[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] Tuesday in Snyder v. Louisiana [SCOTUSwiki backgrounder; merit briefs], 06-10119, where it considered whether a prosecutor improperly excluded all black potential jurors from serving on a jury in a murder case because of their race. During the sentencing phase of Allen Snyder's trial, the prosecutor drew comparisons between the proceeding and the trial of OJ Simpson [CourtTV case materials] in urging the jury to impose the death penalty. The Louisiana Supreme Court upheld [opinion, PDF] Snyder's death sentence. Snyder argued on appeal that the prosecutor used the comparison to create a race-based rationale for the death penalty. In its 1986 ruling in Batson v. Kennedy [opinion text], the Supreme Court held that lawyers cannot exclude people from a jury solely on account of their race. AP has more. The Christian Science Monitor has additional coverage.
The Court also heard arguments [transcript, PDF] in Riegel v. Medtronic [SCOTUSwiki backgrounder; merit briefs],06-179, [docket; cert. petition], where it considered whether Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [official website] regulation of medical devices protects manufacturers such as Medtronic, Inc. [corporate website] from state product liability lawsuits. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that a damages claim by a man injured by a Medtronic device was preempted by the device's FDA approval [opinion, PDF].