American Judges Association


Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 46, Issue 4, 136-148


Copyright © 2010 American Judges Association. Used by permission.


The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009–2010 Term ushered in both important federal law clarifications and divisive constitutional pronouncements. The Court performed much work in the realm of civil procedure, doing away with Circuit splits regarding the collateral-order doctrine and diversity jurisdiction, and also explaining what it means to make a mistake for purposes of relation back—decisions sure to affect many a federal practice. The Court also dabbled in employment law under Title VII; decided constitutional challenges to several federal statutes, including an anti-terrorism statute; and attempted to firm up the boundaries that inhere in the constitutional concepts of federalism and separation of powers. But more than any of these other significant rulings, this Term will likely be remembered for two of the Court’s decisions that have easily earned “landmark” status: McDonald v. City of Chicago, in which the Court held the Second Amendment applicable to the states, and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Court held that groups of people organized as a corporation are entitled to the same free-speech rights as individuals. This article attempts to illuminate the rationale and possible implications of these and other notable civil decisions from the Court’s 2009–2010 Term.