Legal Briefs and Resources

This area of our website is devoted to legal briefs we find of interest and hope you will too!

1. Gun Control Law Upheld - Supreme Court / Recent Decisions

On June 27, 2016, The Supreme Court upheld a federal law banning individuals convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. The case involved two men from Maine who argued their guilty pleas in domestic violence cases should not disqualify them from owning a firearm. In one of the instances, the man pleaded guilty in 2003 to simple assault for slapping his girlfriend in the face. Six years later, it was reported he shot a bald eagle and the man was convicted under the gun law. In the second case, the individual pleaded guilty to simple assault in 2002 and was convicted 8 years later under the gun law when it was discovered that the man had 6 firearms and ammunition in his home.

2. Texas Abortion Law's Restrictions Deemed Unconstitutional

On June 27, 2016, in a 5 - 3 decision, the US Supreme Court struck down a Texas law importing one of the Country’s strictest restrictions on abortion. The law specified that clinics providing abortion services must meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and required all doctors at the clinics have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals. The Court deemed these restrictions place an unconstitutionally undue burden on those seeking pre-viability abortions.

3. What is an “Official Act”?

In McDonnell v. US, the Court vacated the convictions of the former governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, stating that the government’s definition of “official act” was overly broad. McDonnell had been convicted of using his political office to help a businessman who in turn showered McDonnell and his wife with expensive gifts. The gifts themselves were legal and the Court failed to find ample evidence that there was a reciprocal bargain whereby McDonnell improperly used the power of his office.

4. Executive Order Struck Down

In US v. Texas, the Court was tied 4 – 4 on the question as to whether the Obama administration was entitled to shield as many a 5 million unauthorized immigrants from deportation and allow them to work. Thus, the administration lost on this point.

5. Affirmative Action

Our 7 Justices decided the Fisher v. University of Texas case regarding affirmative action in college admissions. The Court decided that a race-conscious admission program used by the University of Texas did not violate equal protection principles enunciated in the constitution. This was a 4 – 3 decision.

6. Win for Organized Labor

In another 4 -4 decision, the law was upheld that public employees who chose not to join unions may still be required to pay “fair share” dues/fees to the Union. See, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Assoc.

7. Juvenile Justice

The decision was 6 -3 in Montgomery v. Louisiana determining that it’s 2012 decision banning life-without-parole sentences for juvenile killers must be applied retroactively. This decision means that hundreds of inmates now serving life sentences may have the possibility of parole for crimes committed in their youth.