Five Supreme Court rulings

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: It’s Tuesday, the 2nd of April, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up, five rulings from the Supreme Court.

A Missouri man on death row lost his case (Bucklew v Precythe) in a split 5-to 4-ruling. Russell Bucklew argued his medical condition renders lethal injection cruel and unusual punishment.

Bucklew in 1996 killed a man, tortured two women, shot at a child, and wounded an officer in a jealous rampage. In the latest round of appeals, Bucklew’s lawyers argued his medical problem could cause him to choke on his own blood during execution.

But Justice Neil Gorsuch read from the bench that “…the Eighth Amendment does not guarantee a prisoner a painless death—something that, of course, isn’t guaranteed to many people, including most victims of capital crimes.”

The justices were split along ideological lines, with conservative-leaning justices in the majority.

BASHAM: Next, victory for the moose-hunter in Alaska (Sturgeon v Frost) who wants to use his hovercraft on a river in a national preserve.

The opinion was unanimous. Justice Elena Kagan wrote the ruling, wishing John Sturgeon good hunting.

REICHARD: Also, a setback for victims of the USS Cole bombing (Republic of Sudan v Harrison). An 8-to-1 ruling tosses a multi-million dollar judgment against Sudan due to insufficient notice of the litigation.

Sudan provided support to al-Qaeda, a group that claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 17 sailors. The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act requires notice of litigation be sent to Sudan’s foreign ministry in Khartoum.

Victims may still pursue the case once proper notice is made.

BASHAM: And the case of an investment banker (Lorenzo v S.E.C.) who knowingly emailed misrepresentations to investors. He did so at the request of his boss, but the majority justices found that though he didn’t create the false statement, he still intended to defraud others. That made him part of a fraudulent scheme under federal securities law.

Justice Stephen Breyer foreshadowed the eventual ruling during oral argument in December:

BREYER: But it seems pretty bad … . Maybe he didn’t make the statement, but he was sure a big deal participant.

This was a 6-to-2 ruling. Justice Kavanaugh recused himself because he was involved in the lower court case.

REICHARD: Finally, the case (Biestek v Berryhill) that asked whether a vocational expert has to reveal the underlying data used to reach her conclusion. This, in a social security disability case. Answer? No. That’s a 6-to-3 ruling.

And those are the rulings from the past week.

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) The Supreme Court building is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 26, 2019. 

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