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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET


Lee Ross

Supreme Court


Supreme Court This Week

April 18, 2010 - 7:53 AM | by: Lee Ross

This is shaping up to be a big week at the Supreme Court. There are a pair of interesting cases on Monday. We are also expecting opinions later in the week and there are some high profile cases (animal cruelty video/desert cross/life sentences for juveniles) that could come down. Also, Tuesday marks the 90th birthday for Justice John Paul Stevens. Here’s a look at the four cases the justices will hear:

Case: Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

Date: Monday April 19, 2010

Issue: Does the Constitution allow a state law school to deny recognition to a religious student organization because the group requires its officers and voting members to agree with its core religious viewpoints?

Officials at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law refused to grant official recognition to the Christian Legal Society chapter based on its conclusion that the CLS Statement of Faith violated the school’s nondiscrimination policy. In short, the university argues CLS does not allow gays to become voting members and therefore will not give official recognition (and the privileges that come with it) to the CLS students.

Those students filed a lawsuit in an attempt to force the school to grant recognition. So far they have been unsuccessful and now argue to the Supreme Court that the school is violating their First Amendment rights.

The case is essentially identical to one Judge Diane Wood—an Obama high court short-lister–ruled on in 2006. In that case she sided with officials at Southern Illinois University who refused to sanction a CLS chapter on its campus. To learn more about Wood’s dissent and the current case before the Court click…act-obama-pick/

Case: City of Ontario v. Quon

Date: Monday April 19, 2010

Issue: A decision in this case could impact every American worker who uses a computer, blackberry or text messaging device whether for innocent messages to loved ones or sexually-charged texts to a mistress.

A final ruling from the justices may establish guidelines on how far the right to privacy covers personal e-mail messages and other communications that workers send or receive on their employer-issued devices.

Sergeants Jeff Quon and Steve Trujillo were part of the Ontario, California SWAT team who received a pager device that could be used to send text messages. Officials with the police department, located 35 miles east of Los Angeles, believed the pagers would help expedite internal communications.

Several months after the pagers were issued, Quon’s boss asked for a read-out of his messages. As it turned out, most of Quon’s texts were not work related. “To say the least, [the messages were] sexually explicit in nature,” observed Judge Virginia Phillips. The majority of Quon’s personal messages went to his estranged wife, his office girlfriend and Trujillo.

A key issue in the case will be how the justices interpret a standard the high court created in 1987 that focuses on the “operational realities of the workplace.” The Ninth Circuit concluded that the excess cost arrangement was a sufficient reality in the police department that when Quon’s boss gained access to the messages, he violated Quon’s right to privacy.

“The Ninth Circuit properly found that the search was excessively intrusive,” Quon’s lawyer, Dieter Dammeier, wrote to the Supreme Court in asking the justices to uphold the lower court’s decision. For more on the case click

Case: Dolan v. United States

Date: Tuesday April 20, 2010

Issue: Does a convicted felon have to pay restitution to his victim even though the order for the amount was entered after the deadline requiring notification expired? Brian Russell Dolan was convicted of assault after beating up a friend and ordered to pay $105,559.78 of his victim’s medical expenses. Various delays resulted in the restitution order coming more than 90 days after Dolan was sentenced to nearly two years behind bars. He claims that delay was excessive and beyond the time allowed by law, but the trial court and the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals disagreed. His case is now before the Supreme Court.

Case: Krupski v. Costa Crociere, S.P.A.

Date: Wednesday April 21, 2010

Issue: Wanda Krupski of Michigan tripped over a camera cable and broke her leg while on a cruise ship. She filed a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages from the Italian cruise line. But her lawsuit was tossed for not filing within the one year statute of limitation deadline. Krupski had originally and mistakenly filed suit against the booking agent rather than the cruise line.

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