Editor's Note :

Editor's Note :

The Court has not announced its plans for next week regarding the release of opinions, if any. At this time of the Term, however, it would be unusual if there were none.

At 10 a.m. Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hold oral argument on the latest legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, the new federal health-care law.  The oral arguments in King v. Burwell will feature two high-profile lawyers, Michael A. Carvin of the Washington, D.C., law firm of Jones Day, for the challengers, and U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., defending the subsidy system designed to help millions of consumers afford health insurance.   The hearing is scheduled for one hour, but it may be allowed to run longer, especially since no other cases are up for argument that day.

Background

Five years ago, when Congress finished writing nearly a thousand pages that would become the new national health-care law, it was well aware that the finished product would be subject to strong challenges.  The Affordable Care Act was passed in both houses with not one Republican lawmaker voting for it.  The day after it passed, Republicans introduced a bill to repeal it.  The House has since voted some sixty times for repeal.

Still, the law remains on the books, while controversy goes on, and the Supreme Court has now allowed itself back into the middle of the dispute, for the second time in three years.

Continue reading »

This week at the Court

By on Mar 1, 2015 at 12:01 am

On Monday at 9:30 a.m. we expect orders from the February 27 Conference. The Court has not announced its plans for next week regarding the release of opinions, if any.  At this time of the Term, however, it would be unusual if there were none. This is the second week of the February sitting.

 
Share:

At 11 a.m. Monday, the Supreme Court will hold one hour of oral argument to continue to explore the constitutional right of an accused person to confront at trial the witnesses for the prosecution.  Arguing for the state in Ohio v. Clark will be Matthew E. Meyer of Cleveland, an assistant prosecuting attorney, with twenty minutes of time.  Ilana Eisenstein, an assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General, will have ten minutes to speak for the federal government as an amicus supporting the state.  The accused individual in the case will be represented by Stanford law professor Jeffrey L. Fisher, with thirty minutes of time.

Background

For the past eleven years, the Supreme Court has been defining — one case at a case — how far the Sixth Amendment goes to protect a right of the accused person on trial to confront witnesses who will give evidence to support a guilty verdict.  The process generally has expanded that right, by limiting the use of evidence coming from those who, for some reason, could not show up at the trial, when prosecutors want to use some of what those witnesses had said out of court.

Next week, the Court confronts the difficult question about what to do when the evidence at trial would be provided by school teachers and social workers who interviewed a three-and-a-half-year-old boy about alleged abuse, with the boy himself not appearing at the trial.

Continue reading »

 
Share:

Petition of the day

By on Feb 27, 2015 at 10:10 pm

The petition of the day is:

14-723

Issue: Whether, under the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), a lawsuit by an ERISA fiduciary against a participant to recover an alleged overpayment by the plan seeks “equitable relief” within the meaning of ERISA section 502(a)(3), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(3), if the fiduciary has not identified a particular fund that is in the participant's possession and control at the time the fiduciary asserts its claim.

This week’s argument audio

By on Feb 27, 2015 at 9:13 pm

Oyez has posted audio recordings and transcripts of this week’s arguments.
The Court heard arguments this week in:

Posted in Everything Else
 
Share:

The Court has announced that it will be posting the merits briefs in the same-sex marriage casesObergfell v. Hodges, Tanco v. Haslam, DeBoer v. Snyder, and Bourke v. Beshear. The petitioners’ opening briefs were due at 2 p.m. today and will be available on the Court’s homepage once they have been officially filed.

Posted in Merits Cases
 
Share:

At 10 a.m. Monday, the Supreme Court will hear one hour of oral argument on the power of voters to take away from state legislatures the task of drawing new election district maps.  In Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, the lawmakers will be represented by Paul D. Clement of the Washington, D.C., law firm of Bancroft PLLC, with thirty minutes of time.  Dividing time on the other side will be Eric J. Feigin, an assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General, representing the federal government as an amicus supporting the redistricting commission, and Seth P. Waxman of the Washington, D.C., office of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr, speaking for the commission.  Feigin will have ten minutes of time and Waxman, twenty.

Background

From time to time, at least since 1898, the people in America’s states have decided to take government into their own hands, withdrawing it from elected politicians when the voters think they have done the job badly, or not at all.  “Direct democracy” has cycles of popularity, and may be in a new one now, as political polarization spreads worry that elected lawmakers think party first and public good second.  The Supreme Court looks into such a reclaiming of people power next week.

Continue reading »

Scholars are now analyzing Supreme Court opinions for their style as well as their substance.    Keith Carlson (a computer scientist), Michael A. Livermore (a law professor), and Daniel Rockmore (a mathematician) have just posted on SSRN a quantitative analysis of the writing style of all Supreme Court opinions between 1791 and 2008. Their study provides some interesting data for avid SCOTUS watchers:  They ranked each Justice by the “friendliness” of their opinions, noted changes in the complexity of Court’s use of language, and found evidence to suggest that the Justices are relying more heavily on law clerks to draft their opinions.

Continue reading »

 
Share:

Whether deservedly or not, an opinion by Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt granting habeas relief to a state prisoner notwithstanding the deferential approach mandated by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) is often fodder for terse – if not summary – reversals by the Supreme Court. But Davis v. Ayala, which is scheduled for oral argument before the Justices next Tuesday, comes to the Court with a twist of the Justices’ own making: Rather than simply granting the single, AEDPA-based question presented by California’s petition for certiorari, the Justices added a second question to the case – one that, properly understood, may well signal the Supreme Court’s inclination to dig into some of the merits of respondent Hector Ayala’s habeas claim, and not just provide another reprimand to the Ninth Circuit for a lack of fealty to AEDPA. And although California may well prevail on those merits, the potential significance of the Justices even reaching the substance of Ayala’s claims could yield the most significant habeas decision of the current Term. Continue reading »

 
Share:

Relist Watch

By on Feb 27, 2015 at 9:15 am

John Elwood reviews Monday’s relisted cases.

It has been a rough month since our last installment. Much of the country, from the Dakotas to Dallas, has seen record low temperatures, causing pipes to burst, and creating icy roads and massive pile-ups. Boston has endured more snowfall than at any time since wooly mammoths roamed the area. On several occasions, the D.C. area received as much as three-quarters of a centimeter of snow, causing even less to get done than usual. But on the other hand, we made it almost all the way through February without Relist Watch, so things have been pretty good overall. Continue reading »

 
Share:
More Posts: Older Posts
Term Snapshot
Awards