Notable Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court,
2007–2008 Term

Updated June 18, 2019 | Infoplease Staff

The following list includes the major decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court during the 2007–2008 term, and the number of votes on rulings that include execution, finance, rape, retirement, injury, discrimination, Guantanamo Bay detainees, and more.

  • Justices Grant Last-Minute Stay of Execution (Oct. 30, 2007): With the required five votes, the Court grants Earl W. Berry a stay of execution moments before he is scheduled to die by lethal injection. A full court review of the appeal remains unscheduled.
  • Supreme Court Restores Control to Federal Judges (Dec. 10, 2007): Court votes, 7–2, to give federal district judges the authority to impose sentences at their discretion even if the sentences conflict with federal sentencing guidelines.
  • Supreme Court Limits Shareholder Lawsuits (Jan. 15, 2008): Judges rule, 5–3, that shareholders cannot sue financial institutions if stocks plummet unless they can prove they were deceived or intentionally misled by a corporation.
  • Supreme Court Says 401(k) Participants Can Sue (Feb. 20, 2008): Justices unanimously vote to allow 401(k) retirement participants to sue under a pension protection law to recover their losses, which will affect 50 million workers with $2.7 trillion of retirement investments.
  • Supreme Court Protects Medical Device Makers (Feb. 20, 2008): Justices rule, 8–1, that the makers of medical devices approved by the Food and Drug Administration are not subject to liability from personal injury cases.
  • Supreme Court Denies New Hearing for Mexican (March 26, 2008): Court votes 6–3, that Texas was not obligated to give a hearing to Mexican, Jose E. Medellin, who was convicted of murder despite many appeals and a declaration from President Bush saying that Medellin's previous trial for murder violated United States treaty obligations.
  • Supreme Court Sustains Lethal Injection Case in Kentucky (April 16, 2008): Judges rule 7–2, that Kentucky's method of execution by lethal injection is constitutional. Dozens of executions were delayed awaiting the decision.
  • Supreme Court Favors Voter ID Law (April 28, 2008): In a 6–3 ruling, Judges rule to uphold Indiana's voter identification law, declaring that the requirement of having a photo ID does not encumber the right to vote.
  • Supreme Court Upholds Child Pornography Law (May 19, 2008): Judges ruled 7–2, that a 2003 child pornography law is not unconstitutionally vague, after the United States Court of Appeals asserted that the law is too broad and violates the First Amendment.
  • Supreme Court Protects Employees from Discrimination (May 27, 2008): Judges rule 7–2, that employees are protected from retaliation if they complain about discrimination in the workplace.
  • Supreme Court Decides in Favor of Guantanamo Detainees (June 12, 2008): Court rules, 5–4, that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have a right to challenge their detention in federal court. It is the third decision against the Bush administration's policy on such detainees.
  • Supreme Court Supports Older Workers (June 19, 2008): The Court votes, 7–1, that lay-offs hurt older workers more than others and that employers must prove that an employees termination is not based on age, but on other "reasonable factors."
  • Supreme Court Limits Capital Punishment (June 25, 2008): Court rules, 5–4, that the death penalty is unconstitutional punishment for the crime of child rape and any individual crimes "where the victim's life was not taken." Child rape offenders will be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
  • Supreme Court Rules for Gun Rights (June 26, 2008): The Supreme Court rules, 5–4, that the Constitution protects an individual's right to possess a gun, but insists that the ruling "is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."
  • Supreme Court Rejects the "millionaire's amendment" (June 26, 2008): Judges rule, 5–4, that a proposed law regulating campaign finances is not constitutional. The law, known as the "millionaire's amendment," would have required candidates who finance their own campaign to provide more information and allow other candidates more time to raise equivalent funds.
  • Justice Department Acknowledges Error in Supreme Court Ruling (July 2, 2008): The Supreme Court ruled on June 25 that the death penalty is unconstitutional punishment for the crime of child rape. In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the ruling was partly based on the fact child rape is not a capital offense under federal law. However, in 2006 Congress revised the Uniform Code of Military Justice to apply the death penalty to child rape. President Bush signed the law and later issued an executive order adding it to the 2008 Manual for Courts-Martial. The Justice Department said in a statement that it should have made the Supreme Court aware of the law.
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