Tuesday round-up

By on Jul 7, 2015 at 9:07 am

End-of-Term overviews come from Nina Totenberg of NPR, who describes the October Term 2014 as a “historic term, a surprisingly liberal term – and a nasty term.”  And C-Span has video of a panel featuring a group of Supreme Court reporters discussing the just-ended Term and making predictions for next year.

Other coverage of and commentary on the Court focus on criticism of the Court by Republican presidential candidates.  At Yahoo! News, staff of the National Constitution Center discuss calls by Mike Huckabee for term limits, while Katie Zezima of The Washington Post reports on Ted Cruz’s advocacy for judicial retention elections. Continue reading »


Monday round-up

By on Jul 6, 2015 at 10:52 am

End-of-Term overviews continue to pour in.  Adam Liptak discusses the Term in an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, in which he notes that, although political scientists will say that the just-ended Term was a “liberal Term for the ages,” all of that could change next Term.  In The National Law Journal (subscription or registration required), Marcia Coyle and Tony Mauro observe that several of the Court’s high-profile decisions “revealed deep divisions among the justices – not just between the left and right sides of the bench, but often within the Court’s conservative wing.”  Lawrence Hurley of Reuters looks at the Obama administration’s Term (with a graphic), describing it as one in which the administration “wins big and loses small.”    Continue reading »

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This week at the Court

By on Jul 5, 2015 at 12:01 am

The Court is in summer recess.


Friday round-up

By on Jul 3, 2015 at 8:54 am

With the Court now in its summer recess, some coverage and commentary focus on overviews of the Term more generally.  NPR’s Nina Totenberg and this blog’s Tom Goldstein discuss the Term with Robert Siegel, while at the Los Angeles Times David Savage observes that “perhaps the biggest dynamic driving this term was overreaching by the Court’s conservative justices.”  In Education Week, Mark Walsh looks at the Term from an education perspective, noting that even when the Court is not “weighing cases directly involving education, many of its decisions reach into the schools”; another post excerpts rulings in education-related cases, accompanied by sketches by Art Lien.  MoloLamken analyzes the Court’s business docket, while at Slate, Marty Lederman discusses some of the Term’s biggest surprises. Continue reading »

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The Supreme Court on Thursday narrowed somewhat its plan to review the work of the independent Arizona agency that drew new election districts for the state legislature after the latest census.  In a new order, the Court said it would not be ruling on a complaint that the agency wrongly created districts to give Hispanic voters more political power.

On Tuesday, the Court accepted an appeal in Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, without limiting the questions at issue.  Thursday’s order drops off the third question that the challenging voters had raised.

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Event announcement

By on Jul 2, 2015 at 10:30 am

On July 9, the Heritage Foundation will host its annual “Scholars and Scribes” review of the Court’s Term. The event consists of two panels, running from 11 a.m.to 1 p.m. For a list of panelists, a link to live stream, or to RSVP to attend, visit the Heritage Foundation’s website.


Thursday round-up

By on Jul 2, 2015 at 8:31 am

Commentary on last week’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage and the recognition thereof, continues to pour in.  At Hamilton and Griffin on Rights, Ruben Garcia suggests that the dissenting Justices “see the stigma of being viewed as a bigot for being against same-sex marriage as worse than the stigma of being denied marriage,” while in an op-ed for the Boston Globe Kent Greenfield argues that the difference between Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion for the Court and the dissent of Chief Justice John Roberts “is empathy, and lack thereof.”  At Slate, Brianne Gorod discusses the importance of the Obama administration’s decision not to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act for last week’s ruling, while casetext compiles its commentary on the ruling.  Continue reading »

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Wednesday round-up

By on Jul 1, 2015 at 9:06 am

Yesterday the Court added five new cases to its docket for next Term.  Lyle Denniston covered the order list for this blog.  The Court’s announcement that it had granted review in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a challenge to compulsory fees for public-sector unions, garnered the most attention.  Lyle Denniston covered the grant for this blog; other coverage comes from Mark Walsh at Education Week’s School Law Blog, while commentary comes from Deborah LaFetra at the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Liberty Blog and Moshe Marvit at Talking Points Memo.  Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services reports on the Court’s grant in a challenge to the legislative boundaries drawn by Arizona’s independent redistricting commission; Rick Hasen also discusses the grant at his Election Law BlogContinue reading »

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Fifteen years ago, Arizona voters took a drastic step to deal with partisanship in drawing the lines for federal congressional districts: they passed an amendment to the state constitution that transferred the redistricting power from the state legislature, which had previously controlled it, to an independent commission. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that the legislature objected to being cut out of the process and filed a lawsuit, which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The legislature alleged that tasking the commission with redistricting violates the U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause, which provides that the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for . . . Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof” – because the phrase “the Legislature” can only refer to the official body that makes laws for the state.

Yesterday the Supreme Court rejected the legislature’s argument, in a decision that will be welcomed by many not only in Arizona, where the independent redistricting commission can continue to operate, but also in other states (including California) that also use commissions for redistricting. Let’s talk about the ruling in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in Plain English. Continue reading »

Steven D. Schwinn is an Associate Professor of Law at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

In early 2014, Oklahoma had a problem. The state planned to execute Clayton Lockett with a three-drug lethal injection cocktail, but its sources for its critical first drug dried up. The first drug, traditionally a barbiturate, is supposed to render a condemned sufficiently insensate so as not to feel the excruciating pain of the second and third drugs, which paralyze the body and induce cardiac arrest. Without the first drug, the second and third drugs would produce a level of pain that would violate the Eighth Amendment.

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