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Major Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1997–1998 Term

  • Banks Upheld Over Credit Unions (Feb. 25, 1998): Court voids federal regulation allowing millions to join credit unions as alternatives to banks.
  • Immunity for Local Officials Upheld (March 3, 1998): Justices rule unanimously that members of local and county governments have absolute exemption from suits for damages for legislative actions. Verdict confers same immunity already held by members of Congress and state and regional bodies.
  • Sex Harassment Claims in Workplace Widened (March 4, 1998): Court rules unanimously in important discrimination case that federal law protects employees from being harassed by members of the same sex.
  • “Gray Market” in U.S. Products Supported (March 9, 1998): Court holds unanimously that manufacturers cannot use copyright law to block domestic sale of goods they originally sold abroad at discounted prices.
  • Bankruptcy Law Protection Limited (March 24, 1998): Court rules unanimously that federal statute does not excuse obligation to pay damage judgments resulting from fraudulent action.
  • Justices Hear Disabilities Act Case (March 30, 1998): In a 5-4 split, the Court decided that the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 includes protection against discrimination for people infected with HIV, whether they show symptoms of the disease or not.
  • Right to Lie-Test Overruled (March 31, 1998): Justices, 8–1, rule that since polygraph results have not been scientifically approved, a criminal defendant has no constitutional right to present evidence at a trial of having passed such a test.
  • Paraguayan Executed in Virginia (April 14, 1998): Supreme Court denies clemency for Angel Francisco Breard, 32, for murder despite pleas from International Court of Justice and Paraguayan government.
  • Ruling Affects Grand Juries' Makeup (April 21, 1998): Justices decide, 9–0, that white criminal defendants can challenge indictments by grand juries from which black people have been excluded.
  • Environmental Agency Upheld in Suit (June 9, 1998): Court rules unanimously that a parent company can be held responsible for costs of cleaning up a subsidiary's toxic waste site if the parent company had unusual responsibility for operation of the site.
  • Use of Funds for Legal Services Questioned (June 15, 1998): Divided, 5–4, justices cast constitutional doubt on state programs that raise $100 million yearly on interest from funds deposited with lawyers by their clients and used to help the needy.
  • School Districts Get Harassment Shield (June 22, 1998): In a 5–4 ruling, highly restrictive standard is set for determining when they can be found liable for a teacher's sexual harassment of a student.
  • Line-Item Veto Outlawed (June 25, 1998): In a 6–3 decision, justices rule Constitution prohibits president from rewriting legislation by striking out single items of spending or specific tax breaks passed by Congress.
  • Decency Test in Arts Awards Upheld (June 25, 1998): By 8–1, justices uphold disputed provision of 1990 law that requires National Endowment for the Arts to take “general standards” into account in its awards.
  • Rules on Sexual Harassment Clarified (June 26, 1998): Two 7–2 decisions make some lawsuits easier to win, and provide employers with a new protection.

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Notable Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1998–1999 TermSupreme CourtMajor Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1996–97 Term

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