The Court issued two opinions today. In Brown v. Plata, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy, the Court affirmed the decision of the three-judge district court panel.  By a vote of five to four, it held that the court below did not err in concluding that overcrowding in California prisons was the "primary" cause of the continuing violations of prisoners' constitutional rights to adequate health care; moreover, the Court explained, the evidence supported the conclusion of the three-judge panel that a population limit was necessary to remedy the overcrowding problem.  Finally, the relief ordered by the three-judge court "“ the population limit "“was narrowly drawn, extended no further than necessary to correct the violation, and was the least intrusive means necessary to correct the violation. Justice Scalia wrote a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justice Thomas. Justice Alito also wrote a dissenting opinion, which was joined by the Chief Justice. The opinion is here.

The second opinion issued today was in General Dynamics v. United States, which is consolidated with Boeing v. United States. At issue in the case was whether the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment permits the government to maintain a claim while simultaneously asserting the state-secrets privilege to bar presentation of a prima facie valid defense to that claim. In an opinion written by Justice Scalia, the Court unanimously voted to vacate and remand the Federal Circuit's decision, holding that when a court dismisses a contractor’s prima facie valid affirmative defense to the government’s allegations of breach of contract to protect state secrets, a proper remedy is to leave the parties where they were on the day they filed suit. The opinion is here.

The Court also issued orders from its May 19 Conference. The order list is here. The Court granted cert. in one case, Kawashima v. Holder. At issue in the case is whether filing a false statement on a corporate tax return is an aggravated felony involving fraud or deceit, which would render the immigrant removable. Notably, after re-listing the case several times, the Court denied cert. in Khadr v. Obama, the last of the pending petitions in the detainee cases likely to be considered this Term.   Justices Breyer and Sotomayor indicated that they would have granted the petition; Justice Kagan was recused from the case.  The Court did not request the views of the Solicitor General in any cases.

Posted in Featured, Merits Cases

Recommended Citation: Kali Borkoski, Details on today’s opinions and orders, SCOTUSblog (May. 23, 2011, 10:54 AM),