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U.S. Supreme Court

Senate Republicans and conservative groups quickly rallied behind President Trump's nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, as Democrats focused on lingering anger over another jurist: Merrick Garland.

"I had hoped that President Trump would work in a bipartisan way to pick a mainstream nominee like Merrick Garland and bring the country together," Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement in which he pledged a "thorough and unsparing" confirmation process for Gorsuch.

President Trump has selected federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill a Supreme Court seat that has sat vacant for nearly a year, setting up a blockbuster confirmation hearing that could put the new White House's domestic political agenda on trial in the U.S. Senate.

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a death sentence for an intellectually disabled murderer, following a seminal U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case.

With the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Texas abortion restrictions, attention is turning to Florida where a similar measure is set to take effect Friday.  The law’s backers are confident their legislation will survive a court challenge of its own. 

Florida abortion providers are breathing sighs of relief following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Monday striking down a Texas law that would have greatly limited access to legal abortion in that state.

Defense Lawyers Question Death Penalty Jury Instructions

May 18, 2016

Defense lawyers are attacking a new law aimed at fixing Florida's death penalty sentencing structure, which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year because it gave too much power to judges instead of juries.

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A case that could decide the fate of nearly 400 death row inmates in Florida is being deliberated by the Florida Supreme Court.

The defendant whose case is under consideration by the state high court is Timothy Hurst. It was his case which prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out Florida's death sentencing process.

High-Profile Lawyers Urge Court To Commute Death Sentences

May 4, 2016

Arguing that state law requires it, a who's who of prominent attorneys --- including former presidents of the American Bar Association --- are advising the Florida Supreme Court to reduce the death sentences of all inmates awaiting execution to life in prison.

Heide Castañeda

While many viewed the recent U.S. Supreme Court case involving President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration with a passing interest at best, Heide Castañeda's involvement was much more personal.

Florida's long, twisted legal drama over its congressional districts may finally be reaching its end after a panel of federal judges on Monday rejected a push by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown to throw out the current district boundaries.

State Urges Justices To Reject Abortion Case Appeal

Apr 6, 2016

Attorney General Pam Bondi's office is urging the Florida Supreme Court to turn down an appeal in a legal battle over a 2015 law that requires women to wait 24 hours before having abortions.

A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal in February overturned a temporary injunction that had blocked the law from taking effect.

In Tallahassee, Bills Are Dying

Feb 22, 2016

Members, bills are dying.

Those four words --- or something like them --- have long been used by legislative committee chairmen and presiding officers to try to get lawmakers to focus on the task at hand or to move quickly through contentious agendas. The line also happens to fit what starts happening as the session enters its second half.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, perhaps the leading voice of uncompromising conservatism on the nation's highest court, was found dead Saturday, Chief Justice John Roberts has confirmed. Scalia, who had been staying at a luxury ranch in West Texas, was 79 years old.

NBC News

Does the fact that people getting married in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator mean that states have the power to regulate marriage? And did Sen. Marco Rubio really compare Muslims to Nazis (not really...) To get the answers to those questions, we ask Katie Sanders of PolitiFact Florida.
 

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has always opposed same-sex marriage, and when he was asked if he'd work to overturn the recent Supreme Court ruling, he said he doesn't think the Constitution gives the federal government the power to regulate marriage.

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The Supreme Court has decided that state same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

In a set of cases grouped under Obergefell v. Hodges, the high court ruled, 5-4, that states have to license same-sex marriages, as well as recognize same-sex marriages from other states. All four dissenting justices wrote dissents.

Updated at 11:49 a.m. ET

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that states cannot keep same-sex couples from marrying and must recognize their unions. Those dissenting were the court's four conservative justices: Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito.

Roberts' Rationale

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments Tuesday about whether states have the power to ban same-sex marriage. A dozen couples are challenging the bans in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

This week's same-sex-marriage cases at the Supreme Court brought in a record number of friend-of-the-court briefs — 148 of them, according to the court, beating the previous record of 136 in the 2013 Obamacare case.

These briefs, known formally by their Latin name, amicus briefs, are filed by groups, individuals, and governments that have an interest in the outcome.

The U.S. Supreme Court is tackling a question of great interest to America's auto-loving public: Whose speech is that on your specialty license plate? Specifically, when the government issues specialty tags at the behest of private groups or individuals, can it veto messages deemed offensive to others?

Oil giant BP has suffered a legal setback in its effort to limit how much the company will pay under a 2012 settlement with thousands of individuals and businesses along the Gulf Coast. Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected BP's request that it review previous lower court decisions that favored plaintiffs.

Appeals Court: Welfare Drug Tests Unconstitutional

Dec 3, 2014
Associated Press

 Less than two weeks after hearing arguments in the case, a federal appeals court Wednesday again rejected a Florida law pushed by Gov. Rick Scott requiring welfare applicants to submit to drug tests before they can receive benefits.

The 2011 law "offends the Fourth Amendment" protections from unreasonable searches by the government, a three-judge panel ruled in a 54-page opinion authored by Judge Stanley Marcus.

Over the weekend The Naples Daily News got more than 500 pages of documents relating to Florida’s redistricting scandal.  State officials had originally planned to release the documents on the first of December.  The Florida Supreme Court voted unanimously to unseal the papers earlier this month.

Supreme Court Will Hear New ACA Challenge

Nov 7, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear a new challenge to President Barack Obama's health care law that threatens subsidies that help millions of low- and middle-income people afford their health insurance premiums, including Floridians.

USF Library

A University of South Florida graduate who was one of the lawyers in a ground-breaking gay and lesbian rights case will speak at his alma mater Thursday night.

 The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case next month involving a Holmes Beach fisherman.

Updated at 10:48 a.m. ET

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that some public employees cannot be required to contribute to unions.

In a 5-4 ruling split along ideological lines, the court recognized a category of "partial public employees" who cannot be required to contribute union bargaining fees. The court said the current practice, which permits automatic deductions, violates the First Amendment rights of those nonmembers who disagree with the union's positions.

The Supreme Court has ruled that family owned and other closely held companies can opt out of the Affordable Care Act's provisions for no-cost prescription contraception in most health insurance if they have religious objections.

The owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of arts and crafts stores and those of another closely held company, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., had objected on the grounds of religious freedom.

The ruling affirms a Hobby Lobby victory in a lower court and gives new standing to similar claims by other companies.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 12 years ago that the states could not execute the "mentally retarded." But the court left to the states the definition of what constitutes retardation.

On Tuesday, however, the justices, by a 5-to-4 vote, imposed some limits on those definitions. At issue, in a case from Florida, was how to evaluate IQ tests.

A Florida law that sets an IQ test score of 70 as a minimum in determining who's eligible for the death penalty is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court says. In a reversal of a state court's decision, the justices say Florida's rule ignores norms in the psychiatric profession. The opinion also cites the Eighth Amendment, which bars cruel and unusual punishment.

"Florida set a hard-line rule that the death penalty could not be imposed on convicted felons whose IQ is 70 or below," NPR's Washington desk says in its summary of the case.

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