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U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court’s Docket: Less Meaty but Possibly Filled with More Dishes

Posted Oct 6, 2008 10:20 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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As the U.S. Supreme Court begins its term today, one story describes the docket as less meaty than usual, while another says the number of cases heard by the end of the term could be at a 10-year high.

The New York Times pronounces this year’s intellectual feast of cases as “less filling” than usual. The story says two of this year’s more colorful cases involve “significant but perhaps not momentous First Amendment issues.”

One case asks whether the Federal Communications Commission may fine broadcasters for celebrities’ unscripted use of expletives during live TV appearances. Another considers whether a Utah city can ban a religious group known as Summum from displaying its “seven aphorisms” in a park where the Ten Commandments are displayed.

The most significant cases of the term involve pre-emption. One of the cases, Altria Group v. Good, will be argued today, SCOTUSblog reports. It asks whether a federal cigarette labeling law pre-empts state tort claims against the makers of light cigarettes.

McClatchy Newspapers says the cigarette and other corporate cases before the court “may not sound sexy, but they can be crucial for companies and consumers alike.” At least 16 business cases are among the 41 or so accepted so far for argument.

Legal Times reports that the court may decide more cases this term than it has in a decade. It identifies a “potentially major case” as Ashcroft v. Iqbal, which seeks to hold former Attorney General John Ashcroft personally liable for the mistreatment of a Pakistani held as a person of high interest after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Bloomberg News, meanwhile, focuses on a case that could narrow the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The appeal by a convicted bank robber claims his crew was a "loosely affiliated clique of friends” while the law requires the criminal enterprise to have an "ascertainable structure."

The ABA Journal also published an article previewing the court’s term in the October issue.

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