The Supreme Court's 2007-2008 term began on October 1, 2007 and ended on June 26, 2008. The term, which featured far fewer contentious 5-4 rulings than the 2006-2007 term, still offered up its share of landmark decisions.
Relevant Text: Second Amendment
The Big Question: Does the District of Columbia's ban on the possession of handguns violate the individual right to bear arms?
The Big Answer: Yes. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court struck down a law on Second Amendment grounds for the first time in U.S. history. The majority ruling, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, breaks new ground by finally establishing a clear Second Amendment doctrine.
Relevant Text: Military Commissions Act
The Big Question: Can non-citizen enemy combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay appeal to U.S. federal courts on constitutional grounds?
The Big Answer: Yes. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court held that non-citizen enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay may challenge their detention in court.
Baze v. Rees
Relevant Text: Eighth Amendment
The Big Question: Does execution by lethal injection, as it is currently practiced today, constitute cruel and unusual punishment?
The Big Answer: No. In a 7-2 ruling, the Court held that use of the three-drug lethal injection cocktail does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling effectively ended a national moratorium on lethal injection that began with the botched Florida execution of Angel Diaz in December 2006.
Snyder v. Louisiana
Relevant Text: Fourteenth Amendment
The Big Question: Did prosecutors violate a black defendant's right to due process by excluding the only black jurors from a jury pool under suspicious circumstances?
The Big Answer: Yes. In a 7-2 ruling, the Court held that a Louisiana prosecutor's successful attempt to create an all-white jury by excluding black jurors--most egregiously, excluding an otherwise available and uncompromised black college student on the basis that he "appeared nervous"--violated the equal protection clause.
United States v. Williams
Relevant Text: First Amendment
The Big Question: Can the government prosecute individuals for offering to sell or trade illegal child pornography, even if the defendants don't actually have any?
The Big Answer: Yes, in a 7-2 ruling.
Kimbrough v. United States
Relevant Text: Antidrug Act of 1986
The Big Question: Laws banning the possession and distribution of cocaine impose a 100-to-1 sentencing ratio for crack versus powdered cocaine. May a judge who disagrees with this policy depart from federal sentencing guidelines when handing down a sentence?
The Big Answer: Yes. In a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court held that judges may offer up more lenient sentences in cases where they feel that it is warranted.