Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

It's SCOTUS Season: Springtime And The Supremes

(From L-R) US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, US Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, US Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, and US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh are seen ahead of US President Donald Trump's State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 5, 2019.
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
/
(From L-R) US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, US Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, US Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, and US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh are seen ahead of US President Donald Trump's State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 5, 2019.

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…


We check in with The Supreme Court.

Produced by Morgan Givens.

GUESTS

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.

© 2019 WAMU 88.5 – American University Radio.

Copyright 2021 WAMU 88.5. To see more, visit WAMU 88.5.

👋 Looks like you could use more news. Sign up for our newsletters.

* indicates required
New Orleans Public Radio News
New Orleans Public Radio Info