4th Amendment cell phone search cases headed to the SC? Yes, please.

Who doesn’t love a good albeit tricky 4th Amendment search-and-seizure case?  Certainly not us.  We’re still reeling after the U.S. v. Jones (GPS) case and starved for another.  This great introspective from Jeff Wilty at the UNC School of Government highlights two cases that, if granted certiorari, would have the SC answering questions about whether evidence gained from police searches of cellular phones violates the 4th Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures.

Here’s a snapshot of a case out of Boston (U.S. v. Wurie):

“A Boston officer arrested the defendant for a hand-to-hand drug sale. Shortly after the arrest, officers opened the defendant’s cell phone and reviewed the call log. They noted a phone number in the call log was listed as “my house,” and used an online directory to match the phone number with a physical address. That led the officers to search the residence, where they found drugs and a gun. The defendant was charged in federal court with drug and firearms offenses and moved to suppress, arguing that the officers were not entitled to search his cell phone incident to his arrest, and that the search of the residence was the fruit of that poisonous tree. The district court judge denied the motion, the defendant was convicted, and he appealed.”

Wurie filed a petition for certiorari on August 15.  Wilty’s going to stay tuned, and so are we.  In the mean time, read that latest “breaking” news about Justice Kagan’s hunting trip with Justice Scalia here. [Let’s get this term started already.  Am I right?!]

The application of Fisher proves challenging for universities

If you’re like us and wondered just how universities were supposed to apply the decision in the affirmative action case Fisher v. the University of Texas-Austinthis is one of the first stories, from a university, demonstrating the challenges placed upon admissions offices.   Using race as one of several factors only if it serves a “compelling government interest”, and not before race-neutral admissions practices were tried first, is the standard expected of public universities post Fisher.  But proving the former was legally necessary and due diligence was done in achieving the latter is a challenge risk-averse public institutions like colleges seem wary of experimenting with to find that so-called “sweet spot.”  Time and undoubtedly future litigation will likely reveal where that middle ground is (As if it’ll be a one-size-fits-all ground that could apply to all colleges in the nation) or, the SC will have to eventually be forced to articulate it.  Stay tuned.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren assail’s “pro-corporate” SC

In a scathing speech given at the AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) derides the current U.S. Supreme Court as being right-leaning and pro-corporation.  According to an article from Politico, Warren’s anger derives from the number of times the SC has consistently voted in favor of businesses, corporations, and the Chamber of Commerce.

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“’You follow this pro-corporate trend to its logical conclusion, and sooner or later you’ll end up with a Supreme Court that functions as a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Business,’ Warren said, drawing murmurs from the crowd.”

Read the article here: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/elizabeth-warren-supreme-court-far-right-96449.html#ixzz2eRoUtKMu

Court Watch: Restricting free and open access to the internet (Verizon v. the FCC)

Another case to keep an eye on involves open access to the internet.   The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will hear oral arguments in Verizon v. FCC, a case about net neutrality.  “The U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality regulations, also known as open Internet rules, face a hearing on Monday. Verizon Communications has challenged the FCC’s authority to pass the rules.”  A brief history of net neutrality and similar legal issues from PC World is here.  Predictions on how this case will be decided based on a U.S. Supreme Court precedent from this spring (Arlington v. FCC) are here in a NY Times article.

Lower court watch: Are mandatory Pledge of Allegiance laws in MA constitutional?

Lower Court Watch:

We at SupremeBystandr like to keep our eyes on the lower courts to predict what might end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.    Here’s one to watch – The Massachusetts Supreme Court just agreed to hear a case from an atheist couple who argue public schools’ mandatory practice of saying the Pledge of Allegiance violates students’ rights.  Keep an eye on the case, known as Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District.