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Supreme Court, Back in Action

Monday, October 1, 2007

Supreme Court, Back in Action

Chief Justice John G. Roberts officially kicks off his third term at the helm of the Supreme Court this week. Today -- also the official publication date of Clarence Thomas's memoir "My Grandfather's Son" -- oral arguments will begin with questions on Washington state's primary system and special education reimbursement. Here's the schedule for the week:

MONDAY

Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party

and Washington v. Washington State Republican Party

Can Washington state allow primary voters to pick general-election opponents based solely on which two candidates get the most votes and not on party affiliation?

Voters approved that system in 2004, but it was never implemented because of court challenges. Successful lower-court challenges contend that this type of primary violates the First Amendment right of free association.

New York City Board of Education v. Tom F.

In this case concerning a parent's right to private special-education reimbursement, the Board of Education is arguing that the city should not have to fund private placement for a child who never received public services.

TUESDAY

Gall v. United States

At question in the first of two drug-related cases the court will hear is the "reasonableness" of Gall's federal sentence from a guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute ecstasy. The sentence was below the range of U.S. sentencing guidelines.

Kimbrough v. United States

Considered one of the major cases the court will hear this term, at issue is the sentence Derrick Kimbrough received for pleading guilty to federal crimes related to the distribution of crack cocaine. His district court sentence was below federal sentencing guidelines for determining prison time; at issue is the discretion judges may use in sentencing. The guidelines, which call for harsher sentences for crack cocaine offenses than for crimes involving powder cocaine, have been criticized for disproportionately harming black defendants.

WEDNESDAY

New York State Board of Elections v. Lopez Torres

A challenge to New York's system of conventions to select lower-level judges that some say is overly controlled by party bosses.

Representing the New York State Board of Elections is Theodore B. Olson, whom President Bush considered naming as his new attorney general. But Michael B. Mukasey got the nod when concerns were raised about how Olson would fare in confirmation proceedings.

United States v. Santos

A consideration of the definition of "proceeds" under federal money-laundering law, the case asks whether "proceeds" means all money made from unlawful activities or only the profits.

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