This week marked the end of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2018–2019 term, and, as is typical for this last week, the Court issued some highly anticipated (and some highly divisive) decisions.
United States Supreme Court Rules That Lanham Act’s Prohibition on Registration of Immoral or Scandalous Trademarks Violates the First Amendment
On Monday, June 24, 2019, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Iancu v. Brunetti, 588 U.S. ___ (2019), holding that the Lanham Act's bar on registration of immoral or scandalous trademarks violates the First Amendment. At issue in the case is the trademark FUCT, pronounced as four letters, which is the clothing brand founded by Erik Brunetti. Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the majority, wrote that the Lanham Act's bar on immoral or scandalous trademarks is viewpoint-based discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.
iPhone Users to Proceed With Lawsuit Against Apple, Inc. for Alleged Monopolization of the App Market
On Monday, May 13, 2019, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Apple, Inc. v. Pepper, 587 U.S. __ (2019). Four iPhone users sued Apple, Inc., alleging that the company monopolized the app market, which resulted in higher-than-competitive prices for apps. Apple argued that the consumer-plaintiffs were barred from suing Apple since the consumer-plaintiffs were not "direct purchasers" from Apple, as defined in Illinois Brick Co. v. Illinois, 431 U.S. 720, 745-746 (1977). The District Court agreed with Apple, while the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and concluded that the consumer-plaintiffs were direct purchasers because they purchased the apps directly from Apple.
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court, along with judges in a dozen or so other states, has been considering issues of gerrymandering. The courts have primarily questioned whether mapmakers have gone too far by manipulating legislative district boundaries for the advantage of a preferred political party.
US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is (in)famous for remaining silent during oral arguments, but last week during the oral argument of Flowers v. Mississippi, he broke his silence to ask a question. The case presents a question about whether a Mississippi prosecutor engaged in unlawful exclusion of jurors on the basis of race in the series of trials of Curtis Flowers, who was charged with several murders.
The US Supreme Court issued three decisions this week. In the first, Moore v. Texas, the Court reversed the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on a death penalty case that had already come before the Court once, during its 2016 term. This time, the Court made its decision without oral argument. In a per curiam (unsigned) opinion, the Court held that the Texas court's redetermination that the defendant in that case does not have an intellectual disability and is thus eligible for the death penalty is inconsistent with with the Court's earlier decision in the same case.
United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas Calls for Return to Originalism in First Amendment Jurisprudence
On Tuesday, February 19, 2019, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari in Katherine Mae McKee v. William H. Cosby, Jr., 586 U.S. ___ (2019), a lawsuit concerning Katherine McKee's claim against Bill Cosby for defamation where Cosby's lawyers released a letter allegedly damaging McKee's reputation for truthfulness and honesty. The First Circuit found McKee became a limited-purpose public figure when she made sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby and, as such, would need to prove that the statements in the letter were both false and made with actual malice. United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, writing a concurring opinion in the Supreme Court's denial of certiorari, called for a reconsideration of the doctrinal basis for First Amendment cases concerning defamation and libel.
United States Supreme Court to Hear Case Challenging Wisconsin Law Permitting Warrantless Blood Draws From Unconscious Drunken Driving Suspects
On Friday, January 11, 2019, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Gerald P. Mitchell v. State of Wisconsin (Docket No. 18-6210). The case questions whether a civil implied-consent statute in Wisconsin, permitting police officers to draw the blood of an unconscious driver, without consent, is constitutional.
In an order issued today, the US Supreme Court has granted the Trump administration's request to stay orders in two cases filed in federal district courts within the 9th Circuit to block the administration's policy banning most transgender people from serving in the military from going into effect. The Court's decision permits the ban to be temporarily implemented while the cases progress through the appeals process and any Supreme Court review. The Court denied the Trump administration's request to bypass the appellate process completely, but provides a preview of how the Court will likely rule if it hears these cases on the merits.