Without any sign of dissent, the Supreme Court on Monday evening passed up its first chance to act on the rising religious freedom protest against same-sex marriage.  In a one-sentence order, the Court refused a Kentucky county clerk’s plea for protection from having to issue marriage licenses, including licenses for same-sex partners, to which she objects as a matter of faith.

The Court’s denial order put into effect an order by a federal trial judge in Ashland, Ky., requiring Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to give up her no-licenses policy.   District Judge David L. Bunning had issued the order to implement the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges after the state’s governor ordered all county clerks to give official permission to gay and lesbian couples to wed. Continue reading »


Event announcement

By on Aug 31, 2015 at 4:32 pm

On September 2 at 1 p.m., the State & Local Legal Center will host a webinar on decisions from the past Term which will require local governments to make changes to stay in compliance with the law.  Lisa Soronen will lead the discussion.  More information is available on the Center’s website.

Posted in Everything Else

Raising the chance that the Supreme Court will review his case, former Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell on Monday gained the right to stay out of prison while that appeal goes forward.  In a one-paragraph order, without a noted dissent, the Justices put off the process that could have required his jailing within a matter of days.

The delay will continue until the Court acts finally on the appeal that McDonnell’s lawyers will soon file — either by granting review and deciding the case, or by refusing to hear the appeal.  The earliest that may happen is early next year.

Continue reading »


Monday round-up

By on Aug 31, 2015 at 7:10 am

As Lyle Denniston reported for this blog, last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a federal law prohibiting protests and demonstrations on the Supreme Court’s plaza.  Other coverage comes from Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal (subscription or registration required) and Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal.

At The Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr criticizes last week’s article in The New York Times on recent studies that analyze overlap between the Court’s opinions and briefs submitted to the Court in those cases; the article cited Justice Clarence Thomas as having the highest “overlap” rate among the Justices in the Roberts Court era.  Kerr contends that, if “you look at the data . . . they don’t support the conclusion that Justice Thomas is an outlier.” Similarly, at Crime and Consequences, Kent Scheidegger asserts that “Justice Thomas is barely different at all from Justice Sotomayor and not much different from Justice Ginsburg, a result very different from the initial impression formed by the top of the article.”  Continue reading »

Posted in Round-up

The blog and Goldstein & Russell, P.C., are looking for someone to serve as both the firm manager for Goldstein & Russell, P.C., and the deputy manager of SCOTUSblog.  The principal responsibilities for this position include, but are not limited to:

  • Coordinating and proofing Supreme Court filings;
  • Paralegal tasks, including drafting simple legal documents, checking citations for accuracy and formatting, and light legal research;
  • Administrative work for the firm and in particular for Tom Goldstein, the firm’s managing partner;
  • Scheduling travel, which may entail making frequent last-minute changes and arrangements, sometimes during off hours;
  • Overseeing all web development for the blog, from strategy and planning to execution by web development team;
  • Assisting the blog manager with case coverage; and
  • Overseeing occasional special projects.

The qualifications for this position include:

  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail;
  • Excellent writing and editing skills;
  • Strong interest in learning about the U.S. Supreme Court and its workings;
  • Undergraduate experience with law-related courses is a plus, though not a requirement, as is an interest in attending law school (part-time students are not eligible for this position); and
  • Ability to improvise; we occasionally need all hands on deck both during and outside of normal business hours.

A commitment of at least two years is required for this position.  To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, transcript (either official or unofficial), and unedited writing sample (no more than five pages) to andrew@goldsteinrussell.com by August 31.  Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience.  This position is in Bethesda, Maryland.

Posted in Everything Else

UPDATED Saturday 7:49 a.m.   Relying upon the history, dating back to America’s founding, of the right of conscience, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis asked the Supreme Court on Friday night to protect her from taking an official action that she regards as an indication that she supports same-sex marriage, an act that would violate her faith.   She wants that temporary shield from issuing any marriage licenses while she pursues an appeal first in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and, if she loses there, the Supreme Court.  A key issue, her application argued, is a new one: whether she has a right to avoid all licensing, avoiding any discrimination, to follow her faith principles.  She also contended that couples seeking to marry in her county suffer no harm from her policy, because they can drive in thirty minutes or less to several neighboring counties where licenses are now available.  Her application, including lower court orders, is here.  The Supreme Court has the option, before acting, of seeking a response from  the couples who sued.


