On Sunday, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill allowing illegal immigrants to obtain temporary driver’s licenses under certain conditions, such as 1) being able to provide proof of one-year state residence, and 2) having an unexpired passport from their country of citizenship or other valid consular identification documents. The bill allows potential licensees to take the written and driving tests and requires them to have proof of automobile insurance. The bill specifies that the license cannot be used to vote, purchase firearms or board an airplane.
On Friday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the constitutional authority to fill a vacancy can be used in the time between the end of one Congress and the start of another, or when there is a formal break at the end of one session. In other words, it cannot occur during any other mid-session break. As such, three appointments made by President Obama to the National Labor Relations Board were found unconstitutional.
With this ruling, lower courts are now split on this issue of separation of powers, and it’s likely that the issue could go before the Supreme Court. See SCOTUSBlog’s full analysis here.
On Wednesday, President Obama signed twenty-three executive actions, most of which are intended to strengthen existing gun laws and deal with issues of mental health and school safety. The President also called on Congress to pass stricter gun control laws, including a reinstatement of the assaults weapons ban and a restriction of the number rounds in ammunition magazines.
Click here to read the President’s plan to reduce gun violence.
The law library will be open the following hours for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend:
Friday, January 18: 7:00am-8:00pm
Saturday, January 19: 9:00am-5:00pm
Sunday, January 20: 3:00pm-11:00pm
Monday, January 21: 1:00pm-11:00pm
Regular hours will resume on Tuesday, January 22nd. Enjoy the long weekend!!!
Yesterday, Justice Thomas broke an almost seven-year long span of silence during Supreme Court oral arguments during the case of Boyer v. Louisiana–apparently to poke fun at his alma mater, Yale Law School. While it was apparently difficult to hear Justice Thomas, SCOTUSBlog’s twitter account reports that he said, “Yale degree could mean lawyer is incompetent, not competent, capital trial counsel.” Audio of the oral argument will be available on Friday.
Justice Thomas last spoke on Feb. 22nd, 2006.
On Friday, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in six new cases, including one in which they will decide on whether the right to remain silent exists for individuals who have not been arrested, but are being interviewed by the police and were not given Miranda warnings. To learn what topics will be considered in the other five cases, check out SCOTUSBlog’s update.
Check out the Citation Workstation available on LexisNexis. To access it, simply log in to Lexis (not Lexis Advance) and click on Citation Workstation on the right hand side. On the page it takes you to, select Bluebook at the top of the page. You will find exercises on everything from signal to parentheticals to short forms to get you in shape before you’re out in the workplace (or trying out for law review).
This week, our focus is on federal statutes. The U.S. House of Representatives is the keeper of the U.S. Code. Their new beta site is much easier to use. It has a nice Popular Name Tool. You can also retrieve a statute by citation, browse the table of contents, and search for statutes by subject.
The beta site also provides a link to the official, authenticated U.S. Code on the Government Printing Office’s (GPO’s) Federal Digital System (FDsys) website. FDsys is not as easy to use, so you may want to search for the statute on the House’s website and then retrieve it on FDsys.
On Friday, January 18th at 10:30am, the ABA Section of Litigation is streaming a live program commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark case recognizing the right to appointed counsel for indigent criminal defendants. The program is open to all, and viewers can participate by submitting questions via the web during the program. Speakers will include notable scholars and an exonerated death row inmate. For more information and to access the program on January 18th, go the Section’s webpage. Check it out!
Tomorrow morning, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Missouri v. McNeely, which considers the issue of whether police require a court order before getting a blood sample from an individual suspected of drunk driving.
In the case at hand, McNeely was pulled over for speeding, proceeded to fail field sobriety tests, and refused a breathalyzer. The officer drove McNeely to a hospital, where McNeely refused a blood test, but the officer directed the technician to take one anyway. The sample showed a blood alcohol level of almost double the legal limit, which McNeely’s legal team attempted to block as evidence, arguing that the sample was a warrantless search in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. The trial judge barred the evidence from the case, finding no exigent circumstances. The state appeals court overturned that result, but the Missouri Supreme Court ruled for McNeely.
The Missouri Supreme Court’s ruling was based on the 1966 case, Schmerber v. California, where the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that it doesn’t violate the Fourth Amendment for police to order a blood sample of a person involved in an automobile accident who’s suspected of being drunk without a warrant. At that time, the majority said it was ruling on the basis of “exigent circumstances”–that the officer didn’t have time to get a warrant because the suspect had to go to the hospital to be treated for injuries. According to the Missouri Supreme Court, under Schmerber, exigent circumstances do not apply simply because the alcohol in a person’s bloodstream begnis to diminish once a person stops drinking; rather, there must be a number of “special facts” that leads the officer to believe it’s an emergency situation. Currently, state supreme courts and the federal appeals courts are split on the issue, with some holding that the dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream is itself a sufficient exigent circumstance, while others ruled as Missouri did, following the narrow precedent set by Schmerber.
For further analysis of this upcoming case, check out SCOTUSBlog’s coverage.