Recent Posts by comp_import

Young v. American Mini Theatres, Inc - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Young v. American Mini Theatres, Inc., 427 U.S. 50, 96 S.Ct. 2440, 49 L.Ed.2d 310 (1976), the Supreme Court upheld a zoning ordinance that dispersed adult theaters throughout the city.

An adult theater in Detroit could not operate within 1,000 feet of any other adult theater or other regulated use.

The Supreme Court found no constitutional infirmity in the application of Detroit's zoning law to adult theaters.

The Court rejected an argument that the dispersal requirements alone muzzled protected speech. (427 U.S. at 62-63, 96 S.Ct. at 2448-49.)

Young v. American Mini Theatres - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Young v. American Mini Theatres, 427 U.S. 50, 96 S.Ct. 2440, 49 L.Ed.2d 310 (1975), the Court upheld an "Anti-Skid Row Ordinance" which provided, inter alia, that an adult theater could not be located within 1,000 feet of any two other "regulated uses," or within 500 feet of a residential area. "Regulated uses" included sexually oriented bookstores and theaters, cabarets, bars, dance halls and hotels restricted to an adult clientele.

A plurality opinion authored by Justice Stevens reasoned that the lines drawn by the ordinance were justified by the City's legitimate interest in preventing urban blight and crime.

Arguing that ultimately what was at stake was "nothing more than a limitation on the place where adult films may be exhibited," American Mini Theatres, 427 U.S. at 71, 96 S.Ct. at 2452, it held that the ordinance did not violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Yee Hem v. United States - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Yee Hem v. United States, 268 U.S. 178 (1925), it appeared that an Act of Congress prohibited importation of opium except under Treasury regulations and the latter forbade importation of smoking opium.

The statute made it an offense knowingly to conceal opium illegally imported and threw upon a defendant found in possession of smoking opium the burden of showing that he had not acquired it through illegal importation.

The Supreme Court sustained the presumption on the ground that no lawful purchase of smoking opium could occur in this country and that, therefore, possession gave rise to sinister implications.

It concluded it was not unreasonable to create a presumption of unlawful importation as the source of the commodity the possession of which the defendant concealed.

Woodford v. Visciotti - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Woodford v. Visciotti, 537 U.S. 19 (2002) (per curiam), the defendant was convicted of "a cold-blooded execution-style killing of one victim and attempted execution-style killing of another, both during the course of a preplanned armed robbery." Id. at 26.

His prior offenses included "the knifing of one man, and the stabbing of a pregnant woman as she lay in bed trying to protect her unborn baby." Id.

Viewing the ineffective assistance claim through the deferential lens of Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), id. at 21, the Supreme Court held that the state court's conclusion that the defendant failed to demonstrate prejudice was not objectively unreasonable, id. at 26-27.

The Court emphasized the relative weakness of the available mitigating evidence. Id. at 26.

The defendant showed only that, as a child, he had been berated, lacked self-esteem, moved frequently, and possibly had a seizure disorder. His "troubled family background" did not include any evidence of physical abuse or severe deprivation. Id.

Wilson v. Layne - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Wilson v. Layne, 526 U.S. 603 (1999), the Court found that the right was not sufficiently clearly established to warrant finding the individual officers liable in damages.

The Wilson Court noted that "what `clearly established' means in this context depends largely upon the level of generality at which the relevant legal rule is to be identified." Wilson, 526 U.S. at 614.

The Court stated:

It could plausibly be asserted that any violation of the Fourth Amendment is "clearly established," since it is clearly established that the protections of the Fourth Amendment apply to the actions of police.... However, the right allegedly violated must be defined at the appropriate level of specificity before a court can determine if it was clearly established. In this case, the appropriate question is the objective inquiry of whether a reasonable officer could have believed that bringing members of the media into a home during the execution of an arrest warrant was lawful, in light of clearly established law.... Id. at 615.

The Court then proceeded to answer the question it posed. "First," it said, "the constitutional question presented by this case is by no means open and shut.... Accurate media coverage of police activities serves an important public purpose, and it is not obvious from the general principles of the Fourth Amendment that the conduct of the officers in this case violated the Amendment." Id. at 615-16.

Second, the Court cited the absence of any decisions that were directly on point. Third, it pointed out that the officers had relied on a policy of the Marshal's Service that "explicitly contemplated that media who engaged in ride-alongs might enter private homes," and that where the state of the law was undeveloped, it was not unreasonable for the officers to rely on a formal policy of their department. Id. at 617.

As a result, the Court concluded that it would not have been unreasonable for an officer to have believed, in 1992, that the ride-along was lawful. See id. at 617-18.

