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Texas Lobby Group News: Cases Await Judgement in United States Supreme Court 2012 to 2013 Term

We commend to you the overview of cases before the Supreme Court found at CNN.com. The Texas Lobby Group is posting this quick digest as a public service for Texas lobbyists and lobbying firms, Texas politicians and political advisors, and other interested parties.

The following text is taken from the CNN website. We are quoting them and encourage you to visit the site for the complete text. Click here to read the complete summary at CNN.com


Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

Abigail Fisher sued the state university after her college application was rejected in 2008 when she was a high school senior in Sugar Land, Texas. Fisher claims being turned away in part because she is white. The school defends its policy of considering race as one of many factors.


Clapper v. Amnesty International USA

Congress revised the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 2008 to give the attorney general and the director of national intelligence greater authority to order “mass acquisition” of electronic traffic from suspected foreign terrorists or spies.

The larger issue involves the constitutionality of the federal government’s electronic monitoring of targeted foreigners. A federal appeals court ruled against the Obama administration.


More than a dozen individuals seek to hold major oil companies liable for human rights violations in Nigeria in the 1990s. The 223-year-old Alien Tort Statute that has been increasingly used in recent years to sue corporations and political groups for alleged abuses abroad. The plaintiffs allege the oil giants conspired with the government to stop protests over petroleum exploration, using killings, rape, arrests, and property destruction. Shell has denied giving soldiers any money, supplies, or logistical help.


Defense of Marriage Act: Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives v. Gill; Dept. of Health and Human Services v. Massachusetts; Office of Personnel Management v. Golinski; Windsor v. U.S.

These cases may be added to the Supreme Court docket in coming months.

Appeals from Massachusetts, New York, California, and elsewhere are pending. The law known as DOMA defines marriage for federal purposes as unions exclusively between a man and woman. The legal issue is whether the federal government can deny tax, health, and pension benefits to same-sex couples in states where they can legally marry.

The First Circuit court did not rule on the federal law’s other key provision: states that do not allow same-sex marriages cannot be forced to recognize such unions performed in other states. Traditionally, marriages in one jurisdiction are considered valid across the country.

California ballot measure: Hollingsworth v. Perry

This case may be added to the Supreme Court docket in coming months.

The “Prop 8” case, as it has become known, has been down a complicated legal road. California’s Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriages were legal in 2008. After the statewide ballot measure banning them passed with 52% of the vote later that year, gay and lesbian marriages were put on hold. Then a federal appeals court in San Francisco in February ruled the measure unconstitutional. In its split decision, the panel found Proposition 8 “works a meaningful harm to gays and lesbians” by denying their right to civil marriage.


Shelby County, AL v. Holder; Nix v. Holder

These cases may be added to the Supreme Court docket in coming months.

Section 5 gives federal authorities open-ended oversight of states and localities with a history of voter discrimination. Any changes in voting laws and procedures in the covered states must be “pre-cleared” with Washington.

The provision was reauthorized in 2006 for another quarter-century, and counties in Alabama and North Carolina subsequently filed suit, saying the monitoring was overly burdensome and unwarranted. All or parts of 16 states are currently covered under the provision. Other states are not covered by the provision even if they, too, might discriminate against minority voters.


Oklahoma v. Barber

Initiative Petition 395 is a proposed ballot measure to amend the state constitution, but was unanimously struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The state justices said the measure, if approved, would unconstitutionally ban access to abortions, and concluded that defining a fertilized human egg as a person “is clearly unconstitutional.”

Supporters of the measure say voters should be given the right to decide a critical issue like defining life, and said it was unfair for the courts to block the law before it was enacted. Opponents counter it would essentially block abortions even in case of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life was in danger. They also say it would severely restrict use of contraception and in vitro fertilization.