PUBLISHED:October 07, 2014

Duke Law and the 2014-2015 Supreme Court term

The U.S. Supreme Court opened the October 2014 term by deciding not to review appellate court rulings regarding same-sex marriage, making those unions legally permissible in five states immediately and paving the way for legalization in six more states in short order.

North Carolina, where a successful 2012 referendum outlawed same-sex marriages, is among the states where change seems imminent, said Neil Siegel, David W. Ichel Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science, co-director of the Program in Public Law, and director of the D.C. Summer Institute on Law and Policy.

“The decisions of the lower courts in those cases—which invalidated state bans on same-sex marriage in Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, and Oklahoma—will go into effect,” Siegel said.  “The result is that same-sex marriage will now be permissible in those states and in other states with similar bans in the Fourth, Seventh, and Tenth federal judicial circuits.  Because North Carolina is in the Fourth Circuit, federal courts in North Carolina are now legally obliged to declare Amendment One unconstitutional."  

Siegel, who has focused much of his recent research and scholarship on same-sex marriage and on the Affordable Care Act, has been a frequent public commentator on the Supreme Court.

In addition to their contributions to the public discourse on the Supreme Court, Duke faculty members have co-authored amicus briefs in two cases pending before the high court.

Law professors Neil Vidmar, a leading jury expert, and Lisa Kern Griffin, a former federal prosecutor, co-authored a brief in Warger v. Shauers. The case, scheduled for argument on Oct. 8, involves the admissibility of testimony from one juror regarding another juror lying during the jury selection process.

Several members of the faculty, including professors Samuel Buell, Deborah DeMott, James Cox, and Ernest Young, and visiting assistant professor Ann Lipton, co-authored an amicus brief in the securities fraud case Omnicare, Inc. v. Laborers District Council Construction Industry Pension Fund. That case hinges on whether or not, for the purposes of a claim under the Securities Act, an “untrue” statement requires the speaker to believe something other than the opinion expressed. That case is scheduled for argument on Nov. 3.

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