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Washington-From gay rights to punitive damages, the 2003 term had an abundance of cases to provoke debates at dinner tables and legal seminars. Here are some of the hottest cases of the term and the lawyers who argued them: The Texas law making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct violates the due process clause. Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), was decided incorrectly and is overruled. The University of Michigan’s use of race in its freshman admissions policy is not narrowly tailored to achieve the university’s goal of a diverse student body and violates the equal protection clause. A diverse student body is a compelling government interest. The University of Michigan Law School’s use of race in its admissions policy is narrowly tailored to further that interest and does not violate the equal protection clause. In order to provide effective assistance of counsel, defense lawyers in capital murder trials must meet prevailing professional standards in investigating potential mitigation evidence. A punitive damages award of $145 million, where the compensatory damages total $1 million, is excessive and violates the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. In practice, few awards exceeding a single-digit ratio between punitive and compensatory damages will satisfy due process. Connecticut’s Megan’s law, which requires convicted sex offenders to register with a state agency, does not violate the due process clause when it fails to give them a hearing into whether they are currently dangerous before public disclosure of their names, addresses, descriptions and photos on a Web site. A sentence of 25 years to life for felony grand theft of three golf clubs worth $399 each-the “third strike” for a defendant-is not grossly disproportionate and therefore does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. A state law requiring that client funds, which could not generate net earnings for the client, be deposited in an interest-bearing account for legal services for the poor isn’t a regulatory taking. The 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act, which enlarged the duration of copyrights by 20 years-until 70 years after the author’s death-does not exceed Congress’ power under the copyright clause. Nor does the act’s extension violate the First Amendment. State employees may sue states in federal court for damages if the state fails to comply with the family-care provision of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

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