Event announcement

By on Sep 2, 2015 at 10:14 am

On September 30, the American University Washington College of Law Program on Law and Government and the Law and Government Society will host a panel discussion on the upcoming Supreme Court Term.  Speakers will include Elizabeth Wydra of the Constitutional Accountability Center and Jenny Roberts, Steve Vladeck, and Steve Wermiel of the Washington College of Law.  More details are available on the law school’s website.

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Two years ago, an Alabama county succeeded in persuading the Supreme Court to strike down a major part of the federal Voting Rights Act, easing that county’s legal duties considerably, but a federal appeals court has now decided that — in one sense —  it did not actually win.

That is, the outcome in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013 did not justify giving Shelby County a right to have its attorneys’ fees paid by the federal government — the losing side, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled on Tuesday.

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A federal district court judge in Kentucky on Tuesday ordered a contempt-of-court hearing on Thursday for the county clerk who continued to refuse to issue any marriage licenses, including to same-sex couples.  Judge David L. Bunning told Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and all six of her deputies to be in court in Ashland for the hearing.

The judge acted shortly after lawyers for four same-sex couples formally asked that Davis be held in contempt, and that the judge impose significant and escalating fines to compel her to obey an earlier court order to end her “no-marriage-licenses” policy.  They did not ask that she be jailed.  The attorneys filed that plea soon after the clerk and her deputies again refused license requests by same-sex couples, even though the Supreme Court on Monday had refused to protect her from performing that function of her office.

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Tuesday round-up

By on Sep 1, 2015 at 9:52 am

Yesterday the Court granted an application by former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell to stay out of prison until the Court rules on his appeal.  Lyle Denniston covered the order for this blog, with other coverage coming from Richard Wolf of USA Today. Continue reading »

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Without any sign of dissent, the Supreme Court on Monday evening passed up its first chance to act decisively on the rising religious freedom protest against same-sex marriage.  In a one-sentence order, the Court refused a Kentucky county clerk’s plea for protection from having to issue marriage licenses, including licenses for same-sex partners, to which she objects as a matter of faith.

The Court’s denial order put into effect an order by a federal trial judge in Ashland, Ky., requiring Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to give up her no-licenses policy.   District Judge David L. Bunning had issued the order to implement the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges after the state’s governor ordered all county clerks to give official permission to gay and lesbian couples to wed. Continue reading »

 
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Event announcement

By on Aug 31, 2015 at 4:32 pm

On September 2 at 1 p.m., the State & Local Legal Center will host a webinar on decisions from the past Term which will require local governments to make changes to stay in compliance with the law.  Lisa Soronen will lead the discussion.  More information is available on the Center’s website.

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Raising the chance that the Supreme Court will review his case, former Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell on Monday gained the right to stay out of prison while that appeal goes forward.  In a one-paragraph order, without a noted dissent, the Justices put off the process that could have required his jailing within a matter of days.

The delay will continue until the Court acts finally on the appeal that McDonnell’s lawyers will soon file — either by granting review and deciding the case, or by refusing to hear the appeal.  The earliest that may happen is early next year.

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Monday round-up

By on Aug 31, 2015 at 7:10 am

As Lyle Denniston reported for this blog, last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a federal law prohibiting protests and demonstrations on the Supreme Court’s plaza.  Other coverage comes from Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal (subscription or registration required) and Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal.

At The Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr criticizes last week’s article in The New York Times on recent studies that analyze overlap between the Court’s opinions and briefs submitted to the Court in those cases; the article cited Justice Clarence Thomas as having the highest “overlap” rate among the Justices in the Roberts Court era.  Kerr contends that, if “you look at the data . . . they don’t support the conclusion that Justice Thomas is an outlier.” Similarly, at Crime and Consequences, Kent Scheidegger asserts that “Justice Thomas is barely different at all from Justice Sotomayor and not much different from Justice Ginsburg, a result very different from the initial impression formed by the top of the article.”  Continue reading »

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The blog and Goldstein & Russell, P.C., are looking for someone to serve as both the firm manager for Goldstein & Russell, P.C., and the deputy manager of SCOTUSblog.  The principal responsibilities for this position include, but are not limited to:

  • Coordinating and proofing Supreme Court filings;
  • Paralegal tasks, including drafting simple legal documents, checking citations for accuracy and formatting, and light legal research;
  • Administrative work for the firm and in particular for Tom Goldstein, the firm’s managing partner;
  • Scheduling travel, which may entail making frequent last-minute changes and arrangements, sometimes during off hours;
  • Overseeing all web development for the blog, from strategy and planning to execution by web development team;
  • Assisting the blog manager with case coverage; and
  • Overseeing occasional special projects.

The qualifications for this position include:

  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail;
  • Excellent writing and editing skills;
  • Strong interest in learning about the U.S. Supreme Court and its workings;
  • Undergraduate experience with law-related courses is a plus, though not a requirement, as is an interest in attending law school (part-time students are not eligible for this position); and
  • Ability to improvise; we occasionally need all hands on deck both during and outside of normal business hours.

A commitment of at least two years is required for this position.  To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, transcript (either official or unofficial), and unedited writing sample (no more than five pages) to andrew@goldsteinrussell.com by August 31.  Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience.  This position is in Bethesda, Maryland.

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UPDATED Saturday 7:49 a.m.   Relying upon the history, dating back to America’s founding, of the right of conscience, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis asked the Supreme Court on Friday night to protect her from taking an official action that she regards as an indication that she supports same-sex marriage, an act that would violate her faith.   She wants that temporary shield from issuing any marriage licenses while she pursues an appeal first in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and, if she loses there, the Supreme Court.  A key issue, her application argued, is a new one: whether she has a right to avoid all licensing, avoiding any discrimination, to follow her faith principles.  She also contended that couples seeking to marry in her county suffer no harm from her policy, because they can drive in thirty minutes or less to several neighboring counties where licenses are now available.  Her application, including lower court orders, is here.  The Supreme Court has the option, before acting, of seeking a response from  the couples who sued.

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UPDATED Friday 10:52 p.m.   The application (Davis v. Miller, 15A250) has now been filed at the Court.  The blog will provide a copy as soon as it becomes available.

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A county clerk in Kentucky who stopped issuing any marriage licenses to avoid doing so for same-sex couples — an action that she says would violate her religious beliefs — is taking her case to the Supreme Court.  On Friday, the clerk’s lawyers formally notified a federal judge that they were pursuing an emergency order from the Supreme Court that would allow her to continue her “no licenses” policy.

This would mark the first time that the Court has been asked to take any action on the spreading resistance, based on religious opposition, to the June 26 ruling opening marriage rights to same-sex couples. Continue reading »

 
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