A Summary of U.S. Supreme Court 2011-12 Term Decisions Affecting Children & Education

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Education Week’s “High Court Highlights” of the 2011-12 term, provides a nice recap of the Supreme Court’s high-profile cases that have left implications on public education, juvenile justice, and more.

IMMIGRATION: Arizona v. United States

  • Court upheld a measure requiring police to determine the immigration status of someone they stop, and reasonably suspect to be illegal. This decision left implications as to how courts will rule on states immigration measures such as laws requiring schools to make determinations about the citizenship status of new students.

HEALTH CARE & FEDERAL SPENDING: National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius

  • Court’s struck down the Medicaid Expansion provision of the Affordable Care Act which left implications on how the Court might rule on statutes adopted under Congress’s spending-clause authority. This includes statutes such as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

JUVENILE JUSTICE: Miller v. Alabama

  • Court held that states may not sentence juveniles convicted of murder under the age of 18 to life-without-parole. Rather, trial courts are to take into consideration their “immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences.”

BROADCAST INDECENCY: Federal Communications Commission v. Fox Television Stations, Inc.

  • Court held that FCC standards restricting broadcasters from airing television content with expletives and brief nudity, during times when children are likely to be in the TV audience, violated the due process rights of broadcasters.


  • Given the Court’s decision to uphold the federal definition of “child,” children born through in vitro fertilization are not guaranteed to receive Social Security survivor’s benefits in the event of a parent’s death.

Click here for more of Education Week’s “High Court Highlights” and additional information.

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