[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] in two cases. In Walker v. Texas Div., Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. [transcript, PDF] the court heard arguments on whether [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] the state of Texas violated the First Amendment rights of the Texas division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans [official website] when a state motor vehicles board turned down the group’s request to have a license plate made bearing the Confederate flag. The court also considered whether such license plates qualify as “government speech,” which the state would be allowed to control. The lawsuit has brought together several rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website], which believes [AP report] that the court should view license plates as a mix of private and government speech.
In City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan [transcript, PDF] the court heard arguments on whether [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] police violated a disabled woman’s rights under the Fourth Amendment and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) [official website]. Teresa Sheehan suffers from a mental illness and lived in a group home in San Francisco. After attempting attacks on her social worker and others in the home, the social worker called the authorities claiming that she was a danger to others in the home. Police arrived without a warrant and instead of waiting for backup when Sheehan became aggressive, they attempted to enter the room where Sheehan resided. She attacked the officers with a knife, and they were forced to shoot her. The court is considering [Oyez summary] whether her Fourth Amendment rights to be free from warrantless search and seizure have been violated when there is anticipated resistance of an armed and violent subject, as well as whether the ADA requires authorities to provide “accommodations” to a violent, armed and mentally ill person.