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This Week on First Street: First 2012 Supreme Court Opinions

By Robyn Hagan Cain on January 10, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It was a busy day at First Street, with both oral arguments and the first round of 2012 Supreme Court opinions.

In addition to hearing arguments in Knox v. Services Employees International Union and FCC v. Fox Television Stations, the Court released opinions in four cases today.

While they may be known as the Nine, the Justices agree with Count von Count that eight is great; each of the cases resulted in 8-1 decisions.

  • CompuCredit Corp. v. Greenwood. In an opinion by Justice Scalia, the Court ruled that the Credit Repair Organizations Act is silent on whether claims under the Act can proceed in an arbitrable forum, therefore the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) requires a credit card arbitration agreement to be enforced according to its terms.
  • Gonzalez v. Thaler. SCOTUS affirmed the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, finding that the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty certificate of appealability (COA) requirement is a mandatory, but not jurisdictional, rule. A COA’s failure to indicate a constitutional issue does not deprive a Court of Appeals of jurisdiction to adjudicate the appeal.
  • Minneci v. Pollard. The Court reversed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, declining to allow a federal prison inmate to pursue a claim against a private prison contractor under the Eighth Amendment rather than state tort law.
  • Smith v. Cain. The Court overturned Juan Smith’s conviction for five murders based on the prosecution’s failure to disclose exculpatory evidence that the eyewitness who identified Smith initially told detectives that he could not identify the perpetrators. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, noting that the witness identified Smith from a photo lineup, saying, “This is it. I’ll never forget that face.”

If these four Supreme Court opinions have whetted your appetite for more, you won’t have to wait long for more: SCOTUSblog expects at least one more decision will be released on Wednesday, January 11.

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