WHYY, Inc. v. Glassboro - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In WHYY, Inc. v. Glassboro, 393 U. S. 117 (1968), the Supreme Court struck down a New Jersey statute exempting nonprofit corporations incorporated in New Jersey from tax, but denying a similar exemption to nonprofit corporations incorporated in other States.

The Supreme Court stated the applicable principle of law as follows:

"This Court has consistently held that while a State may impose conditions on the entry of foreign corporations to do business in the State, once it has permitted them to enter, `the adopted corporations are entitled to equal protection with the state's own corporate progeny, at least to the extent that their property is entitled to an equally favorable ad valorem tax basis.' Wheeling Steel Corp. v. Glander, 337 U. S. 562, 571-572. See Reserve Life Ins. Co. v. Bowers, 380 U. S. 258; Hanover Fire Ins. Co. v. Harding, 272 U. S. 494; Southern R. Co. v. Greene, 216 U. S. 400." (393 U. S., at 119-120.)

Whitus v. Georgia - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Whitus v. Georgia, 385 U.S. 545 (1967) the jury commissioners made up the jury list from which both traverse and grand jurors were selected by reference to the tax digest, which was segregated into sections-one with white sheets for white people and the other with yellow sheets for Negroes-and to an old jury list required by former law to be made up from the tax digest.

The Supreme Court concluded that "under such a system the opportunity for discrimination was present," and on the record before us we could not say that that opportunity "was not resorted to by the commissioners." 385 U.S., at 552.

West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), there was a governmental purpose of requiring expression of a view in order to encourage adoption of that view, much the same as when a school teacher requires a student to write a message of self-correction on the blackboard one hundred times.

Mr. Justice Jackson, writing for the Court in Barnette, did not view the issue as turning merely "on one's possession of particular religious views or the sincerity with which they are held." 319 U.S., at 634. The holding of Barnette was that, no matter how strong or weak such beliefs might be, the Legislature of West Virginia was not free to require as concrete and intimate an expression of belief in any cause as that involved in a compulsory pledge of allegiance.

Welton v. Missouri - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Welton v. Missouri, 91 U.S. 275 (1875), the point decided was that a state statute, requiring the payment of a license tax from persons selling, by going from place to place within the State for the purpose, goods not the growth or manufacture of the State, and not from persons so selling goods which were the growth or manufacture of the State, was unconstitutional and void, by reason of the discrimination; and in Machine Co. v. Gage, 100 U.S. 676 (1879), a state statute imposing a like tax, without discriminating as to the place of growth or produce of material or manufacture, was adjudged to be constitutional and valid, as applied to machines made in and brought from another State.

Walling v. Michigan - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Walling v. Michigan, 116 U.S. 446 (1886), the statute of Michigan, which was held to be an unconstitutional restraint of interstate commerce, imposed a different tax upon persons engaged within the State in the business of selling or soliciting the sale of intoxicating liquors to be sent into the State, from that imposed upon persons selling or soliciting the sale of such liquors manufactured within the State; and the court declared that the statute would be perfectly justified as "an exercise by the legislature of Michigan of the police power of the State for the discouragement of the use of intoxicating liquors, and the preservation of the health and morals of the people," "if it did not discriminate against the citizens and products of other States in a matter of commerce between the States, and thus usurp one of the prerogatives of the national legislature." 116 U.S. 460.

Walling v. Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Co - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Walling v. Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Co., 331 U.S. 17, 67 S.Ct. 1056, 91 L.Ed. 1312 (1947), the Court noted that the guarantee was exceeded 'in about 20 per cent of the workweeks,' but there is nothing to warrant a conclusion that the Court had established the requirement that there be a relationship between the number of hours for which pay is guaranteed and the number of hours customarily worked.

Walling v. A. H. Belo Corporation - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Walling v. A. H. Belo Corporation, 316 U.S. 624, 62 S.Ct. 1223, 86 L.Ed. 1716 (1942), the Court adverted to the fact that the employees, on occasion, exceeded the guarantee period and that in such weeks they received more than the guaranteed wage, but no weight was accorded that fact, and no attention was paid to the number of workweeks in which the guarantee was exceeded.

Walker v. Armco Steel Corp - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Walker v. Armco Steel Corp., 446 U.S. 740, 749, 100 S.Ct. 1978, 1984, 64 L.Ed.2d 659 (1980), the Supreme Court upheld the application of Oklahoma's tolling statute, which required actual service of process, in lieu of Fed.R.Civ.P. 3, which provided that a civil action could be commenced by filing a complaint with the court. See Armco Steel, 446 U.S. at 742-44, 100 S.Ct. at 1981-82.

