Amid apprehension of anthrax contamination, the Supreme Court announced on Monday three cases chosen for this terms docket. Since then, the Supreme Court Building has been closed, and the Justices have been hearing oral arguments in a ceremonial courtroom at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. With another anthrax related blip affecting its schedule, the Court has postponed granting review to any additional cases until next week Friday.
The first of the three cases granted this week, Chevron U.S.A. v. Echazabal (No. 00-1406), raises the question, whether a person who is unable to carry out the essential functions of a job without incurring significant risks to his own health or life should be considered an individual "qualified" for the job for the purposes of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act? Chevron appealed the case involving a potential employee who was offered a job, then had the job offer rescinded after a physical examination revealed a diagnosis of chronic liver disease. Although his health condition would allow him to perform the requirements of the job, Chevron argues that his health could be put into danger as a result of his employment.
The Court also granted review in Lapides v. Board of Regents of the University of Georgia (No. 01-298). This case involves an Eleventh Amendment issue of whether a state waives its immunity from suit in federal court by its affirmative litigation conduct when it removes a case to federal court.
The third case that the Court added to its docket is Thompson v. Western States Medical Center (No. 01-344), a First Amendment case involving drug advertising. The question presented is whether the federal government can limit the advertising by pharmacies of compounded drugs (those drugs which are mixed by pharmacists for patients with allergies or who need specialized medication). While, a prescription is required to obtain compounded drugs, they are exempted from the FDAs approval process if the pharmacy agrees not to advertise the compound drug. Western States Medical Center claims that the law violates the commercial free speech rights of pharmacists.
The Court declined without comment to review a case challenging Virginias "minute of silence" law. The Court let stand the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the Virginia statute mandating schools to begin the day with a minute of silence does not violate the First Amendment. To read more on the case click here: http://www.cfif.org/5_8_2001/Legal/updates/lu_silence.htm
From its temporary courtroom, the Court heard oral argument this week in Ashcroft v. The Free Speech Coaltion. A federal law that bans the use of computer-generated sexually explicit images of children is being challenged. The Justices will now weigh whether that law violates the First Amendment.
Continue to stay tuned as the Court marches through the Term.
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October 29, 2001
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