Friday, 26 July 2013

SCOTUSblog and Following Cases in the United States Supreme Court

For all those interested in the litigation before the United States Supreme Court, SCOTUSblog is a must. It provides up-to-date information on the cases the Court hears each judicial term, synopses of major cases decided, upcoming petitions, major pending petitions, recent decisions, statistical information, and a twitter feed to keep litigants, and those following the court, aware of court activity as it happens.

Academics, lawyers, and civil society experts comment on pending cases making their way through the state and federal courts to being granted “certiorari” by the Supreme Court. For example, in the case of Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc, in which the Supreme Court considered inter alia whether human genes could be patented, see the “Academic Round-up” by Amanda Frost, Professor of Law at American University, “Academic Highlight: Myriad Genetics and the history of intellectual property in the United States, June 11th, 2013, at  

SCOTUSblog is also a very useful source for those following cases who file amicus curiae briefs ("friend of the court") who are not the appellant or responded in a particular case, but have an interest in the proceedings and provide further information to the court to enable it to make fully informed judicial decisions.  

Some key decisions by the Supreme Court in 2013 have been:

Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc, Docket No. 12-398, June 13, 2013, in which Justice Thomas gave the 9-0 opinion of the court in that a naturally occurring DNA segment is a manifestation of nature and not therefore not patent eligible merely because it has been “isolated,” but that synthetic complementary DNA (“cDNA”) is patent eligible because it is not naturally occurring.  

United States v. Windsor, Docket No. 12-307, June 26, 2013, in which Justice Kennedy delivered a 5-4 majority judgment holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional as it deprives the equal liberty of persons under the 5th Amendment.

Shelby County v. Holder, Docket No. 12-96, June 25, 2013, in which Chief Justice Roberts delivered the 5-4 majority decision that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional and it cannot be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions preclearance.

Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, Docket Number 10-1491, in which Chief Justice Roberts delivered the 9-0 opinion of the court and held the presumption against the extraterritorial application of U.S. law applies to claims under the Alien Tort Statute, and the presumption is not rebutted.  

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