The Court noted the state's policy interest in enforcing its statute of limitations and in deferring tolling until a defendant had actual notice of a suit. See id. at 751, 100 S.Ct. at 1985.

On this basis, the Court reasoned that the Oklahoma statute was a "statement of a substantive decision by that state," forming an " 'integral' part of the several policies served by the statute of limitations." Id. at 751-52, 100 S.Ct. at 1985-86.

The Court concluded that "federal Rule 3 does not replace such policy determinations," but, rather, exists "side by side" with the state statute, "each controlling its own intended sphere of coverage without conflict." Id. at 752, 100 S.Ct. at 1986.

Virginia v. American Booksellers Ass'n - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Virginia v. American Booksellers Ass'n, 484 U.S. 383, 108 S.Ct. 636, 98 L.Ed.2d 782 (1988), the Supreme Court held that then-operating booksellers could assert the first amendment rights of their patrons against threatened enforcement of a statute infringing those rights. Id. at 392-93, 108 S.Ct. at 642-43.

Striking the challenged statute in that case would immediately free the booksellers' patrons to exercise their first amendment rights. See id.

Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., 429 U.S. 252 (1977), a non-profit housing developer and several of its potential low and moderate income tenants brought suit alleging that the city's failure to re-zone a 15-acre parcel from single family to multiple family classification constituted illegal housing discrimination under the Fourteenth Amendment and the Fair Housing Act.

After dismissing plaintiffs' equal protection claims based on the lower courts' conclusion that the zoning board had not acted with a discriminatory purpose, id. at 270-271, the Court remanded the case to the Seventh Circuit for consideration of plaintiffs' disparate impact claims under Title VIII, id. at 271.

In Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Dev. Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 270-71, 97 S.Ct. 555, 566, 50 L.Ed.2d 450 (1977), the Supreme Court articulated some of the "other evidence" in addition to disproportionate impact that can establish discriminatory intent.

Such evidence includes "the historical background of the decision ... particularly if it reveals a series of official actions taken for invidious purposes," irregularities in the passage of legislation such as "departures from normal procedural sequence," and "legislative or administrative history" such as "contemporary statements by members of the decisionmaking body, minutes of its meetings, or reports." 429 U.S. at 266-67, 97 S.Ct. at 563-64.

Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646 , 648, 650, 664-65 (1995) the Court rejected a Fourth Amendment challenge to a school district’s policy of conducting random urinalysis drug testing on student athletes, which required those students to urinate under teacher supervision.

In doing so, it noted that T.L.O. emphasized that “the State’s power over schoolchildren” is “custodial and tutelary, permitting a degree of supervision and control that could not be exercised over free adults.” Id. at 655.

In Acton, the school’s role as a “guardian and tutor” was the “most significant element” in the Court’s decision. Id. at 665. Considering the government’s interest in “deterring drug use by our Nation’s schoolchildren,” the Court opined that “the nature of the concern is important-indeed, perhaps compelling-which can hardly be doubted.” Id. at 661.

Students are the most susceptible to the physical, psychological, and addictive effects of drugs, id., and “of course the effects of a drug-infested school are visited not just upon the users, but upon the entire student body and faculty, as the educational process is disrupted,” id. at 662.

Acknowledging that there was a less intrusive means of deterring drug abuse-“ ‘drug testing on suspicion of drug use’ ”-Acton reiterated that there is no “least intrusive” requirement under the Fourth Amendment. Id. at 663.

The suspicion-of-drug-use requirement was undesirable because it would “add to the ever-expanding diversionary duties of schoolteachers the new function of spotting and bringing to account drug abuse, a task for which they are ill prepared, and which is not readily compatible with their vocation.” Id. at 664. In Acton, the Court went further and approved random urinalysis of student athletes because, in part, “school sports are not for the bashful” and “there is an element of communal undress inherent in athletic participation.” Acton, 515 U.S. at 657.

Verizon Commcn's Inc. v. Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko, LLP - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Verizon Commcn's Inc. v. Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko, LLP, 540 U.S. 398, 407, 124 S.Ct. 872, 157 L.Ed.2d 823 (2004), the Court considered whether plaintiffs stated a claim under § 2 of the Sherman Act by alleging that the defendant did not honor a statutory duty to give competitors access to its telecommunications network on "just, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory" terms. Id. at 401, 405-06, 124 S.Ct. 872.

The Court held that they did not. First, the Court observed, the complaint did not allege that the defendant engaged in a voluntary course of dealing with its rivals, or would have done so absent statutory compulsion. Id. at 409, 124 S.Ct. 872.

