Yesterday was a fairly active day for Court watchers, with the Justices issuing an opinion in one argued case, and hearing oral arguments in two others.

By a vote of seven to two, the Court in Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Florida held that a floating houseboat is not a “vessel” for purposes of 1 U.S.C. § 3, and therefore federal maritime jurisdiction is not triggered, because – except for the fact that it floats – nothing about a houseboat suggests that it is intended to transport people or things over water.  At this blog Lyle Denniston provides a comprehensive analysis of the decision along with an explanation in “Plain English”; other coverage comes from Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News, Nina Totenberg of NPR, Adam Liptak of The New York Times, Michael Doyle and Ina Paiva Cordle of McClatchy Newspapers, David G. Savage of the Los Angeles Times, Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal, Robert Barnes of The Washington Post, Matt Krantz of USA Today, Jesse J. Holland of the Associated Press, Jonathan Stempel of Reuters, and Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post.

Yesterday the Court also heard oral arguments in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District, in which it is considering whether government agencies can impose strict conditions on their willingness to issue a development permit.  In his coverage of the argument for this blog, Lyle Denniston observes that one “worry that seemed to spread across the bench” was that “a victory for [the landowner seeking the permit] might well pull the government’s public works projects into constant constitutional court battles.”  Others to cover the Koontz argument include Jonathan Stempel of Reuters, Lawrence Hurley of Greenwire, and Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

Today the Court will also hear oral arguments in two cases.  In City of Arlington v. FCC, the Court will confront whether a court should apply Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. NRDC, Inc., to review an agency’s determination of its own jurisdiction.  (Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorney work or contribute to this blog in various capacities, serves as co-counsel to the petitioners in this case.)  Miriam Seifter previews the case for this blog.  And at the Volokh Conspiracy Jonathan H. Adler notes that though the Court has never addressed this question head on, “the prevailing wisdom is that Chevon deference should not be available in the jurisdictional context.”

The Court will also hear oral arguments in Gunn v. Minton, presenting the issue of whether federal courts have exclusive “arising under” jurisdiction when the sole substantive issue is the application of a patent law doctrine which is an essential element of the plaintiff’s legal malpractice claim.  Ronald Mann previews the case for this blog.


  • As Sarah noted in yesterday’s round-up, Justice Soyomayor’s newly released memoir My Beloved World continues to generate coverage from, among others, Terry Baynes of Reuters and Scott Stump of NBC’s Today Show.
  • At this blog Jonathan Macey reports on last week’s oral argument in Gabelli v. SEC; and also at this blog, Rory Little covers Monday’s oral argument in Boyer v. Louisiana.
  • Ed Palattella of the Erie (Pa.) Times-News reports that among the Court’s cert. denials in Monday’s order list was the appeal of a Pennsylvania woman who is serving a life sentence for the death of a pizza deliveryman.  (Thanks to Howard Bashman for the link.)
  • At the Volokh Conspiracy Ilya Somin discusses the Supreme Court and partisanship.
  • Balkinization has three posts from the Conference on Liberty/Equality: The View from Roe’s 40th and Lawrence’s 10th Anniversaries at UCLA School of Law.  In the first post Ariela Dubler “offer[s] . . . historical tidbits for a quick peek at alternate ways of reasoning about women’s family and work choices.”  In the second post, Melissa Murray discusses the prospects of “relationship recognition pluralism” in the wake of Lawrence v. Texas.  And in the third post, Kenji Yoshino “unpack[s] the ‘child protective’ argument relating to same-sex marriage.”
  • In a guest post for Sentencing Law and Policy, Mark Allenbaugh reports on Monday’s oral argument in Alleyne v. United States.
  • At the Constitution Daily Lyle Denniston predicts that the Court could soon be a “major player” in challenges to “the Obama administration’s planned campaign to reduce gun violence across America.”
  • At the Constitutional Accountability Center David H. Gans discusses Shelby County v. Holder, and argues “[b]y any measure of fidelity to the Constitution, [it] should be an easy case.”
  • Andrew Cohen of The Atlantic discusses Justice Thomas’s remarks at oral argument on Monday – his first in seven years.  (Additional coverage of Justice’s Thomas remarks can also be found in yesterday’s round-up.)

Posted in Round-up

Recommended Citation: Conor McEvily, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 16, 2013, 12:46 PM),