In its opening days, the court refused an appeal by Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols and banned former president Bill Clinton from practicing before the body.
In a controversial move, the court also rejected an appeal from several black men who claimed police unconstitutionally targeted them during a search for a robbery suspect.
The case centered on a 1992 attack of an elderly woman in Oneonta, N.Y. The victim told police that her assailant was a young black man -- a conclusion she came to after a brief glimpse of her attacker's forearm and by listening to the pace of his footsteps, which she said was characteristic of a young man. She also said her assailant might have been cut during the attack. Using the woman's statements, police searched area hospitals for a young black man being treated for cuts. Finding no one, the police then obtained a list of all the black male students at a college near the alleged attack and questioned each one.
Once again, the search proved fruitless, so the police expanded their search to the area surrounding the woman's home. In all, 450 men were questioned about the attack.
No one was ever arrested.
Then-N.Y. Gov. Mario Cuomo and other state officials quickly apologized for the search. But 35 of the men sued the city and the New York Police Department, arguing the search violated the Fourth Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law.
However, the N.Y. federal courts dismissed the cases. In its ruling, the state's appeals court said the searches were legitimate because they were based on "a physical description given by the victim of the crime."
But the ruling allowed some of the men, who claimed the questioning also violated their right against unreasonable searches, to continue their lawsuits. The men appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the Constitution does not allow police to target an entire minority community based on a victim's accusation.
On Monday, the court rejected the case, dealing what some call a major blow to the fight against racial profiling.