U.S. Supreme Court

News: Aug 24 - 30

Aug 30, 2019

Democratic State Representative Michael Saba discusses new ways to bring money into South Dakota. Rosebud and the Fort Belknap Indian Community have sued President Trump for violating treaties. South Dakota parents, educators and health officials are facing a four-year gap in data about risky youth. A Sanford Health researcher talks vaping. Hemp crop insurance is on the way despite Governor Noem’s opposition.

Franz Jantzen, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

The U.S. Supreme Court is now deliberating whether it should amend or overrule its Quill opinion. That 1992 decision holds that Congress has the constitutional authority to regulate commerce among the states. And absent congressional action, states can't force businesses with no physical presence in the state to collect state sales taxes.

The U.S. Supreme Court has postponed South Dakota's attempt to get out-of-state vendors to collect sales taxes. The high court set the case on its conference calendar last Friday, with orders made public on Monday, Jan. 8.

A spokeswoman for the state Attorney General's office says the case will go to conference again next Friday, with an outcome to be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

Victoria Wicks

Drunk-driving laws have been on the books for more than a century. But after all those years of legislation and case law, the bugs still haven't been worked out.

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the opinion in Missouri v. McNeely. The court ruled that before compelling a blood test, law officers at routine stops have to get consent or a warrant. That changed procedures that had been in place nationwide for almost 50 years.

And it invalidated parts of states' implied consent laws, including South Dakota's.

Supreme Court Split On Native Court Jurisdiction

Jun 27, 2016
Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

A recent Supreme Court case involving tribal sovereignty ended in a tie. The Dollar General Corp. v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians ruling has implications for Natives and non-Natives.

Paul Dean Jensen was serving life without parole for the murder and kidnapping of Mike Hare when the U.S. Supreme Court gave Jensen a second chance. The inmate was 14 years old when he committed his crimes. He was tried as an adult, and under South Dakota law at the time, his life sentence was mandatory. He spent almost 20 years in prison, and then his sentence was reconsidered at a hearing in Fort Pierre, held on Thursday and Friday last week.

Photo courtesy of SD Attorney General

Prison inmates who committed murder while juveniles have a chance to escape their mandatory sentence of life without possibility of parole. The U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision this week that Miller v. Alabama is retroactive, and so inmates convicted before that 2012 decision can now ask for a reduced sentence. Justices say states can offer parole eligibility to the affected inmates and avoid a new trial or sentence hearing. In South Dakota, only one inmate, Paul Dean Jensen, is affected.

Photo courtesy of Lindsey Riter-Rapp

A state prison inmate convicted of second-degree murder while he was still a juvenile is appealing his case to the South Dakota Supreme Court. Oral arguments, first scheduled to be heard in December, have been continued to Jan. 13.

On the murder conviction, Braiden McCahren was sentenced about a year ago to 25 years, with 15 suspended. If he had been convicted of the same charge prior to 2012, he would have faced a mandatory life sentence without possibility of parole.

Victoria Wicks

At the end of June, the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case known, for short, as Obergefell. Some say that decision has changed the definition of marriage. But others say marriage is marriage, and the high court declared it a constitutional right for all citizens. Now states can’t discriminate—they have to offer the legal status to couples regardless of sexual orientation. But religious leaders and legal scholars agree that ministers, priests, rabbis, and other religious officiants will never be forced to bless these legal unions.

Photo courtesy of Madia Law

Protections for gay and lesbian people are rare in federal law, but a recent administrative decision might open a door. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently ruled that discrimination against a gay male employee was sex discrimination. A civil rights attorney says, if federal courts latch onto that definition, same-sex oriented people could have protections in the same way as people who claim discrimination on the basis of gender.

Chynna Lockett SDPB

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

In 2006, voters in South Dakota approved an amendment making same-sex marriage illegal in the state. But following the high court’s ruling, state attorney general Marty Jackley said that same-sex marriage is now the law in state. Many couples were issued marriage licenses hours after the ruling and got married over the weekend.

Scenarios for Same-Sex Rulings by State

Jun 24, 2015


A recent U.S. Supreme Court case has prompted Attorney General Marty Jackley to ask for a law allowing prosecutors to appeal certain sentences. Senate Bill 15 gives the state options when a judge re-sentences a juvenile convicted of murder and imposes a sentence lighter than life without parole.

When offenders are convicted, they can be ordered to pay for a victim’s losses. Those dollar amounts can add up. The U.S. Attorney in South Dakota says his office collected $3.4 million in fiscal year 2014, with two-thirds of that amount coming from criminal cases. If a congressional act passes, people viewing child pornography could be held financially responsible to a greater extent.

Photo by Chris Wilson

People who view child pornography are watching rape, and a legal advocate says every time that image is viewed, the child is raped again. A recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion says current federal law doesn’t allow that child victim to seek restitution for the full amount of damages from each convicted criminal involved in pornography. But SDPB’s Victoria Wicks explores a Congressional act that might change that.

Earlier this week the United States Supreme Court turned away appeals from states whose bans on same-sex marriage have been overturned by lower courts. The Supreme Court left standing three federal appeals court decisions that found states’ bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Creighton Law Professor Michael Fenner tells SDPB’s Victoria Wicks that the issue seems to be working itself out politically, and the high court likely wants to let it continue to do so.

Prayers before public meetings do not violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, according to a U.S. Supreme Court decision issued Monday, May 5. Five justices agree that the primarily Christian prayers offered before city meetings in Greece, New York, do not establish a preferred religion if they are not conducted in a coercive manner. Justices also cite a long tradition of prayers before public meetings.

The South Dakota Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments challenging the state’s blood-draw protocols in DUI arrests. In April the United States Supreme Court ruled that officers have to get a search warrant before drawing blood when a traffic stop is routine. But the state says drivers consent to a warrantless search when they get a drivers license. SDPB’s Victoria Wicks talks with defense and prosecution lawyers.

The United States Supreme Court heard arguments last week regarding prayer before public meetings. It’s a complicated topic, pitting various First Amendment rights against one another. Depending on the outcome of this case, the Rapid City Common Council could face a lawsuit for its invocation practices. For today’s Dakota Digest, the fourth in a five-part series, SDPB’s Victoria Wicks distills the Supreme Court arguments.

On April 17, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling that could invalidate a South Dakota law allowing forced blood draws without a warrant from DUI arrestees. Defense attorneys say the recent ruling could reveal implied consent to be unconstitutional. But the Attorney General says any change in South Dakota’s implied consent law is up to the courts and the legislature. For today’s Dakota Digest, SDPB’s Victoria Wicks explores the ramifications of the high court’s decision in Missouri v. McNeely.