Black Robes Speak!: June 2012
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Thursday, June 28, 2012


THE CASE IS UNITED STATES v. ALVAREZ. YOU CAN READ THE OPINION HERE. IN ESSENCE THE COURT'S SYNOPSIS IS BELOW: The Stolen Valor Act makes it a crime to falsely claim receipt of military decorations or medals and provides an enhanced penalty if the Congressional Medal of Honor is involved. 18 U. S. C. §§704 (b), (c).Respondent pleaded guilty to a charge of falsely claiming that he had received the Medal of Honor, but reserved his right to appeal his claim that the Act is unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit reversed, finding the Act invalid under the First Amendment. WE AFFIRM

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Monday, June 25, 2012

U. S. SUPREME COURT HOLDS "The Eighth Amendment Forbids A Sentencing Scheme That Mandates Life In Prison Without Possibility Of Parole For Juvenile Homicide Offenders."

THE CASE IS MILLER V. ALABAMA, AND YOU CAN READ THE COURT'S OPINION HERE. EDITOR'S NOTE: THE GIST OF THE COURT'S OPINION CAN BE READ BELOW: "In each of these cases, a 14-year-old was convicted of murder and sentenced to a mandatory term of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. In No. 10−9647, petitioner Jackson accompanied twoother boys to a video store to commit a robbery; on the way to the store, he learned that one of the boys was carrying a shotgun. Jackson stayed outside the store for most of the robbery, but after he entered, one of his co-conspirators shot and killed the store clerk. Arkansas charged Jackson as an adult with capital felony murder and aggravated robbery, and a jury convicted him of both crimes. The trial court imposed a statutorily mandated sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Jackson filed a state habeas petition, arguing that a mandatory life-without-parole term for a 14year-old violates the Eighth Amendment. Disagreeing, the court granted the State’s motion to dismiss. The Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed. In No. 10−9646, petitioner Miller, along with a friend, beat Miller’s neighbor and set fire to his trailer after an evening of drinking anddrug use. The neighbor died. Miller was initially charged as a juvenile, but his case was removed to adult court, where he was charged with murder in the course of arson. A jury found Miller guilty, andthe trial court imposed a statutorily mandated punishment of lifewithout parole. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed,holding that Miller’s sentence was not overly harsh when compared to his crime, and that its mandatory nature was permissible under the Eighth Amendment. Held: The Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders. Pp. 6−27. —————— Held: The Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders. Pp. 6−27."

