Supreme Court Takes Up Federal Right to Same-Sex Marriage

153140057From the former capital of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, comes the spark for a Supreme Court decision that could extend same-sex marriage to all fifty states within a year. Continue reading

The Best Interest of the Tribe?

hands_146966132Update: On June 26, 2013, the U.S Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the South Carolina Supreme Court and remanded the case for further proceedings based on its holding that 25 USC §1912(f) (part of the Indian Child Welfare Act) doesn’t apply when the parent opposing the adoption never had custody of the Indian child.

An episode of A&E’s series Longmire (“The Dog Soldier”) delved into the complicated world of Indian child fostering and adoption. The show got the law wrong, but that’s not surprising in this complicated area. Although the Supreme Court may offer some clarity in its upcoming decision on the appeal of Adoptive Couple v Baby Girl (SC 2012) 731 SE2d 550, it would take the wisdom of Solomon, invoked wistfully by Justice Kennedy, to fashion a happy outcome for one Indian child. Continue reading

Appellate Style Differences on Summary Reversal

The New York Times has dubbed summary reversal as a “favorite tool” of the Roberts Court. There’s speculation the Supreme Court may use it in a Citizens United sequel. By contrast, California courts use summary reversal very sparingly.   Continue reading

Supreme Court’s Recognition of a “Ministerial Exception” in First Amendment May Have Wide-Reaching Implications

The following is a guest blog post by Alan D. Weinfeld of Parker, Milliken, Clark, O’Hara & Samuelian in Los Angeles.

The United States Supreme Court recently recognized the existence of a “ministerial exception” in the First Amendment, which precludes lawsuits by ministers against their religious institutions for violations of employment discrimination laws. This decision could have wide-reaching impact not just on churches, temples and mosques, but on all types of religious-based organizations. Continue reading

No Inheritance for Anna Nicole Smith: Ninth Circuit Was Right (Again) for the Wrong Reason

Update: In a reversal of fortune, the district court has awarded sanctions for discovery abuse in favor of Anna Nicole Smith’s estate and her daughter Dannielynn against the estate of her stepson, Pierce Marshall, and his attorney. In a sweeping decision (Marshall v Hilliard (In re Marshall) (CD Cal May 29, 2013, SACV-01-0097 DOC)), the court found that Marshall and his attorney had practiced a fraud on the court and made a mockery of the justice system by withholding or destroying documents, among other abuses. Smith’s estate now stands to collect much of the earlier damage award thrown out by the Ninth Circuit.

It isn’t often that a court is reversed twice by the U.S. Supreme Court in the same case and still had the right result. But in effect, that’s what happened to the Ninth Circuit in the Anna Nicole Smith case. Continue reading

Thank you, Justice Stevens

After 34 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Stevens will retire at the end of this term.  As described by the National Law Journal, Justice Stevens leaves a “diverse legal legacy,” including

…authoring landmark decisions ranging from Reno v. ACLU, the 1997 decision that anointed the Internet with broad First Amendment protection, to Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council in 1984, which has guided the administrative state ever since. Continue reading