SCOTUS Busy Today

The Supreme Court issued three rulings today, the most significant one being Shelby v. Holder, in which the Court addressed the constitutionality of the Voter Rights Act of 1965.  In a 5-4 decision the Court struck section 4 of the act.  Section 4 which contains a preclearance formula that enables the Federal Gov’t (dep’t of justice) to identify those state and local governments that must comply with the statutes’s preclearance procedures.  Preclearance requires nine states (including Arizona)  to receive federal permission to change election laws and districts.   In the majority opinion Chief Justice Roberts wrote “Coverage today is based on decades-old data and eradicated practices,”… “The formula captures states by reference to literacy tests and low voter registration and turnout in the 1960s and early 1970s.  But such tests have been banned nationwide for over 40 years. … And voter registration and turnout numbers in the covered states have risen dramatically in the years since.”

The Court also issued rulings in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, in which the issue was whether a non-custodial parent can invoke the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 to block an adoption initiated by a non-Indian parent and whether the statute defines “parent” to include a biological father who has not complied with state law to attain legal status as the parent.  The Court in a 5-4 opinion, reversed and remanded to the Supreme Court of South Carolina.  Curiously the dissent included Scalia, Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Kagan.

Lastly, the Court issued a ruling in Knootz v. St. Johns River Management District, limiting any State or local government’s ability to impair property interest with land use regulations.

Tomorrow is the final day of the session in which the Court is expected to issue rule on Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8.