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YOU CAN READ THE ARIZONA OPINION HERE, AND THE CAMPAIGN FINANCE OPINION HERE. EDITOR'S NOTE: IN THE CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW CASE, THE COURT HAD THIS TO SAY: "A Montana state law provides that a “corporation may not make . . . an expenditure in connection with a candidate or a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party.” Mont. Code Ann. §13–35–227(1) (2011). The Montana Supreme Court rejected petitioners’ claim that this statute violates the First Amendment. 2011 MT 328, 363 Mont. 220, 271 P. 3d 1. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, this Court struck down a similar federal law, holding that “political speech does not lose First Amendment protectionsimply because its source is a corporation.” 558 U. S. ___, ___ (2010) (slip op., at 26) (internal quotation marks omitted). The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law. There can be no serious doubt that it does. See U. S. Const., Art. VI, cl. 2. Montana’s arguments in support of the judgment below either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case." IN THE ARIZONA "IMMIGRATION" CASE, HERE IS THE ESSENCE OF THE COURT'S RULING: "An Arizona statute known as S. B. 1070 was enacted in 2010 to address pressing issues related to the large number of unlawful aliens in the State. The United States sought to enjoin the law as preempted. The District Court issued a preliminary injunction preventing four of its provisions from taking effect. Section 3 makes failure to comply with federal alien-registration requirements a state misdemeanor; §5(C)makes it a misdemeanor for an unauthorized alien to seek or engage in work in the State; §6 authorizes state and local officers to arrest without a warrant a person “the officer has probable cause to believe . . . has committed any public offense that makes the person removable from the United States”; and §2(B) requires officers conducting a stop, detention, or arrest to make efforts, in some circumstances, toverify the person’s immigration status with the Federal Government. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, agreeing that the United States had established a likelihood of success on its preemption claims. Held: 1. The Federal Government’s broad, undoubted power over immigration and alien status rests, in part, on its constitutional power to“establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,” Art. I, §8, cl. 4, and onits inherent sovereign power to control and conduct foreign relations, see Toll v. Moreno, 458 U. S. 1, 10. Federal governance is extensive and complex. Among other things, federal law specifies categories ofaliens who are ineligible to be admitted to the United States, 8 U. S. C. §1182; requires aliens to register with the Federal Government and to carry proof of status, §§1304(e), 1306(a); imposes sanctions on employers who hire unauthorized workers, §1324a; and specifies which aliens may be removed and the procedures for doing so, see §1227. Removal is a civil matter, and one of its principal features 2 ARIZONA v. UNITED STATES Syllabus is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials, who must decide whether to pursue removal at all. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for identifying, apprehending, and removing illegal aliens. It also operates the Law Enforcement Support Center,which provides immigration status information to federal, state, andlocal officials around the clock. Pp. 2–7. 2. The Supremacy Clause gives Congress the power to preempt state law. A statute may contain an express preemption provision, see, e.g., Chamber of Commerce of United States of America v. Whiting, 563 U. S. ___, ___, but state law must also give way to federal law in at least two other circumstances. First, States are precluded from regulating conduct in a field that Congress has determinedmust be regulated by its exclusive governance. See Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Assn., 505 U. S. 88, 115. Intent can be inferred from a framework of regulation “so pervasive . . . that Congress left no room for the States to supplement it” or where a “federalinterest is so dominant that the federal system will be assumed topreclude enforcement of state laws on the same subject.” Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U. S. 218, 230. Second, state laws are preempted when they conflict with federal law, including when theystand “as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.” Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U. S. 52, 67. Pp. 7–8. 3. Sections 3, 5(C), and 6 of S. B. 1070 are preempted by federal law. Pp. 8–19. (a) Section 3 intrudes on the field of alien registration, a field inwhich Congress has left no room for States to regulate. In Hines, a state alien-registration program was struck down on the ground that Congress intended its “complete” federal registration plan to be a “single integrated and all-embracing system.” 312 U. S., at 74. That scheme did not allow the States to “curtail or complement” federallaw or “enforce additional or auxiliary regulations.” Id., at 66–67. The federal registration framework remains comprehensive. Because Congress has occupied the field, even complementary state regulationis impermissible. Pp. 8–11. (b) Section 5(C)’s criminal penalty stands as an obstacle to the federal regulatory system. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), a comprehensive framework for “combating the employment of illegal aliens,” Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB, 535 U. S. 137, 147, makes it illegal for employers to knowingly hire, recruit, refer, or continue to employ unauthorized workers, 8 U. S. C. §§1324a(a)(1)(A), (a)(2), and requires employers to verify prospective employees’ employment authorization status, Cite as: 567 U. S. ____ (2012) 3 Syllabus §§1324a(a)(1)(B), (b). It imposes criminal and civil penalties on employers, §§1324a(e)(4), (f), but only civil penalties on aliens who seek, or engage in, unauthorized employment, e.g., §§1255(c)(2), (c)(8).IRCA’s express preemption provision, though silent about whether additional penalties may be imposed against employees, “does not bar the ordinary working of conflict pre-emption principles” or impose a “special burden” making it more difficult to establish the preemptionof laws falling outside the clause. Geier v. American Honda Motor Co., 529 U. S. 861, 869–872. The correct instruction to draw from the text, structure, and history of IRCA is that Congress decided it would be inappropriate to impose criminal penalties on unauthorized employees. It follows that a state law to the contrary is an obstacle tothe regulatory system Congress chose. Pp. 12–15. (c) By authorizing state and local officers to make warrantless arrests of certain aliens suspected of being removable, §6 too createsan obstacle to federal law. As a general rule, it is not a crime for aremovable alien to remain in the United States. The federal scheme instructs when it is appropriate to arrest an alien during the removal process. The Attorney General in some circumstances will issue awarrant for trained federal immigration officers to execute. If no federal warrant has been issued, these officers have more limited authority. They may arrest an alien for being “in the United States inviolation of any [immigration] law or regulation,” for example, but only where the alien “is likely to escape before a warrant can be obtained.” §1357(a)(2). Section 6 attempts to provide state officers with even greater arrest authority, which they could exercise with no instruction from the Federal Government. This is not the system Congress created. Federal law specifies limited circumstances in which state officers may perform an immigration officer’s functions. This includes instances where the Attorney General has granted that authority in a formal agreement with a state or local government. See, e.g., §1357(g)(1). Although federal law permits state officers to “cooperate with the Attorney General in the identification, apprehension, detention, or removal of aliens not lawfully present in the UnitedStates,” §1357(g)(10)(B), this does not encompass the unilateral decision to detain authorized by §6. Pp. 15–19. 4. It was improper to enjoin §2(B) before the state courts had anopportunity to construe it and without some showing that §2(B)’s enforcement in fact conflicts with federal immigration law and its objectives. Pp. 19–24. (a) The state provision has three limitations: A detainee is presumed not to be an illegal alien if he or she provides a valid Arizonadriver’s license or similar identification; officers may not consider race, color, or national origin “except to the extent permitted by the 4 ARIZONA v. UNITED STATES Syllabus United States [and] Arizona Constitution[s]”; and §2(B) must be “implemented in a manner consistent with federal law regulating immigration, protecting the civil rights of all persons and respecting the privileges and immunities of United States citizens.” P. 20. (b) This Court finds unpersuasive the argument that, even with those limits, §2(B) must be held preempted at this stage. Pp. 20–24. (1) The mandatory nature of the status checks does not interfere with the federal immigration scheme. Consultation between federal and state officials is an important feature of the immigration system. In fact, Congress has encouraged the sharing of informationabout possible immigration violations. See §§1357(g)(10)(A), 1373(c). The federal scheme thus leaves room for a policy requiring state officials to contact ICE as a routine matter. Cf. Whiting, 563 U. S., at ___. Pp. 20–21. (2) It is not clear at this stage and on this record that §2(B), in practice, will require state officers to delay the release of detaineesfor no reason other than to verify their immigration status. This would raise constitutional concerns. And it would disrupt the federal framework to put state officers in the position of holding aliens incustody for possible unlawful presence without federal direction and supervision. But §2(B) could be read to avoid these concerns. If the law only requires state officers to conduct a status check during the course of an authorized, lawful detention or after a detainee has been released, the provision would likely survive preemption—at least absent some showing that it has other consequences that are adverse tofederal law and its objectives. Without the benefit of a definitive interpretation from the state courts, it would be inappropriate to assume §2(B) will be construed in a way that conflicts with federal law. Cf. Fox v. Washington, 236 U. S. 273, 277. This opinion does not foreclose other preemption and constitutional challenges to the lawas interpreted and applied after it goes into effect. Pp. 22–24. 641 F. 3d 339, affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded."

