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Prior Cases

Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona involved a challenge to Arizona’s Proposition 200, which required citizens seeking to register to vote in federal elections to provide documentary proof of citizenship.  Plaintiffs argued that Proposition 200 violated the National Voter Registration Act, which requires that states “accept and use” the Federal Form for mail-in voter registration, a form that requires an individual to attest under penalty of perjury that he or she is a citizen but does not require documentary proof of citizenship.   The Ninth Circuit, sitting en banc, held that Arizona’s requirement was pre-empted by the NVRA.  The Supreme Court granted Arizona’s petition for a writ of certiorari.

On March 26, 2012, CAC filed a brief in the Supreme Court in support of the federal government. As we explained in our brief, Arizona’s controversial law, which seeks to supplant the federal government in enforcing immigration laws in Arizona, is in direct conflict with the text of the U.S. Constitution, the document’s drafting history, and its federalist structure.  Congress’ constitutional power to make a “uniform rule of naturalization” is one of the few places where the Constitution makes absolutely clear that the federal government’s power is exclusive. 

On June 27, 2011, in an ideologically divided, 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down Arizona’s campaign finance law, designed to combat corruption in Arizona’s elections, as an unacceptable restriction on free speech, in violation of the First Amendment. But as Justice Elena Kagan noted in her dissent, the conservative majority’s decision “is in tension with broad swaths of our First Amendment doctrine.”

On April 27, 2011, the sharply divided Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 decision in favor of AT&T. Ruling against their professed commitment to federalism, the Court's conservative Justices decided to support a remarkable expansion of pro-corporate federal arbitration rules that help shield corporations from liability in federal and state courts. As CAC explained in our brief, the Court's conclusion is contrary to both the text of the Federal Arbitration Act and the text of the Supremacy Clause. 

On May 24, 2012, the Supreme Court handed down a 6-3 decision upholding Arkansas' ruling that the Double Jeopardy Clause did not prevent the state from retrying Blueford on charges that the jury in his first trial unanimously rejected, relying on the fact that the jury deadlocked on a lesser-included offense.  

On May 25, 2011, CAC filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court in support of the petition for a writ of certiorari in Blueford v. Arkansas. The petitioner has asked the Court to hear the case to decide whether the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, permits the government to subject a criminal defendant to a second trial for the same serious charges of which a jury has acquitted him, simply because the jury deadlocked on a lesser-included offense.

On September 3, 2009, the D.C. Circuit granted the parties’ joint motion to voluntarily dismiss the petitions for review.  The case had originally been filed after the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) blocked California’s auto emissions standards by refusing to grant the State a waiver of federal preemption under the Clean Air Act. But after the election of President Obama in 2008, the EPA reconsidered that granted the waiver of federal preemption requested by the State of California and supported by CAC.

On June 8, 2009, the Supreme Court released its opinion in Caperton v. Massey, a case raising the question of whether the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause requires an elected state judge to recuse himself when a litigant appearing before him has made substantial contributions to the judge’s election campaign.

Chaidez v. United States was an important case raising the question of whether the protections against constitutionally deficient assistance of counsel applied in the Supreme Court’s Padilla v. Kentucky ruling apply retroactively.  In Padilla, in which CAC filed a brief, the Court, as CAC had urged, held that a lawyer’s misadvice as to the deportation consequences of a guilty plea fell below the standards of effective assistance of counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.

On July 23, 2012, CAC filed brief on our own behalf as well as on behalf of habeas scholars in the Supreme Court supporting petitioner Roselva Chaidez in her appeal of the violation of her constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. 

Disappointingly, on February 20, 2013 the Supreme Court handed down a 7-2 decision holding that Padilla did create a new rule, and that Ms. Chaidez and others convicted prior to that decision would not benefit from its protections from inadequate counsel.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor echoed CAC’s argument in her dissent, writing, "Padilla did nothing more than apply the existing rule of Strickland v. Washington in a new setting, the same way the Court has done repeatedly in the past: by surveying the relevant professional norms and concluding that they unequivocally required attorneys to provide advice about the immigration consequences of a guilty plea."

Read coverage of the case featuring analysis from CAC’s Elizabeth Wydra here.

On July 31, 2009, CAC filed a brief with the League of Women Voters of the United States, explaining that the text and history of our Constitution make clear that campaign expenditures by corporations can be subject to greater regulation than expenditures by individuals. In a special session on Thursday, January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United, reversing the judgment of the D.C. Circuit Court.