On May 23, 2011, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Brown v. Plata (formerly Schwarzenegger v. Plata). The question in this case was whether a court order requiring California to reduce its prison population, in order to remedy unconstitutional conditions in its correctional facilities, violated the Prison Litigation Reform Act.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Kennedy and joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, the Court held by a vote of 5-4 that the lower court order requiring California to reduce its prison population was authorized by the Prison Litigation Reform Act and "necessary to remedy the violation of prisoners' constitutional rights." Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion that was joined by Justice Thomas, and Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion that was joined by Chief Justice Roberts.
To discuss the case, we have Sarah Hart, who is a prosecutor in Philadelphia. Ms. Hart is on an amicus brief in support of the appellants.