U.S. Supreme Court

Florida's "water war" with Georgia is not over. The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that more legal briefs will be filed in the case, including allowing Florida to contest a special master's report that recommended a ruling in Georgia's favor. If the full amount of time is taken to file the briefs, it could extend a decision by the nation's highest court into late June.

Boats rest on a dock in the Apalachicola Bay
Jason Tereska / WFSU News

Georgia is wrapping up its case this week in a nearly 30-year-old water fight with Florida and Alabama. The so-called water wars centers on consumption in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River system shared by the states.

Antonin Scalia's death leaves a void in many ways, but the most immediate effect will be on the outcome of several major cases pending before the Supreme Court.

Scalia's absence means some of these cases may result in 4-4 tie votes in the weeks and months just ahead. In that event, the rulings made by lower courts will be allowed to stand. Court observers have been scrambling to assess which of the pending cases in the current term are most likely to wind up in ties.

scales of justice
Blogtrepreneur / http://www.blogtrepreneur.com/media-justice/

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled Florida’s system for sentencing people to death is unconstitutional.

Gay marriage rulings
MGN Online

The U.S. Supreme Court says it will decide whether same-sex couples nationwide have a right to marry under the Constitution. The decision by the high court to take up the case has supporters and opponents of gay marriage excited.

Wally Gobetz

The U.S. Supreme Court says Florida isn’t doing enough to ensure the prisoners it executes aren’t suffering from mental disabilities. Florida officials use an IQ test to help identify a person’s mental acuity. Under the state law, a person who scores above a 70 on that test could be executed. But Seth Waxman, who is representing Freddie Hall, a Florida death row inmate in the case, says the state’s rules are too ridged.

USACE

A long-simmering dispute over water continued this week as Georgia filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing Florida’s request for a hearing.  But the feud is more complex than it may at first seem.

Florida minority rights groups are joining a national campaign calling for a federal constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote. The move comes in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Supreme Court struck down the part of the Voting Rights Act requiring the federal Justice Department to preapprove voting laws in several, mostly southern, counties and states, including five counties in Florida.  That didn’t sit well with minority rights activists.

Jessica Palombo

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down two landmark decisions Wednesday – both by 5-4 votes. 

The Court first struck down the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.  Next, it vacated a lower court’s decision on California’s Proposition 8.  While this latter decision didn’t set up marriage as a civil right, it does clear the way for gay marriages to resume in California. 

Florida Representative Linda Stewart said the decisions are good news for the movement as a whole, but supporters of gay marriage in Florida have plenty of work ahead.

Five Florida counties needing pre-clearance from the federal government to change their voting laws won’t undergo that review any more. That's after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional.

Gay Rights Group Launches New Campaign

Jun 19, 2013

Florida advocacy group Equality Florida is launching a new campaign to legalize same-sex marriage. Group members say the first step is to get more members of the public on board.

The “Get Engaged” campaign will use a combination of merchandising, social media and outreach to create a public push to get Florida’s ban on same-sex unions removed from the state constitution. 

Associated Press/Alex Brandon

After hearing oral arguments about the constitutionality of key provisions in the Voting Rights Act, Wednesday, it’s now up to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether the law should stick around.  

Police Can Search If Dog Smells Drugs, High Court Says

Feb 20, 2013

A police dog’s sniff is reason enough for officers to search a person’s car or house, according to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court’s ruling reverses a Florida Supreme Court decision about a traffic stop in Liberty County.

Liberty County Officer William Wheetley was stopping a man in 2006, when Aldo, his German shepherd, indicated he smelled drugs. Wheetley searched the vehicle and arrested the man for having meth-making ingredients. But the Florida court had ruled the evidence should be suppressed because the dog’s sniff was not probable cause for a search.

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Florida is scheduled to execute a convicted murderer, after an appeals court vacated his execution stay on Monday. But, the man’s lawyers say he is too insane to be killed, and they’ve filed an emergency request for a stay with the U.S. Supreme Court.

John Ferguson was convicted of killing eight people in the Miami area in the 1970's. But, his lawyer, Ben Lewis, says, Ferguson’s long-documented mental illness makes it unconstitutional to execute him.

Update 8:46 pm: A sampling of statements on the Supreme Court's ruling:

From Governor Rick Scott:

The fate of President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare law is now up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices are beginning to weigh the merits of an historic three days’ worth of testimony for and against the Affordable Care Act. Lynn Hatter reports Florida had a front-row seat to the proceedings, as the state led 25-others in challenging the law.

After more than two years, dozens of lower-court hearings and legal wrangling, the Florida-led challenge to the federal healthcare overhaul has reached its final destination: The U.S. Supreme Court:

The Federal healthcare overhaul law turns two years old this week, right before it heads to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Justices will hear a Florida-led challenge to the law. Lynn Hatter reports Florida’s Attorney General says she’s ready to go to court.

The state claims the federal healthcare law’s requirement that most people get insurance is unconstitutional. Florida officials are also contesting the requirement that states insure more people under Medicaid or lose federal funding. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says she’s ready for her day in court: