Thursday round-up

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral argument in two cases. The first was Murphy v. Smith, which asks who should pay attorney’s fees in successful civil-rights cases brought on behalf of prisoners. Subscript has a graphic explainer for the case. Yesterday’s second case was Marinello v. United States, in which the justices considered the limits of tax-law obstruction-of-justice charges. For Law360 (subscription required), Vidya Kauri reports that at oral argument, “the debate largely focus[ed] on taxpayer intent to make the IRS’ job harder.” Subscript’s graphic explainer is here.

Tuesday’s oral argument in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the court will decide whether the First Amendment bars Colorado from requiring a baker to create a cake for a same-sex wedding, continues to provide food for thought (and bad puns). NPR’s Nina Totenberg breaks down the legal issues in the case in a YouTube video. Bloomberg BNA’s US Law Week Blog offers video interviews in which advocates on both sides react to the argument. At Keen News Service, Lisa Keen observes that “the court’s transcript of the proceeding betrayed how unnervingly unpredictable the outcome of this dramatically important case is.”

Additional commentary on Masterpiece Cakeshop comes from Jeff Milchen at The American Independent Business Alliance; Walter Olson in an op-ed for the New York Daily News; law student Justin Burnam at The Least Dangerous Blog; Mark Joseph Stern at Slate; David Boyle at Casetext; Jeffrey Toobin at The New Yorker’s Daily Comment blog; Howard Wasserman at PrawfsBlawg; Douglas Laycock and Thomas Berg at Vox; the same authors in an op-ed for the New York Daily News, where they maintain that “[t]he free exercise argument lets the Court craft a narrow exception focused just on sincere religious believers and on weddings”; and Rick Hills at PrawfsBlawg, who suggests that “respect for federalism’s role in defusing deep disagreements should lead the Court to affirm by deferring heavily to Colorado’s characterization of its purpose.”


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