Overview of the 2010 Supreme Court Term


The 2010 Supreme Court Term defined itself as pro-business, conservative and sensitive to any claim that the government was using its power to censor unpopular speakers or speech.

Supreme Court Ends Pro-Business Term With Important First Amendment Rulings »

ACLU Summary of the 2010 Supreme Court Term »

Supreme Court Cases

Abdullah al-Kidd v. United States, et al. Decided


1/15/2015 - The Fourth Amendment prohibits the arrest of criminal suspects without probable cause to believe they have committed a crime. Yet after 9/11, former Attorney General John Ashcroft and the U.S. Department of Justice implemented a policy of misusing the federal “material witness” statute to detain Muslim men for investigative purposes without probable cause to believe that they’d committed any crime. Pursuant to this policy, our client, Abdullah al-Kidd, a Kansas-born U.S. citizen and former football player at the University of Idaho, was arrested on a material witness warrant in 2003 and imprisoned without charges for 16 days, ostensibly because the government wanted his testimony in someone else’s criminal case.  He was never called to testify and never criminally charged.

NASA v. Nelson Decided


11/15/2012 - Whether the government may require Caltech employees working under contract at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in "low-risk" and "non-sensitive" jobs to disclose, among other things, information about medical treatment and psychological counseling that they may have received in connection with illegal drug use.

Wal-Mart v. Dukes Decided


6/20/2011 - Whether this sex discrimination case against Wal-Mart should be allowed to proceed as a class action.

J.D.B. v. North Carolina Decided

Criminal Justice

6/17/2011 - Whether a child’s age may be considered as part of the totality of circumstances in determining whether a suspect is in custody and must therefore be given Miranda warnings prior to any police interrogation.

Flores-Villar v. United States Decided


6/13/2011 - Whether the government may constitutionally make it more difficult for citizen fathers than citizen mothers to transmit citizenship to their out-of-wedlock children born outside the U.S.

Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting Decided

Immigrants' Rights

5/26/2011 - (formerly Chamber of Commerce v. Candelaria) Whether an Arizona law imposing severe sanctions on employers who hire immigrants that the state believes are unauthorized to work in the United States, and requiring employers to participate in a federal employment verification program that the federal government made voluntary, is pre-empted by the carefully calibrated and comprehensive scheme that the federal government has enacted to regulate immigration.

Brown v. Plata Decided

Prisoners' Rights

5/25/2011 - Whether a federal court appropriately exercised its authority by ordering the State of California to reduce the size of its prison population, which was more than double the system’s intended capacity, after dozens of remedial orders had failed for more than a decade to ensure that California prisoners received constitutionally adequate medical and mental health care.

Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn Decided

Establishment Clause

4/4/2011 - Whether Arizona’s use of tax credits funneled through state-certified and state-supervised non-profits to award student scholarships based on religious criteria and for use in religious schools violates the Establishment Clause.

Borough of Duryea v. Guarnieri Decided

Right to Petition

1/24/2011 - Whether the First Amendment's guarantee of a right to petition the government for redress of grievances protects a public employee against retaliation for bringing an employment-related lawsuit against his public employer.

Turner v. Rogers Decided

Due Process

1/1/2011 - Whether an indigent parent facing imprisonment for failure to pay child support is entitled to appointed counsel?

Fox v. Vice Decided

Attorneys' Fees

12/29/2010 - Whether a defendant can recover attorney's fees under a federal fee-shifting statute absent a showing that the entire lawsuit is frivolous and, if so, whether the defendant must at least show that any frivolous claims are factually distinct from non-frivolous claims.

FCC v. ATT Decided

Freedom of Information Act

11/16/2010 - Whether a provision of the Freedom of Information Act designed to protect "personal privacy" applies to corporations.

Snyder v. Phelps Decided

Free Speech

10/6/2010 - Whether funeral protestors who demonstrate on the public streets and in conformity with local law can be held liable for damages because a jury concludes that their speech was "outrageous."

Cullen v. Pinholster Decided

Criminal Justice

9/24/2010 - Whether the federal courts properly granted habeas corpus relief to the death row inmate in this case after concluding that the state courts had unreasonably rejected his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association Decided

Free Speech

9/15/2010 - Whether a California law prohibiting the sale of "violent video games" to minors violates the First Amendment.

Thompson v. North American Stainless, LP Decided


9/10/2010 - Whether the anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII protect an employee who alleges that he was dismissed because his fiancée filed a sex discrimination claim against the employer with the EEOC.

Milner v. Department of the Navy Decided

Freedom of Information Act

9/9/2010 - Under what circumstances may a federal agency withhold documents sought under the Freedom of Information Act on the ground that they relate "solely to the internal personnel rules and practices" of the agency?

Connick v. Thompson Decided

Criminal Justice

8/16/2010 - Whether someone who spent 14 years on death row before his murder conviction was overturned because the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence can recover damages from the prosecutor’s office on a theory that it failed to train its staff regarding their constitutional obligations.

Sossamon v. Texas Decided

Religious Freedom

8/1/2010 - Whether the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, which was designed in part to protect the religious rights of prisoners, allows prisoners to sue a state for money damages when a state violates those religious rights.

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