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U.S. Supreme Court

Written by Dick Pryor on Tuesday October 4, 2011


September 18, 2011

Following the Red Mass the Sunday before, the United States Supreme Court opens its new term each year on the first Monday in October. Every term is eventful, but in the last few years the nine justices who serve on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) have issued opinions making significant changes in American jurisprudence and our very way of life.

The case of Bush v. Gore in 2000 determined the outcome of the 2000 presidential election and, it turns out, the course of the nation for the next eight years. That case elevated awareness of the importance of the Supreme Court and illustrated some of the deep divisions among its members.

Every year, we like to bring legal experts together to discuss the recent Supreme Court term and gaze forward into the year ahead. This year, our guests were Joseph Thai, Presidential Professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law; Lyn Entzeroth, Professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law; and Marc Blitz, Professor at the Oklahoma City University School of Law.

We focused on several key cases from the 2010-11 term, including Connick v. Thompson, in which the court overturned a multi-million dollar damage award given to a man who spent 18 years on death row after prosecutors failed to turn over evidence that would have exonerated him. Also, Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn, involving a taxpayer suit challenging an Arizona law that established a tax credit to tuition organizations that provide scholarships for students to attend private schools. It was a case that addressed taxpayer standing and the future of taxpayer lawsuits.

In Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the court addressed the validity of a major class action discrimination case and Snyder v. Phelps held (in an 8-1 decision with Justice Joseph Alito dissenting) that the Westboro Baptist Church is entitled to full First Amendment protection for its protests at military funerals. Similarly, the court held in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association that video games should be accorded First Amendment protection. That case evaluated a California law that restricted sale of violent video games to children. And, coming soon after the controversial decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the court took on another campaign finance case, Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett. That case addressed the so-called "independent" political expenditures.

As for key cases in the upcoming term beginning October 3...well, you will just have to watch the program. It is available on-air and on-line.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor

(Pictured above, left to right: Host Dick Pryor, Joseph Thai, Lyn Entzeroth, Marc Blitz)

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