Brown v. Sanders:
The Roberts Court has handed down its first 5-4 opinion today in a death penalty case, Brown v. Sanders. The case involved permissible jury instructions in capital cases, and specifically whether a new trial is warranted if one of several aggravating factors found by the jury is later held to be invalid. The Court reversed the Ninth Circuit's decision and held that no new trial was constitutionally required: Justice Scalia's opinion was joined by Justices O'Connor, Kennedy, Thomas, and Chief Justice Roberts. Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer and Souter dissented, and would have held that the sentence was unconstitutional.