesday that it is likely to rule for a death row inmate in Mississippi who was prosecuted six times for the same crime by a prosecutor with a history of racial bias in jury selection.

The arguments, more passionate and fact-filled than usual, also had a surprise ending when Justice Clarence Thomas posed a question — the first time in three years.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case on regulations that ban New York City residents from transporting handguns outside the city.
Chris Haxel, KCUR

For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving constitutional gun rights.

While the ruling will directly affect only a small group of people ‒ New York City residents who are licensed to own a handgun and want to be able to take that gun outside city limits ‒ the court's decision to accept the case could signal a new willingness to wade into questions surrounding the Second Amendment.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has no remaining signs of cancer after her surgery last month, requires no additional treatment, but will miss oral arguments at the court next week to rest, the Supreme Court said Friday.

While odds for a recovery from the surgery she had are good, they go way up if the subsequent pathology report shows no cancer in the lymph nodes. On Friday, the court released a written statement saying there is no additional evidence of cancer.

The Trump administration's push to deport more immigrants in the country illegally has hit a legal speed bump.

For years, immigration authorities have been skipping one simple step in the process: When they served notices to appear in court, they routinely left the court date blank. Now, because of that omission and a recent Supreme Court decision, tens of thousands of deportation cases could be delayed, or tossed out altogether.

The Texas Tribune

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add comments from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, called Monday for "bipartisan participation" in addressing sexual assault allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh that have thrown the prospects of his pending confirmation vote into chaos.

Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped up four days of hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The committee is likely to vote on Kavanaugh in about two weeks.

And nothing in this week's often partisan-squabbling, protest-interrupted spectacle has changed the likely outcome: a party-line vote in favor of Kavanaugh's elevation to the high court.

Here's a look back at some themes, issues and events of the past four days.

1. "Women for Kavanaugh"

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