With the filing Tuesday of a one-paragraph notice by state officials in a federal courthouse in Casper, Wyoming, and the release of a two-page order by a federal judge, that state became the thirty-second to allow same-sex marriage — an increase of thirteen from what it was only sixteen days before.

The Wyoming governor and attorney general formally advised a federal judge that they would not appeal his ruling last Friday declaring the state’s ban on same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional.  The only two places where the state could have gone with an appeal would be the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which has struck down two such bans, and the Supreme Court, which has refused even to review or to delay any decisions against those prohibitions.

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Last Term, the Supreme Court issued a higher percentage of unanimous decisions than in any Term since 1940.  The Court was unanimous 62% of the time, and there were dissenting opinions in only 39% of the cases.  Was the 2013 Term an outlier, or is it a harbinger of a new consensus among the Justices?  Cass Sunstein tries to answer that question in his recent article Unanimity and Disagreement on the Supreme Court.

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Tuesday round-up

By on Oct 21, 2014 at 10:01 am

Saturday’s pre-dawn order in the Texas voter identification case continues to garner coverage and commentary.  In the Supreme Court Brief, Tony Mauro reports on recent remarks by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg attributing the Court’s “recent spate of unexplained emergency orders” – including the order allowing Texas to implement its voter ID law over her dissent — to “tremendous time pressure.”  And at his Election Law Blog, Rick Hasen queries whether Ginsburg’s dissent misstates what kinds of identification Texas officials will accept.  Continue reading »

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Petition of the day

By on Oct 20, 2014 at 10:24 pm

The petition of the day is:

14-209

Issue: Whether the Fourth Amendment permits a police officer to request a driver to produce his license during a lawfully-initiated traffic stop but after reasonable suspicion or probable cause has dissipated, where the officer’s conduct is reasonable under the totality of circumstances and the stop is not unreasonably prolonged.

OT2013 opinion announcements

By on Oct 20, 2014 at 10:59 am

At the beginning of every Term, the Court releases the complete recordings of sessions to the National Archives and Records Administration. Oyez has collected these recordings and posted audio of all opinion announcements, including dissents from the bench, from OT2013.

During the last Term, the Court addressed hot-button issues ranging from affirmative action to campaign finance reform, which led some of the Justices to vocalize their dissents. Highlights include:

Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s first dissent from the bench, in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action:

“My colleagues endorse this political restructuring because it is the product of democratic action, but to know the history of our nation is to understand that democratically approved legislation has often discriminated against minorities.”

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The Supreme Court, taking on an issue that reaches hotels and motels across the nation, agreed on Monday to rule on the power of city governments to require commercial lodgings to open their guest lists to the police.  In agreeing to hear a Los Angeles case, the Justices also said they would rule on whether a lawsuit can be filed to use the Fourth Amendment to strike down a police inspection law in its entirety, whatever the factual situation in a given case.

The case of Los Angeles v. Patel was one of three new cases the Justices accepted for review.  The Court also asked for the federal government’s views on whether the Justices should conduct a trial on a claim by Mississippi that the city of Memphis and its water utility, backed by the state of Tennessee, are illegally pumping water out of an underground formation on Mississippi’s side of the border.  In the case of Mississippi v. Tennessee (143 Original), Mississippi is seeking money damages and a court order against further pumping.

Other issues in the newly granted cases focus on whether federal courts have power to order that guns taken from an individual during a drug prosecution should be transferred when the case is over to a neighbor or a friend to whom the owner wanted to sell them (Henderson v. United States), and whether it is unconstitutional for a state court to exclude an accused individual and defense lawyers from a hearing to examine the legality of prosecutors’ exclusion of minority jurors from serving (Chappell v. Ayala).  The Ayala case also includes an issue on the scope of federal appeals courts in habeas cases.  Oral argument in the three new cases is likely in the February sitting, which continues into the first week of March.

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Today’s orders in brief

By on Oct 20, 2014 at 9:40 am

The Court has granted three new cases:

The Court also invited the Solicitor General to file a brief expressing the views of the United States in an original action, a water dispute between Mississippi and Tennessee. Continue reading »

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Monday round-up

By on Oct 20, 2014 at 7:17 am

Most of the weekend coverage of the Court focused on the announcement, which came shortly before dawn on Saturday morning, that the Court would not block Texas from implementing its new voter ID law.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from that order, in an opinion joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.  Lyle Denniston covered the order for this blog; other coverage came from Adam Liptak of The New York Times and Scott Neuman of NPR, while in analysis for the Los Angeles Times, David Savage looked at the relationship between Saturday’s order and the Court’s campaign finance jurisprudence.  Commentary on the Court’s order came from Kenneth Jost at Jost on Justice and from Rick Hasen at Slate, while at his Election Law Blog Hasen discussed the possible reasons why Justice Stephen Breyer did not join the dissent.  In another post, Hasen transcribed remarks by Ginsburg about the Texas order in an interview with NPR’s Nina Totenberg. Continue reading »

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This week at the Court

By on Oct 18, 2014 at 8:37 pm

On Monday morning the Court issued orders from its October 17 Conference. It granted review in three new cases and called for the views of the Solicitor General in one more. The Court’s next Conference is scheduled for October 31. The November sitting begins November 3.

 
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