Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Coming Up In the U.S. Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in three cases tomorrow, including an Establishment Clause case which has attracted 30 amicus briefs.

Over 70 years ago the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) placed a cross as a memorial to fallen World War I service members in what is now the Mojave National Preserve in southern California. After a United States District Court ruled that the presence of the cross on federal land violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, Congress passed a law directing the Secretary of the Interior to transfer an acre of land including the cross to the VFW in exchange for a parcel of equal value. The District Court enjoined the implementation of the law, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed.

In Salazar v. Buono the Court will consider whether the individual who brought suit (a National Park Service employee) has standing to challenge the land transfer law, and if so, whether the transfer of public land to a private party is a constitutionally effective way for government to avoid a violation of the Establishment Clause.

In Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick the Court will address the power of United States District Courts to approve settlements of copyright infringement suits, and in Union Pacific Railroad v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers the Court will consider whether the National Railroad Adjustment Board's retroactive adoption of a "new rule" to deny an employee grievance violated due process of law.

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