Friday, June 26, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court: What's Ahead

With yesterday's release of four opinions by the United States Supreme Court, three cases remain for decision in the Court's current Term. Those decisions presumably will be released on Monday.

The ruling with the most immediate political significance will be Ricci v. DeStefano. This is the case in which Judge Sonia Sotomayor sat on a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit which, in a brief opinion, upheld New Haven's decision not to certify a fire department promotion examination on the grounds the examination results had a disparate impact on racial minorities. The ruling will attract enormous public attention, and we can expect that Ricci will be Judge Sotomayor's most discussed decision at the Senate confirmation hearings which are scheduled to begin July 13.

The ruling relevant to the financial downturn will be Cuomo v. The Clearing House Association, in which the Court must decide whether the National Bank Act preempts state enforcement of state laws against national banks. The downturn has exposed deep flaws in the federal regulation of banks, and the question is to what extent, if any, will this affect the Court's determination of the preemption question.

Finally, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission the Court will decide whether a feature length documentary movie which was critical of presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton was an advertisement subject to federal electioneering regulations.

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