Tag Archives: Supreme Court

CRS Reports on the Supreme Court Appointment Process

Judge Neil Gorsuch was sworn in today as the Supreme Court’s 113th justice.  If you are interested in learning more about the Supreme Court appointment process, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has several good reports.  A recent report, Supreme Court Appointment Process: President’s Selection of a Nominee, includes information on the criteria for selecting a nominee, the advice and consent role of the Senate, the political aspects of the process, and the use of recess appointments to temporarily bypass Senate confirmation.  For a more detailed account of the Senate’s role, the following CRS reports may also be of interest:

For more information on finding CRS reports online, see this blog post from the University of Houston’s O’Quinn Law Library.

The Supreme Court Crafts a New Standard in Pregnancy Discrimination Cases – Young v. UPS

On March 25, 2015, the Supreme Court handed down Young v. United Parcel Service and set forth a new standard making it easier for a female employee to establish discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act [42 U.S.C. 200e(k)] (“PDA”).  The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which amended Title VII in 1978, explicitly provides that discrimination “because of sex” or “on the basis of sex” includes discrimination on the basis of “pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”

The Young case arose when UPS offered light-duty accommodations to disabled and injured employees but not to pregnant employees.  Young alleged this policy violated the PDA.

In Young, the Court did not go as far as to say that employers must accommodate pregnant workers whenever they accommodate non-pregnant workers.  What the Court did say is, whenever different accommodations are provided to similarly situated pregnant and non-pregnant workers, the employer must determine whether there is any legitimate reason for the disparate treatment. If no legitimate reason exists, then the employer has discriminated on the basis of pregnancy in violation of the PDA.  Even when the employer is able to articulate a neutral business rational for the different accommodations, the Court ruled that the pregnant worker must still be given the opportunity to show that the different accommodations impose a “significant burden” on pregnant workers that cannot be justified by the employer’s neutral rationale.

Going forward, the Young decision means that a pregnant worker will not be required to establish explicit discriminatory intent to prove a PDA violation.  Instead, under Young, it is sufficient for the worker to show that different accommodations offered to similarly situated pregnant and non-pregnant workers impose a “significant burden” on pregnant employees.


Supreme Court Website Gets A Makeover


This past Monday, the Supreme Court Website displayed a new and improved look.

According to their press release, the reorganized menu and new, horizontal format make navigating the site easier and more efficient. Some of the most frequently requested information will now be available directly on the site’s homepage, including the transcripts and audio for the most recent oral arguments, and information for planning a visit to the Court. Website users will notice enhanced images and graphics, improved search features and updated access on mobile devices.

The Supreme Court Website, , was launched on April 17, 2000, to make Court information available via the Internet to the Bar, the public, and the news media.

Secret Lives of the Supreme Court: A Book Review (Posted by Karen Schneiderman)

Secret Lives of the Supreme Court: What Your Teachers Never Told You About America's Legendary Justices/Robert Schnakenberg
Secret Lives of the Supreme Court: What Your Teachers Never Told You About America’s Legendary Justices
Robert Schnakenberg, KF8744 .S3 2009

Several years ago, I had the privilege of being sworn into the United States Supreme Court Bar. It was the day after Justice David Souter was mugged.

As watched the justices take their seats, I was reminded that the justices were mere humans. They rocked back and forth in their large imposing chairs, tapped their fingers impatiently, and in one case, I saw a justice, who shall remain anonymous, take a short nap.

The humanity and the humor of the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) is captured in Robert Schnakenberg’s latest book, Secret Lives of the Supreme Court: What Your Teachers Never Told You About America’s Legendary Justices.

Schnakenberg exposes these wizards behind the bench. For example, in Secret Lives, we learn that Sandra Day O’Connor created the court’s first Jazzercise class; Thurgood Marshall was hooked on soap operas; and that one of the justices was a member of the KKK. To learn more fun facts, just pick up this title at Brooklyn Law School Library.

While it is true that some SCOTUS historians have panned Schnakenberg’s book, they seems to assume that this title is intended to be “serious literature.”

This book might be just what aspiring lawyers and hard working law school professors need. Especially to prepare for the Senate’s upcoming debate and vote on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. I submit that this book is just the antidote: fascinating romp into the powerful halls of SCOTUS, filled with large doses of sophomoric humor. We all deserve a good laugh!

Robert Schnakenberg lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including Distory: A Treasury of Historical Insults, Sci-Fi Baby Names, Secret Lives of Great Authors, and The Encyclopedia Shatnerica—the world’s first A-to-Z guide to the life and career of William Shatner.