Overview of the 2008 Supreme Court Term

Justice Souter Ends A Distinguished Career As U.S. Supreme Court Concludes A Relatively Quiet Term

The Supreme Court concluded its 2008 Term on June 29, 2009, clearing the stage for the confirmation hearings of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, which are scheduled to begin in the Senate on July 13. It also marks the end of Justice David Souter's distinguished career on the Supreme Court. More >>
Read a summary of all of the Court's major civil liberties-related cases from this Term >>

Supreme Court Cases

Safford Unified School District v. Redding Decided

Students' Rights

7/7/2010 - Whether school officials acted unconstitutionally by strip searching a 13-year-old girl based on the uncorroborated accusation of a fellow student and, if so, whether the strip search was so clearly unconstitutional that plaintiff is entitled to damages. DECIDED

Ricci v. DeStefano Decided


6/29/2009 - Whether a public employer may lawfully refuse to certify the results of a promotional exam when it has a strong basis in evidence to believe that the test violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act because of its discriminatory impact on minorities or women. DECIDED

Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Mukasey Decided

Voting Rights

6/22/2009 - Whether Congress properly exercised its authority under the Fourteenth Amendment when, in 2006, it extended the pre-clearance requirements of the Voting Rights Act 25 years based on an extensive record of ongoing discrimination against minorities in voting. DECIDED

FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc. Decided

Free Speech

4/28/2009 - Whether the FCC improperly reversed its position without adequate justification by recently holding that "fleeting expletives" represent "indecent" speech that can be banned from the airwaves. DECIDED

Arizona v. Gant Decided

Criminal Justice

4/22/2009 - Whether the police may search a car without a warrant after someone who has been arrested for driving with a suspended license is already handcuffed and sitting in the back of a police cruiser. DECIDED

Montejo v. State of Louisiana Decided

Criminal Justice

4/14/2009 - Whether the police may interrogate an indigent defendant who has been assigned counsel without counsel present on the theory that the defendant never formally indicated that he accepted the appointment. DECIDED

al-Marri v. Spagone

Unlawful Detention

3/6/2009 - Whether a U.S. resident arrested in the U.S. can be indefinitely detained as an "enemy combatant" in a military brig without criminal charges or trial. CASE DISMISSED

Nijhawan v. Holder Decided

Immigrants' Rights

3/4/2009 - Whether an immigration judge can engage in a wide-ranging inquiry to determine whether a prior conviction counts as an aggravated felony for deportation purposes or is instead limited to considering the elements of the crime.

District Attorney's Office v. Osborne Decided

Criminal Justice

2/2/2009 - Whether it violates due process to imprison someone who is actually innocent, and whether an inmate has a post-conviction right to obtain DNA evidence in the government's possession that could establish his innocence with total certainty. DECIDED

Vermont v. Brillon Decided

Criminal Justice

12/29/2008 - Whether delays caused by systemic deficiencies in a state's indigent defense system can ever be charged against the state in deciding whether a criminal defendant has been denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial. DECIDED

Nken v. Mukasey Decided

Immigrants' Rights

12/26/2008 - Whether federal law can be construed to make it more difficult for an alien facing removal from the country to obtain a temporary stay pending judicial review of the agency decision than to obtain a final judgment reversing the removal order. 

Van de Kamp v. Goldstein Decided

Criminal Justice

9/5/2008 - Whether someone who was falsely imprisoned for 24 years based on the untrue testimony of a criminal informant can sue senior administrators in the prosecutor's office for their failure to maintain an even rudimentary record system that would have disclosed impeachment information about the informant prior to trial. DECIDED

Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee Decided


8/29/2008 - Whether Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which generally prohibits sex discrimination in federally-funded schools, bars public school students from also challenging sex discrimination as a violation of the Constitution.DECIDED

Pearson v. Callahan Decided

Criminal Justice

8/11/2008 - Whether, absent an emergency, the Fourth Amendment permits the police to enter a home without a warrant based on an informant's signal that criminal activity is taking place inside. DECIDED

Bartlett v. Strickland Decided

Voting Rights

8/1/2008 - Whether minority voters who are deprived of the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice when a state court rejects a legislative district where coalition building has been successful can assert a vote dilution claim under the Voting Rights Act, even if minority voters do not represent 50 percent of the population in the proposed district? DECIDED

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