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Notable Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court,
2006–2007 Term

  • Supreme Court Rules Against Considering Race to Integrate Schools: Bitterly divided court rules, 5–4, that programs in Seattle and Louisville, Ky., that tried to maintain diversity in schools by considering race when assigning students to schools are unconstitutional.
  • Court Upholds Ban on Abortion Procedure: The ruling, 5–4, which upholds the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, a federal law passed in 2003, is the first to ban a specific type of abortion procedure. Writing in the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, "The act expresses respect for the dignity of human life." Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who dissents, called the decision "alarming" and said it is "so at odds with our jurisprudence" that it "should not have staying power."
  • Court Curbs Punitive Damages in Philip Morris Case: Judges rule, 5–4, to overturn a $79.5 million award against the cigarette maker, saying that the intent of the jury that awarded the money to a smoker's widow may have been to punish the company for hurting others.
  • Ruling Makes Fraud Lawsuits More Difficult for Investors: Court rules, 8–1, that shareholders must show "compelling" evidence of intent to defraud when sued for securities fraud or unlawful manipulation by investors.
  • Court Denies Patent Protection to Obvious Inventions: Judges unanimously decide that patents issued for "obvious" inventions may have been improperly issued, and thus would be undeserving of patent protection.
  • Court Rules Government Can Regulate Emissions: Court rules, 5-4, that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate automobile emissions of heat-trapping gases and that the agency cannot shun its responsibility to do so unless it provides a scientific reason.
  • Court Agrees to Hear Appeals by Guantánamo Bay Detainees: In a striking reversal of an April decision, the Supreme Court announces it will hear appeals by detainees who have been denied access to federal courts.
  • Court Reverses Precedent on "Unique Circumstances" Excuse: Court determines that a lawyer who was given the wrong date by a federal judge and thus missed a deadline for filing a federal appeal should not be excused for missing the deadline.
  • Court Denies Taxpayers Right to Challenge Federal Spending: The court rules, 5–4, that taxpayers do not have the standing to challenge federal money spent on the Bush administration's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
  • Parents Granted Rights Under Disabilities Education Act: Court rules, 7-2, that the parents of children with disabilities can challenge a school's plan for their child in court, without a lawyer.
  • Court Overturns Delusional Murderer's Death Sentence: Court rules, 5–4, that a mentally ill murderer should not be executed because he lacked rational understanding of why he was sentenced.
  • Court Grants Rights to Passengers in Cars Stopped by Police: Court rules unanimously that passengers in a car stopped by the police have the right to challenge the validity of the stop because they are, like the driver, effectively "seized" and unable to leave the scene.
  • Court Upholds Right of Police to Cause Car Accident: In an, 8–1, decision, the court determined that a driver who was forced off the road by police after a high speed chase did not have his rights violated.
  • Prosecutors Given More Freedom to Remove Ambivalent Jurors: A 5–4 decision by the court makes it easier for prosecutors to pull jurors who express reservations about the death penalty during such cases.
  • Court Supports Schools' Right to Censor Student Speech If It Advocates Drug Use: Court rules, 6–3, that a principal who suspended a student for holding up a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner did not violate the student's right to free speech.


Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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