Coverage of Friday's cert. grant in Doe v. Reed dominated the headlines over the weekend. Adam Liptak of the New York Times has coverage of the case, in which the petitioners "“ who signed petitions supporting a referendum on a Washington state law extending the benefits of marriage to couples who registered as "domestic partners "“ seek to preclude the disclosure of their names and contact information. The Christian Science Monitor analyzes whether the groups seeking disclosure of the signatures are seeking “conversation or confrontation,” while Linda Greenhouse (in online commentary for the New York Times) compares the case to the ongoing challenge to California's Prop 8 and Citizens United v. FEC, writing that ”a merger of two separate lines of First Amendment precedent, one on freedom from compelled disclosure and the other on access to government proceedings, may not be far off.” The Blog of Legal Times also has coverage of the case, which “may be argued in April,” while SCOTUSblog’s own Lyle Denniston points out that “[t]he outcome of the case could affect publicity about petition-signers in the 27 states that have either an initiative or a referendum option for voters, or both.”
The inner workings of the Office of the Solicitor General were on view in several stories. The Associated Press reports on a December meeting between major tobacco companies and Solicitor General Elena Kagan regarding the government's options in its racketeering suit against the tobacco industry. The D.C. Circuit recently held that tobacco companies “illegally concealed the dangers of cigarette smoking,” but the court had previously prohibited the government from seeking the disgorgement of industry profits. Bloomberg’s Greg Stohr also has a story on the meeting, in which he reports that the two sides discussed a “so-called walk-away agreement,” under which both sides would agree not to seek certiorari. Finally, Tom analyzes these meetings, and in particular the characterization of the meetings as closed and secret. He points out that the government, like many private parties, often meets with opposing counsel to consider a settlement. These meeting are not “secret,” he writes, and they “happen all the time.” The deadline to appeal the decision is February 19th. The Chicago Tribune also covers the case.
Bill Otis at Crime and Consequences discusses the honest services fraud cases before the Court this Term. He focuses on Black v. United States, in which the Court will consider “whether we have any legal obligation to be honest with one another.” Otis contends that the government should have mentioned that Black, upon receiving a subpoena, immediately removed files from his office, thereby demonstrating that he “himself had no trouble knowing” that what he had done was illegal. These events, Otis suggests, refute the claim that the statute is so broad that no one can be certain if they have broken a law; in this case, at least, Black was certain he had broken the law.
Tony Mauro reviews a recent radio interview with Justice Scalia, during which the Justice discussed his love of opera music and his light-hearted comments during oral argument, meant “to just lighten things up.” The ABA reports on whether Scalia considers forced exposure to rock and roll music to be cruel and unusual punishment. See the full article for his answer.
- Reuters reports, as does the Washington Post, that the Court is expected to rule by Tuesday on an appeal in the case of Abu-Jamal, who has been on death row since his 1982 conviction.
- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch weighs in on the issues presented in Monsanto Company v. Geertson Seed Farms, in which the Court granted cert. on Friday. ABC News also has coverage.
- In the Los Angeles Times, the editorial page analyzes last week’s oral argument in United States v. Comstock and opines that “using the civil commitment process to lengthen a criminal sentence is dishonest and dangerous.” UPI also reports on the case.
- And finally, Above The Law offers predictions for potential coalitions of Justices in 26 cases this term, measuring 4 data points to analyze each Justice’s preferences