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Professor Lisa McElroy Discusses Supreme Court Rulings on Public Radio Programs

June 27, 2011

Professor Lisa McElroy discussed the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on California's restriction of violent video game sales to minors on American Public Media's "Marketplace" and Southern California Public Radio's "AirTalk" programs on June 27.

In a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that the state's law violated the First Amendment.

"I think that what we see is that the court is serious about the First Amendment," McElroy said on "Marketplace." "Parents are going to make the decisions about what kinds of speech their kids can use and that that is not up to the state."

On June 24, McElroy discussed the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Wal-Mart v. Dukes and its impact on class-action lawsuits on Oregon Public Radio’s “Think Out Loud” program.

In its 5-4 decision, the court ruled in favor of the national chain, finding female employees of Wal-Mart did not prove they have enough in common to justify a class-action claim alleging gender-based discrimination in promotion and pay practices. The court, noting that Wal-Mart delegated most promotion decisions to store and regional managers, and has in place a clear nondiscrimination policy, did not find evidence of an over-arching pattern of sex discrimination at the corporate level.

Individuals who pursue a class-action suit must be able to make similar claims and qualify for the same kind of relief, McElroy said, explaining the diverse employment positions held by women in the case prevented the court from recognizing them as a single class.

McElroy also discussed the case on “AirTalk” on June 21, where she noted that the ruling affects consumers as well as employees in future class-action claims.

“When the court makes a decision, there is an enormous ripple effect,” said McElroy. “This was a big win for big business today. They’re going to be able to use this as a blockbuster decision.”

McElroy writes the Plain English column at SCOTUSblog.