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Surpeme Court hears arguments on veterans benefits, exclusionary rule

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] Monday on small business owners' veterans benefits and the suppression of evidence under the exclusionary rule. Kingdomware Technologies v. United States [transcript, PDF] deals with the rights of small-business-owning veterans to receive benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) [official website]. In 2006 Congress passed a bill that states the VA "shall" award contracts to veteran-owned small businesses if at least two such businesses bid on the work at a fair price. The question before the court is if the term "shall," as used in the legislation, requires the VA to award the contracts to the veteran-owned business, or if that decision is discretionary. Kingdomware [corporate website], an information technology firm owned by service-disabled Army veteran Timothy Barton, argues that the VA has an obligation to seek veteran-owned businesses, while the VA rebuts that it need only consider them in the scope of what is best to achieve its business goals.

In Utah v. Shrieff [transcript, PDF] the Supreme Court is tasked with determining whether the exclusionary rule applies to an unlawful stop that leads to a warrant check and search incident to arrest. In 2006 Salt Lake City police received a tip for suspicious drug activity occurring at a house. The police went to the house and saw Edward Shrieff leaving the house to go to a convenience store. Upon leaving the house, officers stopped Shrieff and asked for identification. Upon running Shrieff's information, the police found an outstanding warrant for Shrieff's arrest and arrested him outside the house. The officer then conducted a search incident to arrest and found methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia on Shrieff's person. Shrieff argues that the evidence found on his person should be excluded under the Fourth Amendment because the initial stop was illegal and led to evidence that was "fruit from the poisonous tree." The Utah Supreme Court ruled in favor of Shreiff, finding the initial stop to be illegal. Monday's arguments marked the first since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia [JURIST report] earlier this month.

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