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Supreme Court agrees to hear broadcast indecency, Confrontation Clause cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday agreed to hear eight cases [Order List, PDF], including FCC v. Fox Television Stations (07-582) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], where the Court will review a June 2007 ruling [JURIST report] by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit which vacated [opinion, PDF] a determination [FCC order] by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] that two Fox Television broadcasts violated the FCC's indecency and profanity prohibitions. The appeals court ruled that the FCC's "fleeting expletives" standard "represented a significant departure from positions previously taken by the agency and relied on by the broadcast industry," and violated the Administrative Procedure Act [text] because the FCC failed to articulate a reasoned basis for its change in policy. The two alleged indecency violations were unscripted expletives uttered during the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards. When the case is heard in the fall, it will mark the Court's first major examination of broadcast indecency in 30 years. AP has more.

The Court also agreed to hear Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (07-591) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], a case presenting the issue of whether the Confrontation Clause [LII backgrounder] as set forth in Crawford v. Washington [opinion] requires that a forensic expert who prepared a lab report testify at trial as to his methods or whether prosecutors can present the report at trial without requiring its author to be available for live testimony. AP has more.

The Court also granted certiorari in Bartlett v. Strickland (07-689) [docket; cert. petition, PDF] in which it will consider whether a racial minority group that comprises less than 50 percent of a district's population can file a vote dilution claim under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 USC § 1973 [text]. The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled [opinion, PDF] that the Act only applies to districts where the minority population constitutes 50 percent or more of voters. AP has more.

The Court also agreed to hear Waddington v. Sarausad (07-772) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], in which it will consider whether a ruling [PDF text] by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit correctly overturned the murder conviction of a driver in a 1994 Seattle drive-by shooting on the grounds of incorrect jury instructions on accomplice liability. AP has more.

In Negusie v. Mukasey (07-499) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court will consider whether an Eritrean man who was forced against his will into military service in his home country during a war between Eritrea and Ethiopia and made to participate in persecution can be denied asylum for those actions.

In Vaden v. Discover Bank (07-773) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court will consider whether federal courts have jurisdiction in a lawsuit seeking to enforce an arbitration agreement under state law.

In Jimenez v. Quarterman (07-6984) [docket], the Court will consider whether the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit correctly allowed an appeal by an inmate seeking an extension to file a federal habeas corpus challenge, after he had been denied review in state courts.

Finally, in Oregon v. Ice (07-901) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court will consider whether it is unconstitutional for a judge to order a man to serve consecutive rather than concurrent sentences for burglary and sex offense convictions when a judge rather than a jury determined that the crimes arose out of separate offenses. SCOTUSblog has more on all of Monday's cert. grants.

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