It's SCOTUS Season: Springtime And The Supremes
Curtis Flowers is approaching 50. He’s been tried for a quadruple murder not once, not twice, but six times. Now, he’s sitting on death row in Mississippi’s Parchman prison.
And the Supreme Court heard his case. But they won’t decide on whether Flowers, a black man, committed murder or not.
What they are debating is whether Mississippi prosecutor Doug Evans violated the Batson rule in composing the juries for these trials — asking if Evans used his preemptive strikes to remove potential jurors because they were black.
Flowers’ case was covered in intimate, and sometimes excruciating, detail by the APM podcast In The Dark..
Flowers’ case isn’t the only one making headlines. NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg wrote recently about a decision in which conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch and liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg agreed. The case involved “the Yakama Tribe and its right under an 1855 treaty to travel the public roads without being taxed on the goods brought to the reservation.”
More from Totenberg:
The issue before the court on Tuesday centered on the Yakama Indian Nation and one of its members who owns a wholesale fuel company, Cougar Den Inc., that imports large amounts of gasoline from Oregon to gas stations on the Yakama reservation in Washington state.
Washington imposes a per-gallon tax on those who import large amounts of fuel from out of state, using public highways. The state had assessed taxes of more $3.6 million on Cougar Den. The company and the tribe objected, contending that the taxes were barred by an 1855 treaty agreement between the Yakama Nation and the U.S. government.
On Tuesday, five justices agreed. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote one opinion for three members of the court — himself and Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
Gorsuch wrote a concurring opinion for himself and Ginsburg using somewhat different reasoning. But the heart of the case was the meaning of the 1855 treaty that guaranteed the Yakamas the right to travel on all public highways.
Some other cases SCOTUS has worked on recently include…
- “Supreme Court says government has broad authority when detaining some immigrants”
- The case of Lee Malvo, the DC sniper, who was 17 at the time of his crime. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole but is now appealing his sentence based on a recent ruling that limited life sentences for juvenile offenders.
We check in with The Supreme Court.
Produced by Morgan Givens.
Edith Roberts, Editor, SCOTUSblog; former clerk for Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Brianne Gorod, Chief counsel, Constitutional Accountability Center; @BrianneGorod
Samara Freemark, Senior producer, APM’s “In the Dark” podcast; @sfreemark
For more, visit https://the1a.org.
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