2015 is rapidly coming to an end. As it does so, we thought we would take a look back at the year from a legal standpoint. So here are the five biggest legal stories of 2015.
Perhaps the hottest discussed topic of the year - see Kim Davis and nearly every conservative state's attempt to block the legalization of same sex marriage. Not only has this been the biggest legal story of 2015, it could quite possibly be the biggest story of 2015 altogether. In June, the Supreme Court made its landmark decision to allow same-sex couple to marry nationwide by a decision count of 5-4.
2-The Second Amendment
Though this topic picked up a lot of steam following the terror attacks in San Bernardino, and lead to the New York Times publishing an forceful editorial demanding gun law changes. Add to the debate California's Nancy Pelosi's proposal of a gun ban regulation based upon the terror no-fly list as well as countless back and forth arguments between politicians, citizens, and the NRA, and it becomes evident that the issue of gun rights has been a huge legal story in 2015 and will likely be one of the hottest topics in 2016.
3-Police violence, body cameras, and racial disparities
2015 featured headline after headline that involved police violence - Walter Scott and Freddie Gray fueled the growth of #BlackLivesMatter, which started back in 2013. And within the past few weeks, Chicago police have come under heavy scrutiny for the death of Laquan McDonald. As a result, several officers have now been charged with murder in their related cases and the adoption of body cameras on police officers is quickly becoming an industry standard.
4-The Boston Marathon Bomber and Aurora Colorado Shooting Trial
The Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 sure feels like a long time ago, but in April of this year, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 charges he faced in connection with the bombing. A month later, Tsarnaev received the death penalty. The ruling has been appealed.
Similarly, James Holmes' heinous shooting in an Aurora, Colorado movie theatre in 2012 finally came to an end when jurors found him guilty of killing 12 and injuring 70 others. While Holmes was spared the death penalty, his received one life sentence for each life he took, and an additional 3,138 years for the attempted murders without possibility of parole. He has not appealed.
5-The European Refugee Crisis
While the refugee crisis has made headlines only recently, fueled by politicians and states fighting to ban any intake of Syrian refugees, across the Atlantic the legal battles have been raging for months. Estimates say over 1 million refugees have fled to Europe from war-torn Syria and other troubled areas in the Middle East and Africa.
The influx of refugees has prompted numerous international disputes and policy shifts as countries like Hungary have closed their borders and put up fences to prevent entry, while others like Germany have opened their borders and are striving to keep up with the flood of people. Further complicating the issue are this year's two terrorist attacks in Paris, both of which have been linked to refugees from the Middle East.