Overview of the 2004 Supreme Court Term

The Supreme Court ended its 2004 Term by strongly reaffirming the principle that government should not be in the business of promoting religion.

The end of the Term may also have signaled the end of an era, with rumors swirling that Chief Justice Rehnquist may soon step down after leading the Court for 19 years. Whether or not those rumors are accurate, it was a Term in which the Chief Justice was on the losing side of many of the ideological battles he has fought so vigorously throughout his judicial tenure.

"The Court's civil liberties record this year was a surprisingly positive one," said Steven R. Shapiro, the ACLU's national legal director. "In contrast to past years, the Justices seemed less anxious to undermine meaningful civil rights enforcement, more skeptical about the death penalty, and more willing to look at international law for whatever guidance it can provide in resolving fundamental human rights issues."

> Summary of 2004 Supreme Court Term
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Supreme Court Cases

Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales Decided

Womens' Rights

8/17/2011 - Reviewing whether a woman whose three children were killed after being abducted by her estranged husband can raise a procedural due process claim based on the Town of Castle Rock’s failure to enforce a protective order despite Colorado's mandatory arrest law. DECIDED

Halbert v. Michigan Decided

Criminal Justice, Rights of the Poor

1/11/2006 - Raising the same issue as Kowalski, which was dismissed on standing grounds. DECIDED

Wilkinson v. Austin Decided

Prisoners' Rights, Racial Equality

6/13/2005 - Reviewing the procedures required by due process before an Ohio prisoner can be transferred to the state's “Supermax” facility. DECIDED

Cutter v. Wilkinson Decided

Religious Freedom

5/31/2005 - Reviewing the constitutionality of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a federal law designed in part to protect the free exercise rights of prisoners and other institutionalized persons. DECIDED

Jackson v. City of Birmingham Decided

Womens' Rights

3/29/2005 - Reviewing whether whistleblowers are protected against retaliation under Title IX, which generally prohibits sex discrimination in schools. DECIDED

MGM Studios v. Grokster Decided

Freedom of Expression

3/29/2005 - Reviewing whether the developers of software that allows for peer-to-peer file sharing can be held liable if that software is used by some consumers for copyright infringement when it is also capable of substantial non-infringing uses. DECIDED

FCC v. Brand X Internet Services Decided

Free Speech

3/29/2005 - Reviewing whether cable broadband services should be allowed to limit access to a single Internet Service Provider (ISP). DECIDED

Roper v. Simmons Decided

Death Penalty

3/1/2005 - Challenging the constitutionality of the juvenile death penalty. DECIDED

Garrison S. Johnson v. California Decided

Prisoners' Rights, Racial Equality

2/23/2005 - Reviewing whether California's policy of racially segregating all new prisoners should be subject to strict judicial scrutiny. DECIDED

Jay V. Johnson v. California Decided

Prisoners' Rights, Racial Equality

2/18/2005 - Reviewing the procedure by which a defendant can establish that the prosecution improperly used its peremptory jury challenges in a racially discriminatory fashion. DECIDED

Muehler v. Mena Decided

Immigrants' Rights

11/29/2004 - Challenging the length, nature, and scope of the police detention of a lawful permanent resident during a police raid. 

Illinois v. Caballes Decided

Search and Seizure

11/10/2004 - Reviewing whether police can expand a routine traffic stop into a drug investigation by using a drug-sniffing dog in the absence of individualized suspicion. DECIDED

Kowalski v. Tesmer Decided

Criminal Justice, Rights of the Poor

9/8/2004 - Reviewing whether indigent criminal defendants in Michigan are entitled to appointed counsel on their first appeal, even if they plead guilty. DECIDED

Kanter v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue Decided

Government Secrecy

9/8/2004 - Challenging Tax Court practice of basing decisions on secret reports of Special Trial Judges that are not disclosed to the parties. DECIDED

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