Supreme Court Notebook

Court overturns Calif. slaughterhouse law

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has blocked a California law that would require euthanizing downed livestock at federally inspected slaughterhouses to keep the meat out of the nation's food system.

The high court on Monday agreed that the state's 2009 state law should be blocked from going into effect.

California barred the purchase, sale and butchering of animals that can't walk and required slaughterhouses to immediately kill non-ambulatory animals. But justices said unanimously that the law encroached on federal laws that don't require immediate euthanizing.

California strengthened regulations against slaughtering so-called "downer" animals after the 2008 release of an undercover Humane Society video showing workers abusing cows at a Southern California slaughterhouse. Under California law, the ban on buying, selling and slaughter of "downer" cattle also extends to pigs, sheep and goats.

High court: warrant needed for GPS tracking

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that police must get a search warrant before using GPS technology to track criminal suspects.

The GPS device helped authorities link Washington, D.C., nightclub owner Antoine Jones to a suburban house used to stash money and drugs. He was sentenced to life in prison before the appeals court overturned the conviction.

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia said that the government's installation of a GPS device, and its use to monitor the vehicle's movements, constitutes a search, meaning that a warrant is required.

"By attaching the device to the Jeep" that Jones was using, "officers encroached on a protected area," Scalia wrote.

All nine justices agreed that the placement of the GPS on the Jeep violated the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

Scalia wrote the main opinion of three in the case. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor.

Sotomayor also wrote one of the two concurring opinions that agreed with the outcome in the Jones case for different reasons.

Justice Samuel Alito also wrote a concurring opinion in which he said the court should have gone further and dealt with GPS tracking of wireless devices, like mobile phones. He was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.

A federal appeals court in Washington had overturned Jones's drug conspiracy conviction because police did not have a warrant when they installed a GPS device on his vehicle and then tracked his movements for a month. The Supreme Court agreed with the appeals court.

The case is U.S. v. Jones, 10-1259.

The Free Legal Aid Clinic (FLAC) will hold its winter fundraiser on February 9th, at Opus One, 565 East Larned Street, Detroit 48226. The event runs from 5:30-8:30 p.m. and includes a silent auction. Tickets are $50 and include food and refreshments, including wine, beer, and soda.

Since 1965, FLAC has assisted Wayne County's elderly and indigent residents free of charge. Working with Lakeshore Legal Aid and The Elder Law & Advocacy Center, Wayne State University Law School students, operating under the supervision of skilled supervising attorneys, litigate family law issues such as custody, child support, and divorce, and help elderly residents draft life planning documents and deal with fraud and identity theft.

As one of the last student run free legal aid organizations in the country, Wayne Law students working at FLAC gain valuable practical legal skills involving both casework and the business of running a law firm. They also benefit from the knowledge that FLAC helps assist hundreds of Wayne County's most vulnerable individuals every year.

All proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward furthering FLAC operations. To purchase tickets or donate items for the silent auction, please contact Gabrielle Saitz at

For more information about this event, please contact Rebecca McNulty at 586-873-8437, or at

Published: Tue, Jan 24, 2012


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