Anna Nicole Smith Wins Supreme Court Case

Anna Nicole Smith got the support of the Supreme Court, who ruled 9-0 in her favor.

Anna Nicole Smith, a one-time stripper and Playboy Playmate of the Year, prevailed in the U.S. Supreme Court today in her celebrated legal struggle over the estate of her late billionaire husband, J.. Howard Marshall II, who wed her in his 89th year and then died. Her victory at the high court, which was unanimous, does not mean she will get the millions she claims, at least not yet. She must now return to a lower court for further proceedings in her 11 year old dispute with the deceased man’s son, who has accused her of gold digging.

The grounds of the opinion, though, are quite narrow:

Over the objection of the son, the [U.S. Bankruptcy Court] sided with the widow. It claimed authority over the case because it deemed it a “core proceeding” under bankruptcy law. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reversed, saying that the state’s exclusive jurisdiction over probate matters stripped federal courts of the power to consider any “probate related matter.”

Ginsburg said the appeals court went too far. “We hold that the Ninth Circuit had no warrant from Congress, or from decisions of this Court, for its sweeping extension of the probate exception,” Ginsburg said. While the Supreme Court has recognized a “probate exception” to federal jurisdiction in bankruptcy cases, she wrote, that exception does not bar federal courts from all state matters of probate. Ginsburg ordered the controversy returned to U.S. District Court for further consideration in light of today’s ruling.

So, despite Smith’s infamany, surgically enhanced mammaries, and the speculation as to she married a rich old geezer, we get a dull, technical decision from the Supremes that doesn’t actually settle the case.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Law and the Courts, Popular Culture, Supreme Court, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ICallMasICM says:

    No pictures? Not like the good old days.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Sadly, defendants aren’t there when opinions are announced.