SCOTUS Begins New Year With Five Oral Arguments
The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court returned to the bench on January 8, 2018. The first week of oral arguments in 2018 included two original jurisdiction cases involving state disputes over water rights, two important Fourth Amendment cases, and one case about voter registration.
Below is a brief summary of the issues before the Court:
Texas v. New Mexico and Colorado: The original jurisdiction case involves a long-standing dispute between several states. The question the Court must ultimately decide is “whether New Mexico is in violation of the Rio Grande Compact and the Rio Grande Project Act, which apportion water to Rio Grande Project beneficiaries.”
Florida v. Georgia: In another case based on original jurisdiction, the Court must resolve a protracted water dispute between Florida and Georgia. The specific issue before the justices is “whether Florida is entitled to equitable apportionment of the waters of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin and appropriate injunctive relief against Georgia to sustain an adequate flow of fresh water into the Apalachicola Region.
Byrd v. United States: Under existing Fourth Amendment precedent, a police officer may not conduct a suspicionless and warrantless search of a car if the driver has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the car. The question before the justices in this case is whether a driver has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a rental car when he has the renter’s permission to drive the car but is not listed as an authorized driver on the rental agreement.
Collins v. Virginia: Under the “automobile exception” to the Fourth Amendment’s general warrant requirement, police may search a vehicle without a warrant if the vehicle is “readily mobile” and they have probable cause to believe that it contains evidence of a crime. The question currently before the Court is whether the Fourth Amendment’s automobile exception permits a police officer, uninvited and without a warrant, to enter private property, approach a home, and search a vehicle parked a few feet from the house.
Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute: This case involves the steps that States may take to maintain accurate voter-registration lists under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) and the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). These laws bar States from removing “the name of any person from the official list of voters registered to vote in an election for Federal office by reason of the person’s failure to vote,” but clarify that a State must remove a voter if the voter does not respond to a confirmation notice sent by the State and does not vote in the next two general federal elections. The question the justices must decide is: “Whether 52 U.S.C. § 20507 permits Ohio’s list-maintenance process, which uses a registered voter’s voter inactivity as a reason to send a confirmation notice to that voter under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002.”
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Preamble to the Bill of Rights
Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.