April 30: Today in Supreme Court History

As we close out the month of April, we thought it would be fun to take a moment to reflect on a few historic Supreme Court decisions issued on April 30th of years past.

The most prominent of our selection for today is 24-year old, Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986). In this historic case, the Supreme Court ruled that a prosecutor cannot use preemptory challenges (no-cause dismissal of jurors) to dismiss jurors based on race.

Today is also the 31st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Addington v. Texas, 441 U.S. 418 (1979). In this decision the Court raised the burden of proof required for involuntary commitment to a psychiatric facility from “preponderance of the evidence” to “clear and convincing” evidence.

Unless you are an intellectual property lawyer, you may not be familiar with Microsoft v. AT&T, 550 U.S. 437 (2007), a 3-year old decision in which the Supreme Court placed restrictions on the extraterritorial reach of U.S. Patent law. In short, after Microsoft, holders of U.S. software patents face significant barriers in enforcing their U.S. patents overseas.


cc licensed flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress

And here are some other historical happenings from April 30th — courtesy of HistoryOrb.com — a very cool resource:

1803 — the Louisiana purchase was agreed to in principle (it was signed on May 2).

1904 — the ice cream cone debuts at the St. Louis World’s Fair.

2004 — the U.S. media releases controversial photos from Abu Ghraib prison.

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