UPDATED Friday 10:52 p.m.   The application (Davis v. Miller, 15A250) has now been filed at the Court.  The blog will provide a copy as soon as it becomes available.


A county clerk in Kentucky who stopped issuing any marriage licenses to avoid doing so for same-sex couples — an action that she says would violate her religious beliefs — is taking her case to the Supreme Court.  On Friday, the clerk’s lawyers formally notified a federal judge that they were pursuing an emergency order from the Supreme Court that would allow her to continue her “no licenses” policy.

This would mark the first time that the Court has been asked to take any action on the spreading resistance, based on religious opposition, to the June 26 ruling opening marriage rights to same-sex couples. Continue reading »


More than two years after a federal judge took away most of the Supreme Court’s power to prohibit all picketing, protests, and other demonstrations on the plaza in front of its building, a federal appeals court revived that authority on Friday in a lengthy opinion.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a sixty-five-year-old federal law that restricts what the public may do on what the judges called the Court’s “elevated front porch.”  That is the oval terrace officially known as “the plaza.”  It is the space between the public sidewalk and the majestic marble steps that lead up into the Court building.

Continue reading »


Charlotte Garden is an Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law and Litigation Director of the Korematsu Center for Law & Equality.

Across America, an intense debate is taking place over how states should structure their labor relations, and especially the extent to which state and local government employees should have the right to elect unions to represent them in collective bargaining. This debate has taken place against a constitutional backdrop that allows states considerable choice among different labor relations models, ranging from no collective bargaining at all to extensive bargaining over most working conditions. States like California that opt for robust collective bargaining regimes also decide whether or not workers may be contractually required to pay their share of union representation costs, known as agency fees. But that may change this Term in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. A holding for the petitioners in Friedrichs would invalidate agency fee provisions in countless longstanding contracts, undermine public workplace relationships, weaken unions’ abilities to represent workers, and destabilize settled law. Continue reading »

Friday round-up

By on Aug 28, 2015 at 9:31 am


  • Anthony Franze and Reeves Anderson conducted their annual review of amicus practice at the Court for The National Law Journal; they conclude that it was another record-breaking year for amici, which has essentially become the “new norm.”
  • In both The Hill and American Thinker, Sean Roman Strockyj urges the Court to deny review in a case involving efforts to transfer the remains of Jim Thorpe from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma.
  • At casetext, Colin Starger characterizes last Term’s decision in Ohio v. Clark as the “latest salvo in [a] longstanding doctrinal war over the meaning of the Confrontation Clause and the reach of the Crawford line of cases.”
  • In The New York Times, Adam Liptak reports on recent studies which analyze overlap between the Court’s opinions and briefs submitted to the Court in those cases; he notes that Justice Clarence Thomas’s majority opinions had the highest overlap rate in the Roberts Court era, while Justice Elena Kagan had the lowest.
  • In The National Law Journal (subscription or registration required), Tony Mauro reports on Kagan’s interview with legal writing guru Bryan Garner; Kagan told Garner that she “thinks American law schools—including those in the top tier—need to ‘think in a deep way’ about how to help their students become better writers.”

If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, or op-ed relating to the Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at] scotusblog.com.

Posted in Round-up

David B. Rivkin, Jr., and Andrew M. Grossman practice appellate litigation in the Washington, D.C., office of Baker & Hostetler LLP. They filed an amicus brief in support of certiorari in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association on behalf of the Cato Institute, where Mr. Grossman is an adjunct scholar.

Whatever the fate of mandatory “fair share” payments that nonmembers are often required to make to fund public-sector unions’ collective bargaining activities, Friedrichs will likely mark the end of requirements that dissenting workers take action to “opt out” of funding public-sector unions’ political and ideological activities, the subject of the second question that the Court agreed to consider. Although less prominent than the forced-payments issue, ending opt-out requirements would correct a serious anomaly in the Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence, one that facilitates tens of millions of dollars annually in union political spending of funds obtained through inertia, trickery, and coercion. Continue reading »

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