Mondays At The Court With Roberts

Monday was a busy day for the Supremes, that is the nine justices of the US Supreme Court. The end of this session is nearing. While June will be when they reveal their really big decisions, May starts with slow drips of the final deliberations on some of the “less important” considerations, or not.

Supreme Court puts brakes on police searches of rental cars

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday limited the ability of police to search rental cars driven by someone other than the person who signed the rental agreement, shoring up privacy rights behind the wheel.

The nine justices unanimously threw out a lower court ruling that had approved of a search by Pennsylvania police of a Ford Fusion driven by Terrence Byrd, whose girlfriend had rented the car. State troopers told Byrd they could search the car because he was not listed as an authorized driver, and they found heroin and a bulletproof vest in the trunk.

Writing for the court, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the “mere fact that a driver in lawful possession or control of a rental car is not listed on the rental agreement will not defeat his or her otherwise reasonable expectation of privacy.”

At issue was whether police violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The justices sent the case back to the lower courts to determine whether police had the proper justification to search the car without a warrant because they believed there was evidence of a crime. Byrd pleaded guilty in 2014 to unlawful possession of both items on condition that he could challenge the search.

US Supreme Court strikes down federal ban on sports gambling

The US Supreme Court on Monday overturned a ban on sports gambling in 46 of the union’s 50 states, paving the way to legalize a business worth tens of billions of dollars annually. Obviously, this decision will be welcomed by a lot of people, however, there are still others who aren’t convinced about the legalization of gambling. For many, they worry about the foreign gambling operators taking over the US market (read more about this at However, others seem to think that this won’t be a problem. Regardless of this, it seems that, due to the Supreme Court’s decision, sports gambling will be legalized.

In its decision, the nation’s top court ruled 6-3 in favor of New Jersey’s government that for years has lobbied for the right to organize sports wagering in its eastern state, whose economically down-on-their-luck casinos are concentrated in the gambling mecca Atlantic City. Many in this region are already placing bets thanks to Free MLB Picks online, so bringing the money back to the city is seen as a positive option.

Members of the highest US bench in Washington declared unconstitutional the 1992 law, which banned betting on professional sports and university teams except in four states where the market was already in place – Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. This means that many who have been using sites like ?? (or “Bounce”) can now choose to go to establishments in their own states, though many will likely remain on these sites due to the ease of use.

Congress had enacted the legislation – championed by then-senator Bill Bradley, a Democrat and former star basketball player – on the grounds that gambling would threaten the integrity of sporting events.

Chris Christie, New Jersey’s brash former Republican governor, had launched the prolonged battle against the law.

At the time now US President Donald Trump, then a real estate magnate, fought against the ban in a bid to save his hotels and casinos in Atlantic City from financial ruin.

US Supreme Court throws out Louisiana death row inmate’s conviction

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday threw out a Louisiana death row inmate’s conviction for a 2008 triple murder, finding that his lawyer violated the man’s constitutional rights by ignoring his objections and telling jurors the defendant killed the victims.

The court ruled 6-3 that Robert McCoy, 44, should receive a new trial. McCoy was convicted of killing the mother, stepfather and son of his estranged wife in Bossier City, Louisiana. All were shot in the head at close range.

The legal question was whether McCoy’s right to legal representation at trial under the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment was violated.

Supreme court rejects appeal from Blackwater guards convicted of killing Iraqi civilians

The supreme court has refused to consider appeals by the former Blackwater security contractors convicted in the 2007 slaying of 14 Iraqi civilians at a crowded traffic junction in Baghdad that marked one of the lowest points in the bloody conflict.

The court announced on Monday that it will not hear an appeal brought by the four men convicted in 2014 trial. They worked for the North Carolina-based private security firm then called Blackwater Worldwide that was contracted by the US government to provide security to US officials working in Iraq.

One of the men, Nicholas Slatten, is going to be retried, beginning 11 June, after an appeals court in Washington DC ruled last summer that he should have been tried separately from his three co-defendants. [..]

Three of the men, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard, were convicted in 2014 of manslaughter and other charges at trial in Washington and sentenced to 30 years in prison apiece. Nicholas Slatten was convicted of murder and given a life sentence.

In August 2017 an appeals court threw out Slatten’s conviction and ordered his retrial. He is expected to argue that he did not fire first. The other men were ordered to be resentenced because 30 years was deemed too long, and a date has yet to be set. Blackwater has been sold and renamed.

There are more to come. Stay tuned.