Breaking News :

Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinion for the Court Tuesday in Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl gave online retailers a big victory – something that certainly wasn’t all that clear after the rocky time their counsel experienced at the oral argument. The case involves a question of paramount importance to online retailers, at least those whose business model depends on not charging sales taxes. Colorado has a statute that requires online retailers selling to Colorado customers to file a report each year advising Colorado tax authorities of the purchases local residents have made from that retailer. Collectively, the reports would facilitate the state’s collection of use taxes from local taxpayers for their online purchases; because the use taxes substitute directly for the sales taxes charged on retail purchases, effective enforcement would end the advantage online retailers have when they can sell tax free. Continue reading »

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Wednesday round-up

By on Mar 4, 2015 at 5:49 am

Today’s the day!  At 10 a.m. the Court will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell, the challenge to the availability of tax subsidies for individuals who purchase their health insurance on a marketplace created by the federal government.  Lyle Denniston previewed the oral argument for this blog, while I added a preview in Plain English.  Other coverage of the case comes from Nina Totenberg of NPR; Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal, who focuses on the role of Chief Justice John Roberts; David Savage of the Los Angeles Times, who looks at the origins of the case; Sahil Kapur of Talking Points Memo, who reports that  “Senate Republican leaders wouldn’t commit Tuesday to having health care legislation ready by June to avert a potential crisis if the Supreme Court wipes out Obamacare subsidies for millions of Americans”; Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal, who profiles Michael Carvin, the attorney for the challengers; and Paige Winfield Cunningham in the Washington Examiner. And in the Legal Times (subscription required), Tony Mauro reports that the Court has declined to release same-day audio of the argument.  Continue reading »

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Sharply criticizing the Supreme Court for its recent actions on same-sex marriage, the Alabama Supreme Court on Tuesday evening ordered all state judges who have the duty to issue licenses to wed to stop doing so immediately for same-sex couples.

Using its independent power to interpret the federal Constitution, the state tribunal upheld the Alabama ban on same-sex marriage — a ruling directly contrary to a decision by a federal trial judge in Mobile.  The Supreme Court itself has refused to stop the enforcement of the federal judge’s ruling while the state appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Continue reading »

Petition of the day

By on Mar 3, 2015 at 10:20 pm

The petition of the day is:


Issue: (1) Whether a jurisdictional determination, that is conclusive as to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, and binding on all parties, is subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act; and (2) whether a due process claim against an agency action is subject to the finality requirement of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Few areas of the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence are as dense and complex as the rules governing post-conviction habeas corpus petitions filed by state prisoners in federal court. And the density and complexity of those doctrines were on full display Tuesday morning, as the Justices tried to sort out whether California death row inmate Hector Ayala should receive a new trial for the murders of three men and a host of other serious felonies arising out of a 1985 armed robbery. While Justices Anthony Kennedy and Sonia Sotomayor, in particular, seemed deeply troubled by some of the actions of the state trial judge who presided over Ayala’s prosecution – and some of the arguments offered by California in defending those actions – it was difficult to find in Tuesday’s argument any broad support for a decision affirming the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that had granted Ayala relief. Instead, if Tuesday’s argument made anything clear, it was the need for the Justices to clarify exactly which state court decisions are entitled to deference from federal habeas courts—and for what reasons. Continue reading »


Today’s transcripts

By on Mar 3, 2015 at 4:44 pm

The transcript in Los Angeles v. Patel is here

The transcript in Davis v. Ayala is here.

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    “I think always the humor was a means to an end. And the end is, to help folks who don’t live in this world understand why it matters.” Dahlia Lithwick covers the Supreme Court and writes about law more broadly for  In this six-part interview, Ms. Lithwick discusses law school, practicing law, and how […]

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