[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday began its 2008 term [calendar, PDF], in which it has agreed to hear cases involving pre-emption of state law, the separation of church and state, and broadcast indecency, among other issues. The Court began hearing oral arguments Monday with Altria Group v. Good (07-562) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], presenting the question of whether the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act bars state lawsuits based on allegedly deceptive cigarette advertising.
Other prominent cases on the court's docket so far include:
- Winter, et al. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., et al. (07-1239) [docket; cert. petition], to be argued Wednesday, where the Court will review a Ninth Circuit ruling rejecting the Bush administration's attempt to exempt the US Navy from environmental laws [JURIST reports] so that the Navy could continue using sonar in its anti-submarine warfare training off the coast of southern California.
- Ysursa v. Pocatello Education Association (07-869) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], scheduled for argument on November 3, in which the Court will consider whether certain sections of the Idaho Voluntary Contributions Act [text] unconstitutionally abridge labor unions' free speech rights as related to payroll deductions for political activities.
- Wyeth v. Levine (06-1249) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], also scheduled for argument on November 3, in which the Court will consider whether Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [official website] approval of a drug's warning label protects its manufacturer from liability when a patient has a bad reaction to the drug that forces her arm to be amputated.
- FCC v. Fox Television Stations (07-582) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], to be argued November 4, where the Court will review a decision that the FCC violated the Administrative Procedure Act [text] by failing to articulate a reasoned basis for its change in policy on the broadcast of "fleeting expletives."
- Pleasant Grove City v. Summum (07-665) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], set for argument on November 12, in which the Court will consider whether a private, religious group can donate a monument for display in a public park.
- Philip Morris USA v. Williams (07-1216) [docket; cert. petition], to be argued December 3, where the court will for a third time consider a $79.5 million punitive damages verdict against Philip Morris USA [corporate website]. The Court previously ruled [JURIST report] that the punitive damages award based "in part on [a jury's] desire to punish the defendant for harming persons who are not before the court" amounts to an unconstitutional taking of property without due process.
Before hearing oral arguments Monday, the Court issued an 82-page order list [PDF text] in which it took on no new cases. It summarily disposed of seven cases, dismissing two appeals for lack of jurisdiction and granting certiorari in five cases that it remanded to lower courts for consideration in light of decisions from last term. The court took no action in two capital cases: Davis v. Georgia (08-66) and Kelly v. California (07-11073) [dockets]. Last week, the Court announced [JURIST report] that it had agreed to add 10 cases to its docket. Of those, seven implicate issues of criminal law and two deal with the rights of Native peoples, while a consolidated case involves liability for remediation of hazardous waste sites.