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

In A Welcome News, Kentucky Supreme Court Limits Police Use Of "Protective Sweeps" That Do Away With Our Constitutional Right To "Be Secure In Our Homes Against Warrantless Searches And Seisures". There Is A God!

Ky. court limits 'protective sweeps' by police By BRETT BARROUQUERE LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Lexington police told Crystal Lynn Guzman that, unless she agreed to allow a search of her apartment, an officer would remain with her while another got a warrant. Guzman consented to a warrantless "protective sweep" search in the early hours of Sept. 10, 2008, which turned up cocaine and drug paraphernalia and resulted in Guzman's arrest. But the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the threat of getting a search warrant amounted to an impermissible ruse by officers, who had no probable cause for a warrant. The ruling and threw out Guzman's conviction as well as the evidence seized in the search. The ruling sets new limits in Kentucky on how far police officers may go to gain access to homes and vehicles without a search warrant. "Even when a search is authorized by consent, the scope of the search is limited by the terms of its authorization," five justices wrote in an unsigned opinion. Justice Bill Cunningham wrote in a concurring opinion that using the threat of a search warrant without probable cause to get the document has become a dangerous and much used technique that "could be an exploding land mine." "When you have consent to enter into one's living room, you are not invited into the kitchen, or the bedroom, or the basement," Cunningham wrote. "Here, we are talking about the suppression of drugs. When the issue appears squarely before us in full bloom, it could mean the suppression of a murder weapon. Hopefully, this writing will help us avoid that more critical situation." When making an arrest, police have the right to search and control the immediate area around where the incident happened for their own safety. But, when making an arrest in a home, officers generally need some evidence of criminal wrongdoing in another part of the residence to continue searching. Without consent or an emergency circumstance, officers have to stop the search unless a warrant is granted. In this case, officers went to Guzman's apartment after a neighbor complained about possible drug transactions. Officers found Guzman and a man on the floor having sex when they arrived. Once Guzman turned on a lamp, officers asked if anyone else was in the apartment, to which Guzman responded no. Officers saw a blanket covering a doorway and conducted a "protective sweep" of the apartment. During the sweep, an officer found a spoon in the kitchen sink that had drug residue on it. That's when an officer asked for permission to search the entire apartment. Guzman refused and officers threatened to get a warrant do to so. The justices noted that there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing seen in the living room and were told that no one else was in the apartment. Without consent, officers should not have conducted the sweep or been in the kitchen, the justices wrote. The justices noted that the "ancient" Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, as well as Section 10 of the Kentucky Constitution, protect citizens from warrantless search and seizures and "do not discern between rich or poor." "This apartment, its occupants, and their unseemly activities may not have measured up to an acceptable standard of decency," the justices wrote, but that didn't give officers the right to search the home. Cunningham noted that the method used by police "is fraught with constitutional problems." "Misinformation or deception by a law enforcement officer for purposes of obtaining consent to search will not be upheld," Cunningham wrote. Read more here: Editor's comment; A great win for "We, the people". Editor's note: The case is CRYSTAL LYNN GUZMAN V. COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY, 2010-SC-000415-DG (2012) and can be read here.

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