U.S. Supreme Court | KUOW News and Information

U.S. Supreme Court

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that taxpayer-funded grants for playgrounds available to nonprofits under a state program could not be denied to a school run by a church.

"The consequence is, in all likelihood, a few extra scraped knees. But the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and cannot stand," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.

The Supreme Court says it will decide the fate of President Trump's revised travel ban, agreeing to hear arguments over immigration cases that were filed in federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland and allowing parts of the ban that has been on hold since March to take effect.

The justices removed the two lower courts' injunctions against the ban "with respect to foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States," narrowing the scope of those injunctions that had put the ban in limbo.

The Slants
Courtesy of The Slants

Bill Radke speaks with Simon Tam of Portland band The Slants and Robert Chang, professor of law at the Seattle University School of Law, about the Supreme Court decision that allowed Tam's Asian-American band to trademark their name, which some argued was too offensive for the designation.

Tam explains how he feels this decision allows people to empower themselves against slurs and thinks this is a huge win for social justice.

Professor Chang disagrees with the SCOTUS decision, claiming that this could open the doors to discriminatory  trademarks that slip past civil rights laws. He also argues that trademarking names may in fact harm future social justice movements. 

Members of the Asian-American rock band The Slants have the right to call themselves by a disparaging name, the Supreme Court says, in a ruling that could have broad impact on how the First Amendment is applied in other trademark cases.

The Slants' frontman, Simon Tam, filed a lawsuit after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office kept the band from registering its name and rejected its appeal, citing the Lanham Act, which prohibits any trademark that could "disparage ... or bring ... into contemp[t] or disrepute" any "persons, living or dead," as the court states.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

President Trump's administration filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday night seeking to reverse rulings by lower courts in Hawaii and Maryland that blocked a temporary ban on travel to the United States from six majority-Muslim countries.

The Trump administration says the Constitution gives the president "broad authority to prevent aliens abroad from entering this country when he deems it in the nation's interest."

Today, more Americans graduate high school and go on to college than ever before. But as the country becomes more diverse — the Census Bureau expects that by 2020 more than half of the nation's children will be part of a minority race or ethnic group — are colleges and universities ready to serve them?

Updated at 2:47 p.m. ET

Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed Friday as the 113th justice to serve on the nation's highest court. The final vote was 54-45, mostly along party lines.

Thursday is the day the judicial filibuster in the Senate is scheduled to die. There hasn't been much of an effort to save it, but there have been a lot of lamentations for the slow demise of the World's Greatest Deliberative Body (WGDB), otherwise known as the U.S. Senate.

Here are five insights into what the death of the judicial filibuster means:

1. The winners and losers

President Donald Trump shakes hands with 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch, his choice for Supreme Court associate justice in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Bill Radke talks to New York Times Magazine staff writer Emily Bazelon about the Senate vote on Judge Neil Gorsuch and what it means now that Senate Democrats are threatening to filibuster the the vote. 

After a day of statements, Tuesday's Supreme Court confirmation hearing was all about answers. Judge Neil Gorsuch was careful in his responses to Senate Judiciary Committee members, but there were still a number of insights that marked the day. Read our full Day 2 coverage here. These are five highlights:

President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, to announce Judge Neil Gorsuch as his nominee for the Supreme Court. Gorsuch stands with his wife Louise.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Starting Tuesday morning, NPR Politics team cover the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

With security at the U.S.-Mexico border at the center of a seething controversy, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court seemed torn at oral arguments on Tuesday — torn between their sense of justice and legal rules that until now have protected U.S. Border Patrol agents from liability in cross-border shootings.

The Washington State Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that a florist who declined to do flowers for a same-sex wedding broke the state’s anti-discrimination law. But the same-sex couple who won the case, isn’t celebrating too enthusiastically just yet.

The highest court in Washington state says a florist violated the state's anti-discrimination law when she refused to provide floral services to a gay couple.

Is Thunderpussy too offensive to trademark?

