On February 25, 2013, Democratic Perspective discussed the conservative lean of the Supreme Court of the United States and a few of the cases that will be heard this year by the Court.
First, we explained a few facts about the Court itself. The Court was established by the Constiturion. The document calls for each Justice to be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. That’s it. There’s nothing more. The Constitution provides no guidelines. It doesn’t list qualifications. It doesn’t even dictate the number of Justices (there are now nine).
Each year, the Court receives approximately 8,000 petitions (cases). If one of the justices selects a case, it’s discussed by the entire body of the Court and if four justices agree, it is placed on the docket.
There are four criteria which make can cause a case to be heard. 1 – Does the case raise a substantial federal question? 2 – Does the case represent a disagreement between Circuit Courts or between states? 3 – Has the case been brought forward by the US Solicitor General? 4 – Does the case transcend individuals, i.e. will the case affect other constituencies?
Some of the more interesting cases for this session are:
McCutcheon v Federal Elections Commission challenges the cap on how much a donor can give to candidates and party committees over a two-year election cycle. The cap is currently $123,200. Shaun McCutcheon is joined in the lawsuit by Republican National Committee.
Shelby County, AL v Holder challenges the 1965 Voting Rights Act which was re-approved in 2009 and reequires pre-clearance for any changes in voting within a covered jurisdiction.
Fisher v University of Texas challenges Affirmative Action with regard to admittance to the university. The complaintant claims she was not admitted despite having a record superior to some minority students who were admitted.
United States v Windsor and Hollingsworth v Perry are two cases wich involve the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The outcome of these cases will determine whether or not DOMA violates the 14th Amendment’s “equal protection” clause.
The last case featured is Maryland v King. The issue at stake centers on the right to privacy versus search and seizure. More specifically, can a criminal suspect be required to submit to providing a DNA sample? Also, can the state retain the DNA if the arrest doesn’t result in a conviction?
You can search individual cases at: http://www.supremecourt.gov/docket/docket.aspx