SCOTUS Opinions: 6/26/2015
|Topics:||Federalism & Separation of Powers|
|Sponsors:||Professional Responsibility & Legal Education Practice Group|
(1) Obergefell v. Hodges: By a vote of 5-4 the judgment of the Sixth Circuit is reversed. Per Justice Kennedy's opinion for the Court: "These considerations lead to the conclusion that the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them. Baker v. Nelson must be and now is overruled, and the State laws challenged by Petitioners in these cases are now held invalid to the extent they exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite sex couples....It follows that the Court also must hold—and it now does hold—that there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character."
Justice Kennedy's majority opinion was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. The Chief Justice dissented, joined by Justices Scalia and Thomas. Justice Scalia dissented, joined by Justice Thomas. Justice Thomas dissented, joined by Justice Scalia. Justice Alito dissented, joined by Justices Scalia and Thomas.
(2) Johnson v. United States: By a vote of 8-1 the judgment of the Eighth Circuit is reversed and the case is remanded. Per Justice Scalia's opinion for the Court: "Under the Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984, a defendant convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm faces more severe punishment if he has three or more previous convictions for a 'violent felony,' a term defined to include any felony that 'involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.' 18 U. S. C. §924(e)(2)(B). We must decide whether this part of the definition of a violent felony survives the Constitution’s prohibition of vague criminal laws....We hold that imposing an increased sentence under the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act violates the Constitution’s guarantee of due process. Our contrary holdings in James and Sykes are overruled. Today’s decision does not call into question application of the Act to the four enumerated offenses, or the remainder of the Act’s definition of a violent felony."
Justice Scalia's majority opinion was joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. Justices Kennedy and Thomas filed opinions concurring in the judgment. Justice Alito dissented.
Related CasesObergefell v. Hodges
Johnson v. United States (2015)