U.S. Supreme Court

Law
3:41 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Judge opens door for Michigan juvenile lifers

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state laws that allow juveniles to be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.
US Supreme Court

DETROIT (AP) - A federal judge says all Michigan inmates serving no-parole sentences for murder committed as juveniles are entitled to a chance at release.
 
Judge John Corbett O'Meara says a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down mandatory no-parole sentences applies retroactively to Michigan inmates already behind bars.

O'Meara's decision Wednesday trumps a ruling last fall by the Michigan appeals court, which said retroactivity would not apply for most.

Politics & Government
7:04 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Michigan Attorney General asks U.S. Supreme Court to decide affirmative action ban

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette wants the U.S. Supreme Court to decide on the state's affirmative action ban.
US Supreme Court

State Attorney General Bill Schuette is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Michigan’s ban on affirmative action.

Schuette filed to submit the case to the land’s highest court Thursday.

Last month, a lower court threw out a voter-approved state ban on affirmative action.

Joy Yearout is a spokesperson for the attorney general.

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Education
5:48 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Will minority enrollment increase after federal court ruling?

A 2006 BAMN rally in Lansing against Proposal 2. The proposal was passed by Michigan voters that November.
BAMN

On Thursday, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Michigan’s 2006 constitutional ban on affirmative action unconstitutional.

Some argue that the ruling will have a major impact on minority enrollment at the state’s public universities.

Monica Smith, a lawyer opposed to the affirmative action ban, began attending Wayne State Law School a year before it took effect, MLive reports.

The following year, the number of incoming black students was cut in half, Smith says.

She thinks this recent court ruling should transform the admissions process:

"This means a lot to me," said Smith. "This means that my brother, my cousins, other people in Detroit, the Latino and black students can go to Wayne State Law School and Medical School."

"I graduated from the University of Michigan. I graduated from Wayne State Law School. My brother graduated from Michigan State University. All because of affirmative action," she said. "I am 100 percent a product of affirmative action. Not because I'm not 100 percent qualified to be there. But because all three of those universities couldn't discriminate against me or my brother or other similarly situated people."

Despite yesterday’s victory, Smith and other opponents of the ban will have to wait before they see any significant changes.

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Law
6:01 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

Juvenile lifer ruling requires authorities to track down victims

There is some question on the reach of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down automatic life-without-parole sentences for juveniles.

Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office says it may only apply going forward and not to the 366 juvenile lifers currently serving in Michigan prisons.

Dawn Van Hoek directs the State Appellate Defender Office, which represents some of the juvenile lifers. She disagrees and said every juvenile sentenced to life without parole should get a new hearing.

“I think they’ve already signaled, the Supreme Court has, and, you know, you have to wonder why even bother if you’re not going to apply it to the hundreds of people who were affected nationwide by these unconstitutional laws,” said Van Hoek.

That would also require the state to track down the families of murder victims who have a right under Michigan law to testify at sentencing hearings.

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Law
3:30 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Supreme Court upholds almost all of health care law, what's next for Michigan?

Some states want the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the Asian carp fight.
US Supreme Court

Update 3:30 p.m.

The battle over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act doesn't end with today's Supreme Court ruling that upheld almost all of the law.

It now moves to November's election, as the Twitterverse shows:

[View the story "Debate over healthcare law moves to November" on Storify]

1:55 p.m.

In the lead-up to today's Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, Michigan Speaker of the House Jase Bolger (R- Marshall) insisted on waiting to to set up a health care insurance exchange in the state until the ruling came down, despite the governor's wishes to move forward with establishing a statewide exchange.

In a statement released today, Bolger expressed his disappointment in SCOTUS' decision, but also that the state house plans to create a health insurance exchange.

He said:

"I could not be more upset that the Supreme Court has upheld this massive attack on Michigan’s working-class families and mandates for insurance coverage that citizens have repeatedly objected to. I am mad and disappointed, but we remain committed to fighting for Michigan’s future...

"We will work with Gov. Snyder and the state Senate to see that Michiganders have access to healthcare that is marketplace-driven and provides competition, transparency and common sense options.

"Having the state establish a healthcare exchange is not something we wish to do, but we cannot stand idly by and hand over our citizens’ healthcare to an overreaching federal bureaucracy. We will focus on putting people first and protecting them from this massive tax increase on Michigan’s working families.”

