Supreme Court rulings

NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Thursday, the 27th of June, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. The Supreme Court handed down three opinions yesterday.

First (Haymond v United States), the court struck down a federal law dealing with registered sex offenders. A judge sent Andrew Haymond back to prison for violating the terms of his supervised release. And among those terms, he was required not to possess child pornography. But the judge imposed additional jail time for that violation without a jury and without finding guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

As Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the five-justice majority: “Only a jury acting on proof beyond a reasonable doubt may take a person’s liberty.” The four liberal justices joined in that opinion. Justice Alito wrote a blistering dissent, joined by the other three conservative justices.

EICHER: Next (Kisor v Wilkie), the court upheld a long standing judge-made rule. It requires judges to defer to government agencies’ interpretation of their own regulations. The justices put limits on the doctrine, but did not overturn it outright.

Here, the Veterans Administration approved disability benefits for a veteran 24 years after first denying them. But the agency would not apply the benefits retroactively. That’s because of the way the agency interpreted the word “relevant” in its regulations. 

The justices sent the case back to lower court to consider whether the regulation at issue was truly ambiguous and then to apply the court’s new limits.

REICHARD: And finally (Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Assn. v Thomas ), Tennessee can no longer require people applying for a liquor license first to live in the state. That violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, a majority of seven says, and discriminates against out of state interests.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) The empty courtroom is seen at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington as the justices prepare final decisions of the high court’s term, Monday, June 24, 2019.

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