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Each individual — among hundreds and maybe thousands — found guilty of keeping and looking at images of a child being sexually abused must pay the victim something more than a “trivial” sum, but none of them can be required to pay for all that the victim has lost, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in a five-to-four decision.

The ruling in the case of Paroline v. United States, settling a dispute among lower courts on a mandatory law of restitution to victims of child pornography, refused to establish a specific formula for allocating the financial blame, telling federal trial judges to “do their best,” with a few suggestions for starting points.  Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion.

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John Elwood reviews Monday’s relisted cases.

We begin this week’s edition with speculation about a possible shift in Supreme Court practice that may launch scrutiny of Supreme Court relists from its current tidal eddy of obscurity into . . . well, a slightly larger but equally obscure eddy.  One swallow does not a summer make, but with apologies to Aristotle, Cervantes, and suchlike paragons of the Western Literary Tradition, a dozen hirundines in a row may at least suggest a warming trend.

Earlier this week I remarked that all of this week’s grants came from among the ranks of the relists, and noticed similar instances earlier this year.  But as the eagle-eyed Hashim Mooppan pointed out to me, the relist streak has been far longer and more consistent.  At the risk of being the guy who calls the no-hitter at the top of the second inning, OT2014 is currently an all-relist Term.

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At its Conference on April 25, 2014, the Court will consider petitions seeking review of issues such as the vesting of retiree health-care benefits in collective bargaining agreements, the liability of police officers who failed to stop a sexual assault, and certification of a civil RICO class action based on alleged fraud.

This edition of “Petitions to watch” features petitions raising issues that Tom has determined to have a reasonable chance of being granted, although we post them here without consideration of whether they present appropriate vehicles in which to decide those issues.  Our policy is to include and disclose all cases in which Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, represents either a party or an amicus in the case, with the exception of the rare cases in which Goldstein & Russell represents the respondent(s) but does not appear on the briefs in the case.

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We are live blogging this morning as opinions are issued. Please click this link to be taken to the live blog page.

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Yesterday, the nine Justices of the Supreme Court convened in a packed courtroom to hear oral arguments in two high-profile cases.  But the real drama came before the oral arguments even started, when Chief Justice John Roberts announced that Justice Anthony Kennedy would deliver the Court’s decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the challenge to an amendment to the Michigan constitution that bans the use of affirmative action by public universities there.  (My earlier Plain English coverage of the case is available here.)

Justice Kennedy began by explaining what “this case is not about.”  It is not about whether state universities can voluntarily consider race in their admissions process, nor is it about whether it’s a good idea for them to do so.  Instead, Kennedy emphasized, the question before the Court is whether voters can choose to prohibit state universities from considering race.  And the answer to that question, we learned yesterday, is yes.  Continue reading »

Wednesday round-up

By on Apr 23, 2014 at 6:10 am

Yesterday was a big day at the Court, with two opinions and two arguments in high-profile cases.  In Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the Court upheld Michigan’s ban on the use of affirmative action by public universities there.  Kali rounded up early coverage of, and commentary on, that decision for this blog.  Other coverage comes from Nina Totenberg of NPR, Mark Walsh at Education Week’s School Law blog, Jaclyn Belczyk of JURIST, and Howard Mintz of the San Jose Mercury News.  Commentary comes from Mike Sacks for The Daily Beast, Ilya Shapiro at Cato at Liberty, Daniel Fisher at Forbes, Michael Dorf at Verdict, Ruthann Robson at Constitutional Law Prof Blog, and Marci Hamilton at Hamilton and Griffin on Rights.  In Navarette v. California, the Court upheld a traffic stop that was based on an anonymous tip and resulted in arrest.  Lyle Denniston covered the decision for this blog, with other coverage coming from Katie Barlow and Nina Totenberg at NPR and from Amy Mathieu at JURIST; commentary comes from Tim Lynch at Cato at Liberty. Continue reading »

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Petition of the day

By on Apr 22, 2014 at 10:17 pm

The petition of the day is:

Amgen Inc. v. Harris
13-888

Issue: (1) Whether the Ninth Circuit erred in holding that respondents, in seeking to prove their claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), could invoke the presumption of class-wide reliance approved by this Court for securities claims in Basic Inc. v. Levinson; (2) whether the Ninth Circuit erred in holding that a fiduciary of a company’s employee-retirement plan must act — with respect to publicly-traded securities — on non-public information about the company in order to avoid liability under ERISA; and (3) whether the Ninth Circuit erred in holding that the “presumption of prudence,” which protects ERISA fiduciaries from liability in certain circumstances, applies only if the relevant retirement-plan language requires or encourages a fiduciary to invest in the employer’s own stock.

Analysis

Starting with one unproved claim from an unknown source, letting it lead to a supposition, and then allowing it to justify taking action, the Supreme Court in a closely divided ruling Tuesday gave police broad new authority to turn anonymous tips into traffic stops, and then, often, into arrests.  Dividing five to four, the Court rejected the argument that police must find specific proof of what an anonymous tipster reports before they may stop a motorist on the highway. Continue reading »

This morning, a divided Court upheld an amendment to the Michigan constitution that prohibits the use of affirmative action by public universities in admissions.  Justice Kennedy announced the judgment of the Court in an opinion that was joined by the Chief Justice and Justice Alito.  Justice Scalia filed an opinion, concurring in the judgment only, that was joined by Justice Thomas, while Justice Breyer filed his own opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion (joined by Justice Ginsburg) and summarized her dissent from the bench.

Coverage of the decision comes from this blog, Bloomberg, The New York Times, Detroit Free Press, ABC, CNN, NBC, CBS, the Associated Press (via Yahoo! News), Legal Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Los Angeles Times,  and Politico.

In the blogosphere, additional coverage and commentary come from the Constitution Daily, NPR’s the two-way, National Review Online’s The Corner, ThinkProgress, and the Election Law Blog.

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    In this five-part interview, Orin Kerr of the George Washington University Law School discusses his background in mechanical engineering and the law; clerking for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and Judge Leonard I. Garth of the Third Circuit; working in the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the Department of Justice; and teaching law. Kerr talks about how […]

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