This morning, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of United States v. Apel, concerning whether military bases have the authority to punish anti-war protestors who violate the rules of access to military facilities. The military base in question is Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, a base that the public needs special permission to enter, but across which runs Pacific Coast Highway, a public road, which are generally open to free speech activity. In the late 1980s, a commander set up a public protest area just outside the main gate, along the highway. There are laws making it a crime to enter a military base for an illegal purpose and to reenter a base after having been barred or removed from a base, but the federal government formally gave the state of California an easement to use the part of the Pacific Coast Highway that runs across the edge of the base as a public road. The protest zone is within the space covered by the easement.
The defendant in the case is no longer welcome in the protest zone due to an earlier incident in which he through blood on a sign at the gate of the base and then again years later for trespassing. In 2010, Mr. Apel entered the protest zone on three occasions. He was charged for violating the provision hat criminalizes entering a base after having been barred previously and convicted. The Ninth Circuit overturned that conviction, relying on a prior case from the same military base that stated the Air Force can only punish those entering a base without permission if the military has “the exclusive right of possession” of the property and concluding that it shares authority over the protest zone and the part of Pacific Coast Highway because of the easement.
Check out SCOTUSblog’s analysis on the upcoming arguments to see the issues that will likely arise and what the court will be considering.
On Monday, the Court refused to hear two new cases that challenged state taxes on Internet-only sales in states where those companies do not have a physical presence: Overstock.com Inc., v. New York Taxation Dep’t and Amazon.com v. New York Taxation Dep’t. In both cases, the Internet retailers argued that they had no presence in the state and should be exempt from taxes on purchases made on those Internet retail sites by New York customers. The Court of Appeals (the highest court in the state) ruled that they were subject to tax in New York because contracts with third-party local affiliates that generate customers for them through Internet links to the retailers’ websites is a substantial enough nexus to force the companies to collect taxes. The Washington post posited that the court’s decision to stay out of the issue may pressure Congress to come up with a solution on a national level; in the meantime, Overstock.com has suspended its relationships with the local affiliates to avoid having to conform to the New York law.
The library will be open the following, expanded hours for Thanksgiving week:
Thursday: Closed for Thanksgiving
The library will be open the following hours during the exam period (Saturday, November 30th through Friday, December 13th:
Fridays: 7:00am-11:00pm (Note: The library will close at 7:00pm on Friday, Dec. 13th)
Good luck on exams, and please see a reference librarian for the CALI access code or to help find any other study materials that might be helpful as you prepare for exams!
Check out this latest SCOTUSblog post on why Supreme Court cases settle. The post was written in light of the recent settlement in the Mount Holly v. Mount Holly Garden Citizens in Action Inc. housing discrimination lawsuit. The post is part of a larger series called SCOTUS for law students; you can check out all the post in the SCOTUS for law students series here.
On Monday, the Supreme Court denied the petition for certiorari in a case challenging the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s April order requiring Verizon to turn over data to the National Security Agency including telephone calls and internet exchanges of United States citizens. The petition, brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, sought to vacate the order and block similar orders, questioning whether the FISC exceeded its authority.
The library has lots of study aids available to help you prepare for your substantive law class exams.
The Study Aids are located across from the Reference Desk, to your left as you enter the library; there are also some study aids on reserve. If you’re looking for practice questions with sample answers, this is the place to go; it can be very helpful for you to test what you know and find out what you might need to review again. They can also help you think about how to approach questions; for example, the Crunchtime series has flow charts that were very helpful for me when I was in law school in making a plan of attack for certain types of questions.
Also helpful are CALI lessons. It has lessons on all the first year courses, and again they are a great way to review hat you’ve already studied and test what you still need to learn, or simply to give yourself a break from outlining without taking a break from studying. If you haven’t registered for CALI already, you can do so by going to the following website: http://www.cali.org/user/register. You’ll create your own password once you’re there. You’ll need USC’s authorization code. Stop by the reference desk or ask your favorite reference librarian for it!
Good luck with studying!
On Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the state’s DWI implied consent law, which makes it a crime for impaired drivers to refuse to take a breath, blood, or urine test. The court held that the law was constitutional under the Fourth Amendment, stating that a driver’s decision to be tested is not coerced because refusal to do so is a crime.
The Oyez Project, run by Chicago-Kent School of Law, is a one-stop shop for Supreme Court oral arguments from the current term.
You can now listen to the oral arguments for the first big case of the term, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.
To find other cases, click Cases from the bar at the top of the Oyez Project homepage. Simply find the case you’re looking for (they’re organized by date) and select the title. Once on the individual case’s page, click the link next to the audio button, and you’ll get an audio player to listen to the oral argument. A transcript of the argument will also play, including the picture of the person speaking so you can follow along. The case page also includes a brief set of facts and the issue before the Court.
On Friday, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the state must begin recognizing same sex marriages. Thew lower court ruling found that civil unions deprive same-sex couples of federal benefits enjoyed by married couples. That ruling was challenged by Governor Chris Christie, but the Chief Justice rejected the state’s claim that it would suffer irreparable harm if the order was allowed to stand. As such, the lower court’s ruling was allowed to stand, pending a hearing on the merits in January.
One of the big cases in the Supreme Court’s upcoming term is Town of Greece v. Galloway, which will look at whether prayer before a town hall meeting violates the Establishment Clause. SCOTUSblog once again offers excellent coverage, with a series of posts on the upcoming case by law professors and legal professionals from all over the country.
Check it out!