Notable Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, 2000–2001 Term

Updated June 18, 2019 | Infoplease Staff
  • Highway Checkpoints for Drugs (Nov. 28, 2000): Court, 6–3, finds highway checkpoints with the primary purpose of detecting illegal drugs violates Fourth Amendment's prohibition of suspicionless seizures.
  • Presidential Election (Dec. 12, 2000): Court reverses Florida Supreme Court decision ordering manual recount of ballots. Majority of justices (7–2) agree that recount violates Constitution's equal protection and due process guarantees, since counting standards varied among counties. Court remands case to Florida Supreme Court for remedy but, in 5-4 split, maintains that deadline for recount ends at midnight. Decision effectively ends presidential election.
  • Clean Water Act Limited (Jan. 9, 2001): Justices rule, 5–4, that law does not authorize federal government to regulate dredging and filling of isolated ponds and wetlands.
  • States Allowed to Hold Sex Offenders (Jan. 17, 2001): Justices, 8–1, overturn lower court verdict and rule that sexually violent predators can be confined in civil commitment centers upon release from prison.
  • Court Rules Against Disabled Workers (Feb. 21, 2001): Decides, 5–4, that state employees cannot seek damages under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Attack on Clean Air Act Rejected (Feb. 27, 2001): Justices rule unanimously against industry in important environmental decision. Court declares that Environmental Protection Agency may not consider implementation costs in setting air quality standards.
  • Fifth Amendment Right Upheld (March 19, 2001): Court rules unanimously that a witness does not lose his right to avoid self-incrimination by claiming to have had no involvement in a crime.
  • Ruling Upholds Employers on Disputes (March 21, 2001): Justices decide, 5–4, that companies can insist that workplace controversies go to arbitration.
  • Hospital Drug Testing Limited (March 21, 2001): Ruling, 6–3, says hospital workers cannot test maternity patients for illegal drug use without their consent.
  • Right to Counsel Rule Modified (April 2, 2001): Decision, 5–4, holds that under Constitution, police may question a suspect without a lawyer if suspect is already represented by one in a closely related crime.
  • Race Permitted in Redistricting (April 18, 2001): In crucial 5–4 ruling, justices reverse lower court finding that North Carolina legislature had violated the Constitution by using race as a predominant factor in drawing boundaries of congressional district. Because state's black voters vote overwhelmingly Democratic, Court could not determine definitively that redistricting was based on unconstitutional racial considerations rather than permissible political considerations.
  • Arrests Backed for Minor Offenses (April 24, 2001): Court rules, 5–4, that full custodial arrest for a minor offense (in this case failure to use a seat belt) does not violate Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable seizure.
  • Civil Rights Law Limited (April 24, 2001): Court rules, 5–4, that Congress did not authorize private lawsuits under law prohibiting intentional discrimination.
  • Medical Use of Marijuana Limited (May 14, 2001): Court, 8–0, rules that federal law does not allow exception to use of substance. Ruling does not overturn state laws giving patients access.
  • Golf Carts for Disabled Persons on the PGA (May 29, 2001): By a majority of 7–2, the Court found that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires the PGA to allow disabled golfers to use golf carts during qualification rounds on PGA tour.
  • Texas Death Sentence Reversed (June 4, 2001): Justices, 6–3, rule that jurors received flawed instructions in case of retarded man, Johnny Paul Penry. In 20 years on death row, he became a symbol in growing national debate over execution of mentally retarded.
  • Religious Activities for Schools Approved (June 11, 2001): Justices rule, 6–3, that public schools must be open to after-hours religious programs on same basis as any other after-hours activity that school policy permits.
  • Heat-Sensing Police Surveillance (June 11, 2001): Justices, 5–4, disallow the use without a warrant of a thermal imaging device to determine whether a home is radiating abnormal heat (which might indicate the presence of high-intensity lamps used for growing marijuana indoors).
  • Citizenship of Children Born Abroad to Unwed Parents (June 11, 2001): In a 5–4 decision, Court validated a citizenship law that treats children born out of wedlock to noncitizen mothers abroad differently from those born to noncitizen fathers abroad.
  • Protection for Police Increased (June 18, 2001): In 6–3 decision, Court gives extra safeguard to officers in lawsuit alleging use of excessive force.
  • Immigrants Upheld on Challenges (June 25, 2001): Justices decide, 5–4, against automatic deportation of those convicted of crimes before new stringent legal provisions took effect in 1996.
  • Writers Upheld in Copyright Case (June 25, 2001): Court finds, 7–2, that newspaper and magazine publishers infringed on the rights of freelance contributors by making their work accessible to electronic databases without permission.
  • Local Regulation of Tobacco Ads Limited (June 28, 2001): All nine justices agree that smoking is a health problem but invoke statutory and constitutional reasons to invalidate sweeping Massachusetts restrictions on the advertising of tobacco products.
  • Interpretation of Law Is Issue (June 28, 2001): In a final decision justices rule, 5–4, that Court itself must decide requirement for making a ruling retroactive. Case involved right of prison inmates to file more than one petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal court.

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