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Court rules in NLRB, sexting, crack sentencing cases and more

In a ruling that could lead to the invalidation of hundreds of National Labor Relations Board rulings over a two-year period, U.S. Supreme Court ruled this morning that the Board requires at least three members in order to exercise its authority.

From January 2008 until March 2010, the Board operated with only two members, issuing hundreds of rulings despite the National Labor Relations Act’s three-member quorum requirement. Before the Board’s membership fell to just two – due in part to the inability of nominees to get confirmed by Congress – the Board delegated authority to a two-member quorum in order to continue operating. The Board operated that way until March, when President Barack Obama made recess appointments to several agencies including the NLRB.

But the Court, in a closely-split ruling in New Process Steel, L. P. v. NLRB authored by Justice John Paul Stevens, said two is not enough.

That ruling was one of five cases handed down by the Court today.

The Court also held that a city’s search of the contents of text messages sent by police officers on city-issued mobile devices was reasonable. In the highly anticipated case City of Ontario v. Quon, the Court held that the city’s search of sexually explicit text messages sent between a SWAT team member and the woman with which he is having an affair did not violate the Fourth Amendment, reversing a 9th Circuit ruling to the contrary.

In Dillon v. U.S., the Court ruled that its holding in U.S. v. Booker does not give courts the authority to depart downward beyond already reduced federal sentencing guidelines for a crack cocaine offense.

In the bankruptcy case Schwab v. Reilly the Court held that an estate may retain value in the equipment beyond the value of the exempt interest if the exemptions were properly listed on Schedule C and they fell within the range the bankruptcy code allows.

And in Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection, the Court upheld a beach anti-erosion program that allowed sand to be added to a shoreline and creating strips of public beach over the objection of private beach land owners.

Much, much more on to come on this very busy day at the Court. Stay tuned to this blog and on Lawyers USA online.

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