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Supreme Court Update

June 26, 2014

The Supreme Court has issued opinions in all but two of its cases. The remaining decisions will be released on Monday. In addition to the decision in the Noel Canning case, the court released opinions in several other cases of note:

  • American Broadcast Companies v. Aereo: In an important copyright law decision, the court ruled that Aereo violated copyright laws by retransmitting television programming to consumers. Aereo’s internet-based alternative to cable TV provided equipment that allows subscribers to watch and record their local over-the-air broadcasts from devices. The court found that this service unlawfully exploited broadcasters’ copyrighted works without permission or payment. 
  • McCullen v. Coakley: In a unanimous opinion, the court invalidated a Massachusetts law prohibiting speech within 35 feet of any place, besides hospitals, where abortions are performed. Such buffer zones, the court concluded, run afoul of the First Amendment.
  • Riley vs. California: The court unanimously held that police must obtain a warrant to search a cell phone’s contents. The court did not extend the Fourth Amendment exceptions allowing for warrantless searches because, “digital data stored on a cell phone cannot itself be used as a weapon to harm an arresting officer or to effectuate the arrestee’s escape.” The decision allows exceptions for exigent circumstances. This decision also did not address broader collection or inspection of digital information under other circumstances, such as in the national security realm.

Case Name

Question for the Court

Burwell v. Hobby Lobby;

Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Burwell

Two cases dealing with HHS contraception mandates, the court will answer whether corporations may deny coverage for employees.

Harris v. Quinn

A constitutional challenge to labor union’s agency fees for employees in the public sector.