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Notable Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1999–2000 Term

  • Ban on Opening Police Records Upheld (Dec. 7, 1999): Justices, 7–2, approve California law barring commercial information services from access to data routinely made available to journalists and others.
  • States Protected from Lawsuits on Age Bias (Jan. 11, 2000): In 5–4 ruling, Court decides Congress has no authority to make state governments subject to federal law that prohibits discrimination against older workers.
  • Flight Upheld as Cause for Police Search (Jan. 12, 2000): Justices all agree that police can be justified in detaining person who bolts at sight of officers. Court splits, 5–4, however, on acceptable level of suspicion.
  • Citizens Backed on Environmental Suits (Jan. 12, 2000): In 7–2 decision, Court upholds provisions of Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and other laws that give private citizens authority to fine violators on behalf of national treasury.
  • Ban on State Data Sales Upheld (Jan. 12, 2000): Unanimous decision approves federal law preventing states from selling databases of personal information.
  • Ruling on Defendants' Rights (Jan. 13, 2000): Justices decide, 9–0, that criminal defendants do not have right to represent themselves while appealing their case.
  • Important Voting Rights Case Resolved (Jan. 24, 2000): Court rules, 5–4, that Justice Dept. must approve districting changes, even those with discriminatory intent, if minority voters will not be negatively impacted.
  • State Codes on Oil Tankers Limited (March 6, 2000): Court rules unanimously that states cannot set safety and environmental standards that conflict with or supplement federal regulations.
  • F.D.A. Power on Tobacco Denied (March 21, 2000): Justices rule unanimously that Congress had never given Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate industry's products.
  • Police Limited on Gun Searches (March 28, 2000): Court rules unanimously that an anonymous tip does not justify a stop-and-frisk action against a person.
  • Bans on Nude Dancing Upheld (March 29, 2000): Ruling, 6–3, says cities and states may restrict it as a step to combat crime and other negative secondary effects associated with such entertainment.
  • Retroactive Legislation Overruled (May 1, 2000): Justices, 5–4, overturn Texas sex-abuse conviction on ground that change in state law had made it easier for prosecution than it would have been at time of crime.
  • Women's Rights Law Overturned (May 15, 2000): In 5–4 decision, Court invalidates six-year-old provision of federal law that permits victims of rape, domestic violence, and other crimes to sue attackers in federal court. Justices declare “Constitution requires a distinction between what is truly national and what is truly local.”
  • Curb on Cable Sex Shows Overruled (May 22, 2000): Justices, 5–4, declare for first time that cable TV programming is entitled to highest level of First Amendment protection. Court struck down federal law requiring many systems to limit sexually explicitly channels to the late-night hours.
  • Grandparents Denied Visiting Rights (June 5, 2000): In 6–3 decision, Court overrules Washington State law permitting a judge to order rights for grandparents over a mother's objection. Justices declare parents have “fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control” of their children.
  • H.M.O.s Upheld in Lawsuits (June 12, 2000): Justices rule unanimously that financial incentives given doctors to hold down costs do not make health care organizations liable in federal court for violating a duty to put their patients first.
  • Ruling in Job Discrimination Case (June 12, 2000): Court holds unanimously that a plaintiff can prevail, even without direct evidence, by showing that an employer's innocent-sounding explanation of actions was a lie.
  • Public Student Prayers Forbidden (June 19, 2000): Court rules, 6–3, that prayers led by students at high school football games are no exception to earlier decisions against officially sponsored prayer in public schools. All prayers at school and games are declared unconstitutional.
  • Miranda Decision Reaffirmed (June 26, 2000): By 7–2 vote, justices rebuff move to overthrow requirement for warning to suspected criminals before police interrogation.
  • Boy Scouts Backed in Ban on Gays (June 28, 2000): Justices rule, 5–4, that Boy Scouts have a constitutional right because of organization's opposition to homosexuality as part of its “expressive message.”
  • Bar on Abortion Procedure Rejected (June 28, 2000): Court rules, 5–4, that government cannot prohibit “partial birth” operation when doctors believe it is most medically approved way to terminate some pregnancies.
  • Aid to Parochial Schools Upheld (June 28, 2000): By 6–3 vote, Court rules that federal program providing computers and other “instructional equipment” does not violate constitutional separation of church and state.

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