Affirmative Action to Warrantless Wiretapping: The Upcoming Supreme Court Term

Monday, October 01, 2012

A person carries an American flag while marching in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Getty) A person carries an American flag while marching in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. (Getty)

Today, just a few months after the Supreme Court announced its decision on the Affordable Care Act, perhaps the most important opinion in decades, the Court begins its 2012-2013 term. While the Court has announced only half of the cases it will hear over the next nine months, Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George Washington University, explains that the Justices already have a number of contentious issues on the calendar.

The Court begins its new term with Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., a case that will decide whether American corporations, foreign governments, and individuals can be held responsible for torture and violence under the Alien Tort Statute.

Most court-watchers are looking forward to the arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the affirmative action case that Jeffrey Rosen says may overturn the Court's 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger. In Grutter, the Court decided that public universities could continue to use applicants' race and ethnicity as criteria for admission. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote, "The Court expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today." Only nine years have passed since the Grutter decision, but the Justices may rule affirmative action unconstitutional.

The Court will also hear arguments in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, a case involving the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Acts which allow for warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, and two cases on defendants' right to effective counsel.

The Court has yet to announce whether it will take cases on constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the law that requires Southern states with a history of discrimination to seek federal approval before changing their election laws. And while Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made headlines for telling a group of Colorado law students that the Court would likely rule on the Defense of Marriage Act this term, the Justices have yet to announce whether they will take a Defense of Marriage Act case.


Jeffrey Rosen

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger

Comments [2]


Scott Brown's attacks on Elizabeth Warren, alleging that she lied about her heritage for career advantages is actually -- as his most vociferous suports reveal -- about Affirmative Action, which his supporters (who've never been near a college, never intend to attend college, and will never be affected by Affirmative Action) insist is racist.

More pointedly, they are attempting to communicate their theory that Affirmative Action is abused, as yet another attack on it.

And with this SC, one should worry about the Voting Rights Act, which the same segregationists have also been attacking from before the ink was dry.

Those racists took their time and managed to shape the SC in the direct they want: overturning all civil rights laws which protect minorities from the abuses of white males.

Oct. 02 2012 01:07 AM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Suing Corporations abroad for abuse towards workers seems like a difficult case for The Supreme Court. I am super curious about the ruling and its implications...Who is defending these Corporations?

Oct. 01 2012 11:48 AM

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