The Supreme Court 2009 Term Overview and 2010 Term Preview

Joan Biskupic
Erwin Chemerinsky, UC Irvine School of Law
Leon Friedman
Martin A. Schwartz


On Monday, June 28, 2010, the Supreme Court completed its fifth year with John Roberts as Chief Justice, its first year with Justice Sonia Sotomayor on the bench, and its thirty-fifth and final Term with Justice John Paul Stevens. In that Term, the Supreme Court decided seventy-three cases after briefing and oral argument, just a few less than the seventy-six cases decided the year before in the 2008 Term. In this Article, these cases are reviewed and analyzed by the authors.

As discussed in this Article by Professor Schwartz, in some of the Court's important decisions during this Term, there existed more humaneness than seen in past recent Terms. For example, a sentence of life-imprisonment for juveniles convicted of non-homicide offenses was overturned. Other examples include the concern the Court expressed about criminal defendants knowing about deportation consequences, and the more realistic view of the limitation period for discrimination cases. Another case exemplifying the Court's humaneness was Florida v. Holland, where the defendant's lawyer in a death penalty case made a mistake regarding the limitations period for filing a habeas petition. In past Terms, even before the Roberts Court, the Court has said that it is just too bad; that is, the lawyer's sins are visited upon the client. There seemed to be more of a concern in some of the cases last Term for the plight of the individual.