SCOTUS takes Evenwel v. Abbott (Art Lien)

SCOTUS takes Evenwel v. Abbott (Art Lien)

The Constitution has been understood for the past half-century to require that no individual’s vote count more at election time than anyone else’s.  The Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday, for the first time, to clarify how that concept of equality is to be measured, when legislatures are drawing up election districts.

The Court took on a case challenging the 2011 redistricting of the thirty-one seats in the Texas Senate, focusing on what measure of population should be used to judge whether the “one-person, one-vote” mandate has been met.  That mandate originated in Reynolds v. Sims in 1964.  The new case of Evenwel v. Abbott will be heard and decided next Term, as will two new criminal cases the Justices also agreed on Tuesday to hear.

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We are live-blogging this morning as orders and opinions are released. Join us. 

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Tuesday round-up

By on May 26, 2015 at 6:50 am


  • Writing for his eponymous blog, Lyle Denniston reports on a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that “could set up a new attempt by [tobacco] companies to get Supreme Court protection for what they say against themselves in their own promotional messages.”
  • Writing for The National Law Journal (subscription or registration required), Tony Mauro reports on recent comments by presidential candidates (and criticism of those comments) suggesting that they might impose a “litmus test” for potential Supreme Court nominees.
  • At Reuters, Lawrence Hurley explains why “the biggest beneficiary of a win for Texas” in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, in which the Court is considering whether a cause of action based on disparate impact is available under the Fair Housing Act, “could well be Wall Street.”
  • At the blog of the National Conference of State Legislatures, Lisa Soronen analyzes last week’s decision in Comptroller v. Wynne, holding that Maryland’s personal income tax scheme violates the Constitution.
  • Writing for his Election Law Blog, Rick Hasen reports that members of Congress have introduced a new bill intended to “blunt the effect” of a possible ruling in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission striking down the use of independent redistricting commissions to draw boundaries for congressional districts.
  • At Jost on Justice, Kenneth Jost discusses the recent referendum to legalize same-sex marriage in Ireland and contends that, as “[p]olls in the United States show . . . ‘a broad national consensus’ in favor of marriage equality,” the Supreme Court “can stand in the way or it can follow the election returns.”
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This week at the Court

By on May 23, 2015 at 12:01 am

On Monday the Court was closed in observance of Memorial Day.

On Tuesday the Court added three new cases to its docket for next Term; Lyle reported on both the new cases and the order list more generally. The Justices also issued three decisions in argued cases: Kellogg Brown & Root Services v. U.S. ex rel. Carter; Wellness Int’l Network, Limited v. Sharif; and Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems.  


Petition of the day

By on May 22, 2015 at 10:32 pm

The petition of the day is:


Issue: Whether the three-judge district court correctly held that the “one-person, one-vote” principle under the Equal Protection Clause allows States to use total population, and does not require States to use voter population, when apportioning state legislative districts.

The Obama administration notified the Supreme Court on Thursday of two more of its appeals-court victories in the running legal battles over religious groups’ protests against the new birth-control mandate in the federal Affordable Care Act.   It did so in a letter submitted in two cases that have been in a kind of legal limbo at the Court for the past month.

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Friday round-up

By on May 22, 2015 at 8:22 am


  • At his eponymous blog, Lyle Denniston reports that a “federal judge in Mobile ruled on Thursday that same-sex marriage must be available throughout Alabama, for any gay or lesbian couple wishing to apply for a license — but not yet.”
  • At the Special Education Law Blog, Jim Gerl discusses this week’s denial of review in Ridley School District v. M.R., a case involving the “stay put”provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
  • At ACSblog, Gene Nichol criticizes the Court’s campaign finance jurisprudence.
  • At his eponymous blog, David Boyle discusses the oral arguments in the challenges to four states’ bans on same-sex marriage and the recognition thereof.
  • In New York Magazine, Cristian Farias weighs in on this week’s decision in City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan, in which the Court held that two police officers have qualified immunity from a lawsuit filed by a mentally disabled woman whom they shot.
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Relist Watch

By on May 21, 2015 at 1:19 pm

John Elwood reviews Monday’s relisted cases.

Well readers, it’s come and gone. This week’s Mad Men finale signified “the end of an era,” and was, depending on your point of view, ironic, clever, pat, ambiguous, happy and cynical, existentially brilliant, or disturbing, unsettling, and thrilling (presumably all at once). Or, if you didn’t see it at all, perplexing. (For those who missed Sunday night’s episode, you can watch an abridged version here.) That unhappy news, coupled with Letterman’s sign-off this week, is probably going to leave an entertainment void in your lives that we at Relist Watch very much hope to fill with, among other things, enough relists to make you ralph … or, “roger,” as the case may be.

Even with the two-week intermission since the last Conference, the Court didn’t clear out its lingering relists this week. Of last Conference’s eight relisted cases, the court granted one, denied one, and kept six as leftovers, to be boxed and bagged for next week’s consumption. Our lone grant has, much like its namesake, started from the bottom and earned a place at the table through persistence. Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, 14-857, which was once rescheduled before its relist, (fittingly) involves an ad agency that, after being sued for an ill-advised text-message campaign for the U.S. Navy, offered to pay the named plaintiff in a class action more money than he would have been able to gain from litigation. The respondent rebuffed the offer. Campbell-Ewald poses three questions: (1) whether a case becomes moot when the plaintiff receives an offer of complete relief on his claim; (2) whether a case becomes moot when the plaintiff has asserted a class claim but receives an offer of complete relief before any class is certified; and (3) whether the doctrine of sovereign immunity recognized in Yearsley v. W.A. Ross Construction Co. for government contractors is restricted to claims arising out of property damage caused by public works projects. Class-action types are watching this one closely. Continue reading »


At its Conference on May 21, 2015, the Court will consider petitions seeking review of issues such as the constitutionality of the University of Texas at Austin’s consideration of race in its undergraduate admissions process, pretrial restraint of a criminal defendant’s untainted assets under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, and the constitutionality of a Mississippi law requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

This edition of “Petitions to watch” features petitions raising issues that Tom has determined to have a reasonable chance of being granted, although we post them here without consideration of whether they present appropriate vehicles in which to decide those issues.  Our policy is to include and disclose all cases in which Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, represents either a party or an amicus in the case, with the exception of the rare cases in which Goldstein & Russell represents the respondent(s) but does not appear on the briefs in the case.

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Thursday round-up

By on May 21, 2015 at 10:55 am

Monday’s decision in City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan, in which the Court held that two police officers who shot a mentally disabled woman whom they were trying to arrest are entitled to qualified immunity, continues to garner commentary. At Hamilton and Griffin on Rights, Leslie Shoebotham argues that the Court’s dismissal of the first question presented in the case, about whether the Americans with Disabilities Act required the officers to provide accommodations in scenarios like this, left “San Francisco in the position of having secured what had to be . . . an incredibly embarrassing win.” Lisa Soronen analyzes the decision at the Appellate Practice Blog, predicting that “the Court is likely to again hear a case involving the question of whether and when the ADA applies to arrests.” And at PrawfsBlawg, Richard Re weighs in on some of the decision’s “unexpected aspects.” At The Economist’s Democracy in America Blog, Steven Mazie discusses the Court’s decision in Comptroller v. Wynne, striking down a portion of Maryland’s personal income tax scheme; he suggests that it “shows the justices hard at work at the job they were nominated and confirmed to do: interpreting and applying the constitution of the United States.”

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