Feb 13, 2017

Bill Radke talks to Molly Sides and Leah Julius of the Seattle band Thunderpussy and their struggle to trademark a name that the federal government has deemed too offensive. A case currently in the Supreme Court will determine if their name, among others, will be given trademark status. The members discuss why a trademark is so important, the misconceptions about their name and why they struggle with other names, such as the Washington Redskins, that would also benefit from this ruling.  

Bill Radke talks with Emily Bazelon about the ongoing court battle over President Trump's immigration and refugee travel ban. Bazelon is a staff writer for the New York Times Magazine and a senior research scholar at Yale Law School.

When the country elects a Republican president, and there's an opening on the U.S. Supreme Court, that president will nominate a conservative to fill the seat. The question is: What kind of a conservative?

There are different kinds of conservative judges, from the pragmatist to the originalist. Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's nominee, is a self-proclaimed originalist.

President Donald Trump shakes hands with 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch, his choice for Supreme Court associate justice in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Bill Radke talks to Jessica Taylor, lead digital political reporter for NPR, about President Donald Trump's nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the empty seat on the Supreme Court. 

President Trump has two words of advice for Mitch McConnell when it comes to confirming Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch: "Go nuclear."

Trump was referring to the so-called nuclear option, whereby the Senate leader would change the chamber's rules to prevent Democrats from filibustering the nominee.

President Trump has selected federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill a Supreme Court seat that has sat vacant for nearly a year, setting up a blockbuster confirmation hearing that could put the new White House's domestic political agenda on trial in the U.S. Senate.

Updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

President Trump has nominated conservative favorite Judge Neil Gorsuch to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

"Judge Gorsuch has a superb intellect, an unparalleled legal education, and a commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its text. He will make an incredible justice as soon as the Senate confirms him," Trump said in announcing his pick.

Supreme Court SCOTUS
Flickr Photo/Kjetil-Ree (CC BY-NC-ND)

Kim Malcolm talks with University of Washington law professor Hugh Spitzer about how previous U.S. Supreme Court decisions could prevent the Trump administration from cutting federal funding to sanctuary cities like Seattle. 

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday in a dispute that advocates describe as the most important case involving public school special education in three decades.

At issue is whether federal law requires public schools to provide more than the bare minimum in special services for children with disabilities. With millions of children qualifying for these services, the court's ruling could have a profound effect.

On Jan. 20, 2016, exactly a year before a new president would be sworn into office, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia announced the court's 8-to-1 decision reinstating the death penalty for two Kansas brothers.

It was the last time the 79-year-old Scalia would announce an opinion. Three weeks later, on a hunting trip in Texas, the conservative icon died in his sleep.

At the Supreme Court on Monday, the justices heard arguments in the case of a girl with disabilities, her service dog and the school that barred the dog from the premises.

Ehlena Fry was born with cerebral palsy, which significantly limits her mobility but not her cognitive skills. So when she was about to enter kindergarten in Napoleon, Mich., her parents got a trained service dog — a white furry goldendoodle, named Wonder.

The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear a case regarding transgender students' right to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

The justices will hear the case sometime next year.

At issue is whether a Virginia high school student is allowed to use the boys' bathroom. NPR's Nina Totenberg reports:

Linda Brewster of Port Townsend is in Seattle to make some phone calls for I-735.
KUOW Photo/David Hyde

Linda Brewster lives in Port Townsend, but today she traveled to Seattle to make phone calls for Initiative 735. She estimates she's dedicated over 1,500 hours of her life to this campaign.

The Supreme Court has decided to hear a case that might decide whether the government can deny Washington's NFL team a trademark because it has deemed the team name is offensive.

The court granted certiorari on Lee V. Tam. If you remember, The Slants, an Asian-American rock band, sued the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office because it refused to trademark their name saying it proved offensive.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a federal corruption case involving the former governor of Virginia could have implications in Oregon.

In 2013, a young woman named Abigail Fisher sued the University of Texas after claiming she was denied admission to the school in 2008 because she was white.

"There were people in my class with lower grades who weren't in all the activities I was in, and who were being accepted into UT," said Fisher. "And the only other difference between us was the color of our skin."

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