Second, said the Court, the defendant would not have publicly marketed the allegedly withheld services absent a statutory duty to do so. Id. at 410, 124 S.Ct. 872.

U.S. Postal Serv. Bd. of Governors v. Aikens - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In U.S. Postal Serv. Bd. of Governors v. Aikens, 460 U.S. 711, 103 S.Ct. 1478, 75 L.Ed.2d 403 (1983), the Court, in reviewing a judgment following a full trial on a Title VII claim of racial discrimination in the failure to promote, expressed surprise that the parties were still addressing whether the plaintiff had made out a prima facie case. Id. at 714, 103 S.Ct. at 1481.

By framing the issue in those terms, the Court was of the view that the parties "unnecessarily evaded the ultimate question of discrimination vel non." Id.

The Court observed that once the defendant "has done everything that would be required of him if the plaintiff had properly made out a prima facie case, whether the plaintiff really did so is no longer relevant" because "the district court has before it all the evidence it needs to decide whether `the defendant intentionally discriminated against the plaintiff.'" Id. at 715, 103 S.Ct. at 1481.

Accordingly, because the defendant in Aikens offered evidence to explain why the plaintiff was not promoted, the Court instructed that at the close of all the evidence, the district court should have directly addressed whether the employer had discriminated against Aikens because of his race. Id, in Aikens it was undisputed that the plaintiff was a member of a protected class (racial minority) and had applied for promotions for which he was at least minimally qualified and for which the defendant-employer had selected a non-minority applicant. Id. at 713, 103 S.Ct. at 1480-81.

U.S. Bulk Carriers, Inc. v. Arguelles - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In U.S. Bulk Carriers, Inc. v. Arguelles, 400 U.S. 351, 91 S.Ct. 409, 27 L.Ed.2d 456 (1971), a seaman sued in federal court for wages, despite the arbitration provision in the collective bargaining agreement governing his employment.

At issue in Arguelles was to what extent, if any, the enforcement mechanism of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA") required the plaintiff-seaman to submit his statutory claim for wages to arbitration as provided in his collective bargaining agreement.

Citing the longstanding history of the right of seamen to bring claims in federal court, the Supreme Court held that, in the absence of any suggestion in the LMRA that it was intended to supercede the right of individual seamen to sue in federal court for wages, it did not apply to the claims in that case.

U.S. Bancorp Mortgage Co. v. Bonner Mall Partnership - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In U.S. Bancorp Mortgage Co. v. Bonner Mall Partnership, U.S. 115 S.Ct. 386, 130 L.Ed.2d 233 (1994), the Court held that "where mootness results from settlement ..., the losing party has voluntarily forfeited his legal remedy by the ordinary processes of appeal or certiorari, thereby surrendering his claim to the equitable remedy of vacatur. The judgment is not unreviewable, but simply unreviewed by his own choice." Id. at 115 S.Ct. at 392.

United Steelworkers of America v. American Manufacturing Co - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In United Steelworkers v. American Mfg. Co., 363 U.S. 564, 80 S.Ct. 1343 (1960), an employee left work due to an injury and while off work brought an action for compensation benefits. The case was settled, with the employee's physician expressing the opinion that the employee was 25% "permanently partially disabled."

The union later filed a grievance that charged that the employee was entitled to return to his job because of the seniority provision of the collective-bargaining agreement. The company refused to arbitrate and the union sought to compel arbitration.

The company argued, inter alia, that this type of dispute was not arbitrable under the collective-bargaining agreement.

In stark contrast to the instant case, the collective-bargaining agreement in American Mfg. Co. contained a "standard form" arbitration clause that provided for arbitration of "all disputes between the parties 'as to the meaning, interpretation and application of the provisions of this agreement.' " Id. at 565, 80 S.Ct. at 1345. The agreement also contained a provision that the company would employ and promote employees on the principle of seniority. Id. at 565-66, 80 S.Ct. at 1345-46.

The Court reasoned that:

The function of the court is very limited when the parties have agreed to submit all questions of contract interpretation to the arbitration. It is confined to ascertaining whether the party seeking arbitration is making a claim which on its face is governed by the contract. Id. at 567-68, 80 S.Ct. at 1346.

In considering the arbitrability issue, the Supreme Court observed that the union claimed that the company had violated a specific provision of the contract, whereas the company maintained it had not violated the clause. Id. at 569, 80 S.Ct. at 1347.

The Court concluded that there was, therefore, a dispute between the parties as to "the meaning, interpretation and application" of the agreement. Arbitration should have been ordered. When the judiciary undertakes to determine the merits of a grievance under the guise of interpreting the grievance procedure of collective bargaining agreements, it usurps a function which under that regime is entrusted to the arbitration tribunal. Id.

