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Top 10 U.S. Supreme Court Decisions From the 2013 Term

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

The U.S. Supreme Court's 2013 Term was full of surprises both in the public and private sectors. After the High Court's final opinions were released Monday, we had an opportunity to revisit some of this session's biggest cases.

Here are our picks for the Top 10 Supreme Court decisions from the 2013 Term, which began back in October:

  1. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. The Supreme Court typically saves the most controversial case for last, and Hobby Lobby was no exception. Closely held corporations like Hobby Lobby can now refuse to comply with Obamacare's contraceptive mandate, potentially leaving some employees to pay for birth control out of pocket.

  2. Cell Phone Searches (Riley v. California and U.S. v. Wurie). On the issue of cell-phone searches upon arrest, the Supreme Court erred on the side of privacy. Police can still seize your smartphone when they arrest you, but they'll typically need a warrant to search it.

  3. McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The High Court ostensibly expanded speech via political contributions (i.e., money) by striking down the cap on aggregate campaign donations for individuals.

  4. Abramski v. United States. A federal law preventing purchasers from buying a gun just to gift it to someone else (called a "straw purchase") was upheld.

  5. U.S. v. Castleman. The High Court upheld another gun law, this time preventing domestic violence convicts from possessing a firearm even if the conviction had no evidence of physical abuse.

  6. Town of Greece v. Galloway. Based on the tradition of legislative prayers, the Supreme Court upheld sectarian prayers at town hall meetings, despite the effect it may have on citizens not of that faith.

  7. Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. The Supreme Court took another stab at affirmative action by upholding a Michigan law which barred its use in the state. For now, it's up to each state to decide to employ race-conscious policies.

  8. Hall v. Florida. A Florida law that allowed executions for those with borderline IQs was struck down as a violation of the Eighth Amendment.

  9. Paroline v. United States. The "Amy" cases involved a child-pornography victim receiving restitution from the persons who possessed copies of her digital child-porn image. The Supreme Court determined there must be proximate cause for "Amy" to collect money from these convicts, and struck down a multimillion-dollar award.

  10. American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo. A company that allowed subscribers to watch over-the-air live TV on their mobile devices was in violation of federal copyright law, the High Court held. Some suspect this decision will limit live TV broadcasts from reaching mobile devices for the near future.

What impactful cases are set for the Court's next term? As mentioned in our legal professional blogs, The Nine have already agreed to hear cases involving the Truth in Lending Act and a deportation for drug-paraphernalia possession, among others. Stay tuned.

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