U.S. Supreme Court

Essential Pittsburgh: Evaluating the Supreme Court's Rulings

Jul 1, 2015
Mark Fischer / flickr

The 2014-2015 Supreme Court session has come to a close. Among the issues the justices have weighed in on are historic decisions on health care and same-sex marriage. However, there were also other cases regarding housing discrimination and lethal injections. Our legal contributor Pitt Law Professor David Harris looks at the rulings the justices have made and how they will impact our lives.  Harris explains the ruling of the recent lethal injections case decided by the Supreme Court: 

"This was the argument made by opponents of the use of that drug that it is cruel and unusual because the people being executed are experiencing pain. The Supreme Court says no there is nothing cruel or unusual about using this particular drug cocktail and they legitimized execution this way by all the states that want to do it." -David Harris

Also in the program, Heinz History Center President Andy Masich describes the background of the iconic Rosie the Riveter and to mark the beginning of July, FreeBurgh highlights fun and inexpensive events this month in the Pittsburgh area.

Supreme Court Rules Against EPA Power Plant Mercury Limits

Jun 29, 2015
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

The Supreme Court ruled Monday against the Obama administration's attempt to limit power plant emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants, but it may only be a temporary setback for regulators.

The justices split 5-4 along ideological lines to rule that the Environmental Protection Agency failed to take cost into account when it first decided to regulate the toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired plants.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is applauding the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, but says state lawmakers should follow up by passing a law to protect people against discrimination based on their sexual or gender preference.

Wolf said in a statement Friday that the high court's 5-4 decision makes clear that "gay marriage" is now simply marriage and same-sex couples cannot be denied the pursuit of happiness.

Gov. Wolf Seeks State Authority Over Health Insurance Marketplace

Jun 2, 2015
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration said Tuesday it has formally applied to take over the operation of Pennsylvania's health insurance marketplace as the Democrat seeks a bulwark against the potential loss of health insurance subsidies for hundreds of thousands of state residents.

The Supreme Court: What cases will be heard this term?

Oct 9, 2014
David / Flickr

 

 

The 2014-2015 session of the Supreme Court began on Monday. The court wasted no time in making news by refusing to rule on same-sex marriage. There are a number of other issues on the docket including first amendment rights in the digital age and whether to hear a challenge to the affordable care act. The current term also marks John Roberts’ 10th year as chief justice. Joining us for an overview of the cases the Supreme Court could be ruling on is University of Pittsburgh Law Professor David Harris.

“We’re hoping that it will also obliterate the yellow arch that’s out in front of the building that houses Planned Parenthood.”

Helen Cindrich, executive director of People Concerned for the Unborn Child, is referring to the US Supreme Court’s decision Thursday declaring a Massachusetts law that establishes a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics violates protesters’ free speech rights.

The yellow semicircle outside the Planned Parenthood facility in downtown Pittsburgh marks the 15-foot buffer zone established by a 2006 city ordinance.

It’s uncertain what will happen to that the yellow semi-circle marking a 15-foot buffer zone outside Planned Parenthood’s downtown Pittsburgh location.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling Thursday striking down the 35-foot protest-free zones outside abortion clinics in Massachusetts, saying that law violates the First Amendment Rights of protesters.

But the question remains if the high court’s decision will have on Pittsburgh’s eight-year-old law.

A Lancaster County-based company is one of two family-owned businesses taking on the so-called “contraception mandate” in the federal Affordable Care Act. Oral arguments are set to begin Tuesday morning in the U.S. Supreme Court.

One of the central questions in this case is whether for-profit corporations exercise religious beliefs, and can therefore claim a religious exemption to a law.

Two companies, including Conestoga Wood Specialties, based in Lancaster County, object to a part of the health care law’s regulations, and they’re asking for a religious exemption.

The U.S. Supreme Court's New Term

Oct 14, 2013
University of Pittsburgh Law School

Although this new Supreme Court session may not feature blockbuster cases such as DOMA, Proposition 8 and "Obama Care," the court will be revisiting important cases dealing with campaign finance, abortion and affirmative action.

National Archives / wikipedia

Some people underestimate just how influential the Constitution of the United States has been to the world.

Constitution Day is September 17 and the US Constitution remains the key document used in deciding important Supreme Court cases. But University of Pittsburgh law professor, David Harris notes that the Justices have very different views on how the Constitution should be read.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

These topics air Thursday in the noon hour on 90.5 WESA

Supreme Court Decides on Same-Sex Marriage
Across the country people have been awaiting the Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act. Yesterday, the court handed down a landmark decision striking down the 1996 California law blocking federal recognition of gay marriage. The court is also allowing gay marriage to resume in California by declining to decide a separate case. Joining us to discuss these landmark decisions is Anthony Infanti professor of law and associate dean for academic affairs in the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and Gary Van Horn, President of the Delta Foundation.


As of earlier Tuesday afternoon, more than 300 people on Facebook said they are heading downtown Wednesday morning to catch live coverage of the Supreme Court’s rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 — two cases involving same-sex marriage.

Delta Foundation organizers are expecting an even larger crowd downtown.

“Liberty Avenue will be shut down to vehicle traffic between 9th and 10th because we’re expecting so many people,” said Christine Bryan with the Delta Foundation. “We’ll have a large television set up, and a stage and various speakers.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at Duquesne University Tuesday afternoon on topics ranging from his childhood in segregated Georgia to his 22-year tenure on the nation's highest court.

Thomas is the only black justice to serve on the Supreme Court after Thurgood Marshall. Thomas filled Marshall's vacated position on the bench.

Born in Pin Point, Ga. in 1948, Thomas said he grew up in a poor black community, but he was pushed toward academic success by his grandfather and the nuns at his Catholic school.