In United Steelworkers of America v. American Manufacturing Co., 363 U.S. 564, 568, 80 S.Ct. 1343, 1346, 4 L.Ed.2d 1403 (1960), the Supreme Court ordered arbitration of a clause characterized as "frivolous" and "patently baseless" by the appellate court below.

The Court stated unequivocally that even if a claim appears "frivolous" on the merits, a court should require arbitration. 363 U.S. at 568 & n. 6, 80 S.Ct. at 1346 & n. 6.

United States v. Trenton Potteries Co - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In United States v. Trenton Potteries Co., 273 U.S. 392 (1927), defendants, who controlled 82 per cent of the business of manufacturing and distributing vitreous pottery in the United States, had combined to fix prices. It was found that they had the power to do this and had exerted it.

The defense that the prices were reasonable was overruled, as the court held that the power to fix prices involved "power to control the market and to fix arbitrary and unreasonable prices," and that in such a case the difference between legal and illegal conduct could not "depend upon so uncertain a test" as whether the prices actually fixed were reasonable, - a determination which could "be satisfactorily made only after a complete survey of our economic organization and a choice between rival philosophies." See United States v. Cohen Grocery Co., 255 U.S. 81 (1921).

United States v. Storer Broadcasting Company - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In United States v. Storer Broadcasting Company, 351 U.S. 192, 76 S.Ct. 763, 100 L.Ed. 1081 (1956) following a rulemaking proceeding under the authority of 47 U.S.C. section 303(r), the Commission issued rules providing that in passing upon applications for television broadcasting licenses it would consider it to be contrary to public interest, convenience, or necessity for any party to have an interest in more than five television stations.

Storer Broadcasting Company had five such stations. On the day the rules were adopted, a pending application by Storer for an additional station was dismissed on the basis of the rule.

Storer argued that by the express terms of section 309 its application could not be rejected without a "full hearing."

The Supreme Court held, however, that the Act must be read as a whole, that section 309 did not withdraw the Commission's rulemaking power under section 303(r), that in the exercise of that power the Commission could announce in advance its attitude regarding concentration of control as it related to the public interest, and that unless an application set forth reasons sufficient to justify a change or waiver of the rule, section 309 did not require a hearing. 351 U.S. at 202-205, 76 S.Ct. 763.

United States v. Stevens - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In United States v. Stevens, U.S. 130 S.Ct. 1577, 1584, 176 L.Ed.2d 435 (2010) , the Court addressed a statute establishing a criminal penalty for anyone who knowingly "created, sold, or possessed a depiction of animal cruelty," where a "depiction of animal cruelty" was defined as one "in which a living animal is intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed." 130 S.Ct. at 1582; 18 U.S.C. § 48(a), (c)(1).

In holding that the statute was unconstitutionally overbroad, the Court "read § 48 to create a criminal prohibition of alarming breadth," emphasizing that the language of the statute would sweep in the "enormous national market for hunting-related depictions in which a living animal is intentionally killed," and that "those seeking to comply with the law would face a bewildering maze of regulations from at least 56 separate jurisdictions." Stevens, 130 S.Ct. at 1588-89.

United States v. Sherman - Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In United States v. Sherman, 98 U.S. 565 (1878), the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of South Carolina had certified that there was probable cause for an act done by an officer of the United States, for which judgment had been recovered against him in that court; and consequently, by express acts of Congress, "the amount so recovered" was to "be provided for and paid out of the proper appropriation from the treasury." Acts of March 3, 1863, c. 76, § 12, 12 Stat. 741; July 28, 1866, c. 298, § 8, 14 Stat. 329.

The Supreme Court held that the judgment creditor was entitled to receive from the United States the amount of the judgment only, without interest; and Mr. Justice Strong, in delivering the opinion, said:

"When the certificate is given, the claim of the plaintiff in the suit is practically converted into a claim against the government; but not until then. Before that time, the government is under no obligation, and the Secretary of the Treasury is not at liberty to pay. When the obligation arises, it is an obligation to pay the amount recovered; that is, the amount for which judgment has been given. The act of Congress says not a word about interest. Judgments, it is true, are by the law of South Carolina, as well as by Federal legislation, declared to bear interest. Such legislation, however, has no application to the government; and the interest is no part of the amount recovered. It accrues only after the recovery has been had. Moreover, whenever interest is allowed either by statute or by common law, except in cases where there has been a contract to pay interest, it is allowed for delay or default of the debtor. But delay or default cannot be attributed to the government. It is presumed to be always ready to pay what it owes." (98 U.S. 567, 568.)

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