WASHINGTON – Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to the Supreme Court Tuesday, about two months after cancer surgery. In the meantime, she had missed arguments during her first absences since entering the court in 1993, but continued to participate in court decisions by reading briefs and transcripts.
Tuesday's argument was a technical argument about whether the federal government could challenge patents in a specialized court. Justice Ginsburg posed clear and clear questions to both parties, and she seemed to be skeptical of one aspect of the government's argument.
"The government is indeed entitled to two pieces of apple," she said, summarizing the patentee's argument in the case, Return Mail Inc. v. United States Postal Service, No. 17-1594. "All the others have only one."
The court stated that the post-operative assessments had shown that 85-year-old Judge Ginsburg, who had suffered many health losses over the years, was not suffering from cancer.
Before the judges began to sit, the Supreme Court rendered a decision in a death penalty case and decided to hear a case on water pollution.
In the capital case, Moore v. Texas, No. 18-443, the court ruled that Bobby James Moore, a Texas death row inmate, was mentally deficient. Although the court did not say so in terms, his decision effectively reversed the death sentence against Moore because his 2002 decision in the Atkins v. Virginia prohibited the execution of the intellectually handicapped as a violation of the eighth amendment's prohibition by the Eighth Amendment. Punishment.
Mr. Moore has been on death row since 1980 for shooting an employee of a Houston supermarket, James McCarble, 72, during a robbery.
The unsigned decision followed a decision by the Supreme Court in 2017 in the same case. By a five-to-three vote, the court had asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeal to re-examine the case, claiming that she had failed to follow the medical consensus. current and that she was relying too heavily on IQ scores and took into account factors rooted in stereotypes.
Last year, the Texas court reaffirmed its earlier decision and Mr. Moore again appealed to the Supreme Court. In Tuesday's ruling, the majority expressed frustration in the state court.
"We found in his opinion too many cases in which, with small variations, he repeats the analysis that we had previously found insufficient, and those same parts are essential to his final conclusion," said the majority.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who was a dissident in 2017, joins the majority.
Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., joined by Judges Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch, was dissenting, stating that the majority exceeded its authority by making factual rather than judicial decisions. Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh did not note any dissent and probably voted with the majority.
Also Tuesday, the Supreme Court decided to hear a case on the field of law enforcement on water sanitation. The court will decide whether Maui County in Hawaii needed a license to indirectly dispose of treated wastewater in the Pacific.
The lower courts are divided as to whether permits are required when pollutants enter the land before reaching an ocean, river or other waterway. US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, San Francisco, ruled against the county.
"Basically, this case is intended to prevent the county from doing indirectly what it can not do directly," Judge Dorothy W. Nelson wrote to a panel of three judges at the University of California. ; unanimously. "Consider otherwise would make fun of" the Clean Water Act.
The Trump administration had asked the Supreme Court to hear the case, Maui County v. The United States. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, No. 18-260.