October 8, 2015

Supreme Court Term in Review

The Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School recently completed its review of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014-2015 term.The review notes that there were only 16 unanimous decisions, and half of the cases had a majority of either six or five Justices.

In addition to high profiles cases (such as the Obergefell v. Hodges same-sex marriage decision or King v. Burwell decision on tax credits under the Affordable Care Act), the review highlights several lesser-known decisions on a broad range of topics.

For example, in Holt v. Hobbs, the court held that the Arkansas Department of Correction’s grooming policy violated federal law by preventing a Muslim inmate from growing a ½ inch beard as required by his religious beliefs.

For another example, Ohio v. Clark concerned the Sixth’s Amendment confrontation clause.  Specifically, a criminal defendant accused of abusing a child challenged the admissibility of the child’s statements made to his teachers, on the grounds that the child was not available for cross-examination. The court held that the statements were not testimonial in nature, and therefore were admissible, “[b]ecause neither the child nor his teachers had the primary purpose of assisting in Clark’s prosecution.”