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Politics
1:30 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Congressman Dingell: “I know my father who started this fight is smiling from up above"

Michigan Democratic Congressman John Dingell
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy Flickr

It’s no doubt a historic day for Michigan Congressman – and the U.S. State of Representative’s longest serving member – John Dingell with today's U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the federal Affordable Care Act.

As NPR’s Julie Rover noted in a story on Dingell in 2009:

“Dingell's quest for universal health care began in 1932, when his father, John Dingell Sr., was first elected to the House from Michigan. The elder Dingell quickly became one of the architects of the New Deal… In 1943, the elder Dingell, along with Senators Jim Murray of Montana and Robert Wagner of New York, introduced the first national health insurance bill. The so-called Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill was fought over for years, though it never became law. And when the elder Dingell died in 1955, John Dingell Jr. took over not only his father's seat, but also his quest for national health insurance.”

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Law
4:47 pm
Mon June 25, 2012

State laws allowing life sentences without parole for juveniles unconstitutional

The U.S. Supreme Court
User kconnors MorgueFile.com

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning struck down state laws that allow juveniles to be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. The ruling says life without parole for crimes that occurred when a felon was younger than 18 is excessive and violates the Eighth Amendment.

Michigan is one of several states that allowed juveniles to be sentenced to life without parole. The state has more than 350 people in state prisons serving life without parole for crimes committed as juveniles.

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Law
10:29 am
Mon June 25, 2012

Supreme Court rules life without parole for juveniles unconstitutional

U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders violates the Constitution's Eighth Amendment (the ban on cruel and unusual punishment).

The ruling has big ramifications on Michigan. The state has one of the highest populations of juvenile offenders serving life sentences---358 out of about 2,500 nationwide.

The ACLU sued the state of Michigan back in 2010. Their press release at the time said the United States is the only country in the world that sentences young people to life without the possibility of parole:

....and Michigan incarcerates the second highest number of people serving life sentences without parole for crimes committed when they were 17 years old or younger. Currently, there are 350 individuals serving such mandatory life sentences in Michigan.

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court drew from two previous cases---one banning the death penalty for youth offenders and the other outlawing life without parole for juveniles in non-homicide cases.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the majority, said that those previous cases establish that "chil­dren are constitutionally different from adults for sentencing purposes. Their 'lack of maturity' and 'underdeveloped sense of responsibility'  lead to recklessness, impulsivity, and heedless risk-taking."

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Crime
1:15 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Supreme Court cases could determine the fate of Michigan's youngest criminals

Andrew Bardwell wikimedia commons

Michigan has one of the country's highest numbers of "juvenile lifers"---prisoners sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for crimes committed as minors---359 total.

That includes six who were only 14 when they committed their crimes.

These numbers come from an in-depth report from John Barnes at MLive.com.

Barnes profiled those six, including TJ Tremble, who has spent half his life, 14 years, in a state prison following a murder conviction. Tremble has no hope of release because of a mandatory life sentence.

Now, for the youngest of young offenders at least, there could be a path toward release. That's because of a pair of upcoming U.S. Supreme Court cases involving young offenders.

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Law
10:52 am
Wed October 5, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court to hear case involving Michigan church today

Arguments involving a church in Michigan will be heard today in the U.S. Supreme Court.
wikimedia commons

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case between the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Redford, Michigan and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

At issue, according to the SCOTUS blog (SCOTUS stands for the Supreme Court of the United States) is whether the U.S. government can be involved in church activities. From the blog:

Courts have generally believed that federal employment discrimination statutes do not apply to church employees performing religious functions. The question is whether this ministerial exception applies not simply to religious leaders, but also to teachers at a religious elementary school.

The Associated Press has more on the arguments from the church school employee:

Cheryl Perich got sick, then tried to return to work. Still, the school, now closed, fired her. She complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which sued the church.

Religious groups say the case should be thrown out. The Americans With Disabilities Act has an exception to prevent government involvement between churches and ministerial employees.

But a federal appeals court said Perich’s job as a teacher was secular, not religious, so the exception blocking the lawsuit didn’t count.

Politics
5:53 pm
Mon February 28, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court rules on Michigan case

U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a murder conviction in the case Michigan v. Bryant.

The case involved a Detroit man who identified his shooter as the victim lay dying, and whether or not that evidence could be considered in court.

A Wayne County jury convicted Richard Bryant of murder based on the victim's statement. But the Michigan Supreme Court overturned that conviction, saying Bryant was denied his constitutional right to confront his accuser.

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