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Court strikes down Chicago handgun ban; rules on patents, SOX and 1st Am

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment right to bear arms as established in D.C. v. Heller extends to the states and municipalities. That means Chicago’s handgun ban is in peril as the case is remanded back to the lower courts to decide whether the ban unduly infringes on citizens’ Second Amendment rights.

In the 5-4 ruling, four justices held that the right is incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendment, while a single justice – Justice Clarence Thomas -held that the Privileges or Immunities Clause makes it applicable to the states.

Alito wrote the majority opinion in McDonald v. City of Chicago. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a dissent, as did Justice Stephen Breyer, whose opinion was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor.

That was the first of the final four cases of the term handed down this morning.

In Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, the Court upheld a law school’s “all comers” policy under which the school denied benefits to a student group that excluded gays and requires all members to share its beliefs. The Court ruled only that the “all comers” policy was reasonable, declining to rule on the school’s nondiscrimination policy as a whole. The majority opinion in the 5-4 ruling is by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In Bilski v. Kappos the Court held that the “machine-or-transformation test” is not the sole test for patent eligibility under the Patent Act, and also that business methods are not categorically excluded from patent eligibility.

And in the final opinion of the term, the Court held in Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Bd. that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act violates the Constitution’s Appointments Clause because of the limitation placed on the President for removing members of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

In addition to its four major rulings, the Supreme Court has agreed to consider next term whether Arizona’s other immigration law- which targets businesses that hire undocumented workers by revoking their business licenses – is constitutional.

The Court granted certiorari in the case U.S. Chamber of Commerce v. Candelaria, one of six cases the Court agreed to take up.

In another, the Court will decide whether a district court had the power to decide that an employer’s conversion of an employee retirement plan to a cash-balance plan didn’t constitute age discrimination under ERISA. That case is Cigna Corp. v. Amara.

Much more on all these developments to come on this blog and on Lawyers USA online.

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