Pete Patterson and John Ohlendorf are attorneys at the Washington, D.C. law firm Cooper & Kirk, PLLC, which filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee supporting Governor McDonnell. The views expressed here are their own.

The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in McDonnell v. United States is a significant victory for the authority of the states to regulate the conduct of their own elected officials. It also is a significant defeat for the federal government’s efforts to transform federal bribery law into a comprehensive code of good government for local and state officials. By adopting a sensible interpretation of the reach of federal bribery law, the Court has done much to cabin the temptation for federal prosecutors in this politically charged context to pick defendants they think they should get, rather than cases that need to be prosecuted.

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We live-blogged this morning as the Court issued orders. The transcript is available at this link.

Posted in Live

Tuesday round-up

By on Jun 28, 2016 at 7:30 am

Yesterday the Court issued decisions in three cases.  In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, it struck down two provisions of a Texas law regulating abortions.  Molly Runkle rounded up early coverage for this blog, with other coverage coming from NPR’s Nina Totenberg, Erik Eckholm of The New York Times, and Howard Fischer for the Arizona Capitol Times, who focuses on the ruling’s effect in that state.  Coverage focused on the decision and the 2016 presidential campaign comes from Alan Rappeport of The New York Times, Nolan McCaskill and Nick Gass of Politico,and Sarah Ferris of The Hill, while Amber Phillips of The Washington Post interviews Texas state senator Wendy Davis, who filibustered the law for eleven hours in 2013. Continue reading »

Posted in Round-up

Petition of the day

By on Jun 27, 2016 at 11:24 pm

The petition of the day is:


Issue: Whether, under this Court’s decision in Daimler AG v. Bauman, personal jurisdiction may be asserted over a corporate defendant only in the defendant’s place of incorporation or principal place of business, except in extraordinary circumstances.

Menu of today’s content

By on Jun 27, 2016 at 9:12 pm

This morning the Court issued its three final opinions in argued cases for the Term:

  • Voisine v. United States, holding that a domestic-violence conviction is a misdemeanor crime of violence for purposes of limiting access to firearms;
  • Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, holding that Texas’s admitting-privileges and surgical-center requirements place a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion, constitute an undue burden on abortion access, and thus violate the Constitution;
  • McDonnell v. United States, holding that political-corruption prosecution requires that the government official took formal action on a pending matter; the Court vacated the jury instructions and required a retrial in Governor Bob McDonnell’s corruption case.

Lyle provides our coverage in McDonnell v. United States and also in Whole Woman’s Health. Rory Little reports on the decision in Voisine. Molly rounded up other early coverage of Whole Woman’s Health and Voisine and McDonnell.

Mark Walsh provides a “view” from the Courtroom, while Jennifer Prohov presents a photographic view from outside the Court.

John Elwood composes a Relist Watch in advance of tomorrow’s orders.

Tom posted on our annual “running of the trolls” on Twitter, as well as the technological problems that ensued.

We are also hosting two symposia, on the rulings in Whole Woman’s Health and McDonnell. The contributions to those symposia are available here and here, respectively.

Posted in Everything Else

In a straightforward six-two decision in Voisine v. United States, the Court ruled on the last opinion day of the Term that Congress’s 1996 extension of a firearms prohibition to persons convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” includes “reckless” state misdemeanor offenses. Justice Elena Kagan’s majority opinion broadly invoked the mental-state definitions proposed in the American Law Institute’s 1962 Model Penal Code, and concluded that Congress intended to rely on those concepts when it enacted the domestic-violence firearms prohibition. The Court also concluded that Congress could not have intended to exclude the misdemeanor domestic-violence offenses that allow for “reckless” convictions in some thirty-five state and other jurisdictions. Although the opinion expressly restricts its ruling to the specific 1996 federal statute at issue (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9)), much of the Court’s analysis seems applicable to the broader question of whether the federal definition of “crime of violence” in 18 U.S.C. § 16 – which uses the same phrase interpreted today – “embraces reckless conduct.”

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Jessica Pieklo is Vice President of Law and the Courts at Rewire.

Nearly sixteen years to the day from the last Supreme Court ruling in support of abortion rights and it is Justice Stephen Breyer, again, leading the push back against state-level abortion restrictions. Only unlike his majority opinion in Stenberg v. Carhart, which struck as unconstitutional Nebraska’s so-called “partial birth abortion ban” and opens with a concession that the Court understands “the controversial nature of the [abortion] problem,” then practically apologizes for describing the details of the specific abortion procedure at issue, Monday’s opinion in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt does just the opposite. It embraces, entirely, the reality that abortion is a fundamental right, a medical procedure that one in three women will need in their lifetime, and should not therefore be subject to the regulatory whims of anti-abortion lawmakers.

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Hampton Dellinger is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP.

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court retracted congressionally enacted floodgates meant to curb money in politics. In the case of former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell, the Justices faced the question of what deep-pocketed corporations and individuals – willing to offer campaign contributions or personal gifts to a public servant in an understood exchange for that official’s help – can lawfully buy. The Court’s unanimous answer: a lot.

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Supreme Court 6/27/16 Decisions

Posted in Everything Else

Twitter debacle

By on Jun 27, 2016 at 6:03 pm

Update (7:40 p.m.): Twitter has reactivated our @SCOTUSblog account and restored the deleted tweets.

Today we had our annual running of the trolls — wherein we respond to people who direct mostly hateful and sometimes cute things to our @SCOTUSblog account, thinking it is the official Twitter account of the Supreme Court.  We’ve done this for several Terms without incident.  But this Term, Twitter — probably through some automated system — decided that our account had been hacked.  So it kicked us out of our account — thinking we were the hackers — and then blocked all the tweets, so they have disappeared.  We’re trying to get our account back — so far without success.  But for posterity, and for those who thought we had deleted the tweets ourselves, here are some screen shots captured from our Twitter followers (many others are blocked by Twitter so even retweets don’t show them):



Posted in Everything Else
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