U.S. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is looking to make the final stretch of the 2012 term a dramatic one: While the justices knocked out five opinions today, none of them were the major ones we've been looking forward to. As we've told you before, we're waiting for:

Fisher v. University of Texas, a key test of affirmative action in higher education.

There's no big news again today from the U.S. Supreme Court — which is sort-of big news in itself because it means we're still waiting for the justices' decisions on these major cases:

-- Fisher v. University of Texas, a key test of affirmative action in higher education.

By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a Maryland law that allows police to collect DNA, without first getting a warrant, from persons who are arrested.

flickr.com/fisherfotos

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a case that could help people already convicted of crimes appeal their convictions in federal court.

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that an Indiana farmer infringed on Monsanto's patent when he planted soybeans that had been genetically modified by Monsanto without buying them from the agribusiness giant.

(We most recently updated the top of this post at 1:45 p.m. ET.)

There seem to be four solid votes on the Supreme Court — and possibly a fifth — to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages, NPR's Nina Totenberg told us after Wednesday's oral arguments before the nine justices.

But there's a big "if."

As in: There's possibly a 5-vote majority to strike down the law if the court first decides it should even issue an opinion.

As we wait for the Supreme Court to convene again at 10 a.m. ET and begin the second of two historic days of oral arguments focusing on legal issues surrounding same-sex marriage, there's a natural question:

Did Day 1 — a case about California's Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage — tell us much about how the justices will tackle Wednesday's case?

NPR's Nina Totenberg told us Tuesday that the short answer is no.

(Our most recent update was at 12:50 p.m. ET.)

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

As the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments today over same-sex marriage, here in Austin, people on both sides of the issues surrounding the cases will gather at the Capitol. 

Governor Rick Perry is expected to be the featured speaker at the "Faith and Family" rally in support of so-called "traditional values."

flickr.com/safari_vacation

The Texas Capitol celebrated the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright today, the Supreme Court case that determined courts have to supply legal counsel in criminal cases when requested.

Bruce Jacob, a professor at the Stetson University College of Law, presented the history at the Capitol Monday. Jacob was the Assistant Attorney General of Florida during the Gideon v. Wainwright case. He argued against Gideon, on behalf of Wainwright.

The Obama administration has filed a friend of the court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down California's ban on gay marriage as a denial of "equal protection under the law." But the brief does not call for the abolition of all state bans on same-sex marriage.

The case now before the high court tests the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, a referendum narrowly passed by voters in 2008 that reinstituted a ban on gay marriage.

Once again, race is front and center at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday. And once again, the bull's eye is the 1965 Voting Rights Act, widely viewed as the most effective and successful civil rights legislation in American history. Upheld five times by the court, the law now appears to be on life support.

Barely three years after the Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United ruling, which liberated corporations to spend freely in elections, the justices say they'll take up another campaign finance case — this time aiming at one of the limits on the "hard money" that goes directly to candidates and party committees.

Joy Diaz

La Jueza de la Suprema Corte de Justicia de los Estados Unidos, Sonia Sotomayor vino a Austin esta semana a promover su libro My Beloved World, (Mi Mundo Amado). En el libro, la señora Sotomayor invita a los lectores a conocerla de una manera muy íntima. A través de cada página, uno puede entender las circunstancias que forjaron su destino.

Joy Diaz/KUT News

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is in Austin today promoting her new memoir My Beloved World, which gives readers an intimate look into the circumstances that shaped her character.

The Supreme Court has decided to take up cases involving California's Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage, and a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The justices' rulings on the cases are likely to be announced next June, after arguments are heard in the spring. Advocates on both sides of the issue were welcoming the news.

The Supreme Court has agreed to weigh the constitutionality of the decision by Congress in 2006 to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, the landmark Civil Rights legislation enacted in 1965 that let millions of African-Americans cast ballots for the first time in states that had long blocked them from voting booths.

According to Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSBlog:

Good morning. This misty weather is expected to clear some, with highs warming into the mid-80s according to the Weather Channel. Here’s some of  KUT News’ top stories from this morning and yesterday evening:

The University of Texas is making the case for its affirmative action program before the Supreme Court today. Here’s a round-up of links on what’s at stake, and what to expect.

Supreme Court Set to Hear Oral Arguments on UT's Admissions Policy (Texas Tribune)

Abigail Fisher, a white student who graduated outside the top 10 percent of her high school class, was denied admission to UT-Austin in 2008. Claiming that students with lower test scores and less extracurricular involvement were admitted to UT-Austin over her because of their race, Fisher sued the university.

Now the justices will consider Fisher’s argument that UT-Austin’s admissions policy violates the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause and federal civil rights statutes because it considers race when admitting the students who are not automatically admitted in accordance with state law. The court’s decision is expected to come early next year.

flickr.com/islespunkfan

Wednesday, Oct. 10, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Fisher v. The University of Texas. The case asks whether including race as a factor for admission is constitutional. Debate around the issue has been heated.

Minority groups held a conference at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday and said affirmative action is necessary to right historic wrongs. They argued that underprivileged minorities remain underprivileged if they can’t attend flagship universities. And they argued that diversity in the classroom will help students deal with diversity in the real world.

But Lino Graglia, a constitutional law professor at UT who specializes in race and education (and is no stranger to controversial remarks on the topic), says affirmative action won’t fix this. He says the real problem is that many minority students aren’t ready for college when they graduate high school.

flickr.com/s_falkow

This morning the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a call from the League of United Latin American Citizens to bar the use of Texas district maps drawn by a panel of judges for use in the November elections.

The maps were drawn to replace maps put together by the Republican-led Texas legislature. In August, a Federal Court in Washington D.C. blocked their use.

But LULAC argues that the maps drawn by the judges were based on the maps drawn by the legislature so both should be thrown out.

"Everyone agrees. Everyone, including the state, agrees that these maps are flawed. There's something wrong. We all disagree over exactly what is flawed but, either way, there's flaws in them," LULAC's attorney Luis Vera says.

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