Lisa Soronen

Author Articles

The Supreme Court held unanimously in January in Holt v. Hobbs that an inmate’s rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Rights Act were violated when he was not allowed to grow a half-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs. This case will affect correctional institutions with no-beard policies and may provide lower court’s guidance in evaluating the act’s claims in the corrections and land use context. Grooming policies at the Arkansas Department of Corrections prohibit inmates who do not have a particular dermatological condition from growing beards. Gregory Holt’s request to grow a half-inch beard in accordance with his Muslim religious beliefs was denied.

The question the Supreme Court will decide in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores is simple:  who must ask about the need for a religious accommodation—the employer or the...

In 2012 in Miller v. Alabama the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that states may not mandate that juvenile offenders be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.  The question in Toca v. Louisiana was whether Miller is retroactive; that is, whether it should apply to those convicted before the case was decided. 

Toca has been dismissed as George Toca has been released from prison after pleading guilty to two counts of armed robbery in exchange for his murder conviction being vacated. ...

In City & County of San Francisco v. Sheehan the Supreme Court will decide whether, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), police must accommodate a suspect’s mental illness when arresting him or her.  The State and Local Legal Center’s (SLLC) amicus brief argues no because no conclusive evidence indicates that...

Same-sex marriage and an Affordable Care Act case heard in one Supreme Court term.  Does it get any bigger than this?  

The Court will decide whether it is constitutional for states to prohibit same-sex marriage and whether states may refuse to recognize same-sex marriages lawfully performed out of state.

While the Court refused to hear a number of cases presenting the same issues earlier in the term, these grants came as little surprise.  Between then and now the Sixth Circuit ruled that same-sex marriage bans are...

Has any Supreme Court denial been as big and as suprising as the Court not taking the same-sex marriage case?

For the six reasons Lyle Denniston describes on SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court’s announcement on Monday that it would not hear any of the seven petitions striking down same-sex marriage bans was stunning.  Even though there was no circuit split, conventional wisdom indicated the Court would decide the issue because...

In T-Mobile South v. City of Roswell the Supreme Court will decide whether a letter denying a cell tower construction application that doesn’t explain the reasons for the denial meets the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TCA) “in writing” requirement.  The State and Local Legal Center’s (SLLC) amicus brief argues it does.  This case will...

Even though the Supreme Court’s next term won’t officially begin until October 6, the Court has already accepted about 40 of the 70 or so cases it will decide in the upcoming months. 

For a more detailed summary of all the cases the Court has accepted so far affecting states, read the State and Local Legal Center’s Supreme Court Preview for State Governments.

Here is a quick highlight of what is on the Court’s docket right now that will...

In Comptroller v. Wynne the Supreme Court will determine whether the U.S. Constitution requires states to give a credit for taxes paid on income earned out-of-state. 

Forty-three states and nearly 5,000 local governments tax residents’ income.  Many of these jurisdictions do not provide a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for income taxes paid to other states on income earned out-of-state.  A decision against Maryland’s Comptroller in this case...

In Harris v. Quinn the Supreme Court held 5-4 that the First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from home health care providers who do not wish to join or support a union. 

Medicaid recipients who would otherwise be institutionalized may hire personal assistants.  In Illinois, the Medicaid recipient is the employer and is responsible for almost all aspects of the employment relationship.  But the personal assistant is a state employee for collective bargaining purposes.  A number of personal assistants did not want to join the union or pay it dues. 

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