When the government has a dog of a case, someone has to draw the short straw and argue it. In Henderson v. United States, Assistant to the Solicitor General Ann O’Connell drew that straw. It seems clear that the Court will side with petitioner Tony Henderson – a felon seeking the right to sell or otherwise dispose of firearms that he owns but can no longer legally possess. In offering concession after concession and various fallback options, the government offered a case study in controlled implosions.
We are live blogging this morning as opinions are issued; please click here to be taken to the live blog.
The February sitting is now well underway. Yesterday the Court issued its opinion in the water rights dispute Kansas v. Nebraska. Jeremy Jacobs reports for Greenwire that “[a] majority of the justices held that Nebraska knowingly violated an interstate compact governing the river, depriving Kansas of water that should have flowed over the states’ border.”
Today the Court will hear oral arguments in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, in which it will consider whether the retailer discriminated against a Muslim teenager when it refused to hire her because she wore a headscarf. Lyle Denniston previewed the case for this blog, while I added our coverage in Plain English. Other coverage comes from Richard Wolf of USA Today and Lawrence Hurley of Reuters. Continue reading »
The petition of the day is:
Religion has been a hot topic at the Supreme Court recently. Last year, the Justices ruled that a town council could start its meetings with a prayer and also that a corporation owned by a devoutly religious family cannot be required to provide its female employees with health insurance that includes access to birth control that the employer equated with abortion. And earlier this year, it ruled that Arkansas cannot bar a Muslim inmate from growing the short beard that he believes his religion requires. The latest chapter on the role of religion in our daily lives comes tomorrow, when the Court hears oral arguments in the case of a Muslim woman whom the retail chain Abercrombie & Fitch declined to hire because she wore a headscarf. Let’s talk about EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch in Plain English. Continue reading »
Answering a question from a member of Congress, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said on Tuesday that the Obama administration would have no way to fix “the massive damage” if the Supreme Court were to strike down the current system of subsidies for those who need financial help to buy health insurance. Her letter (with the identity of the House member deleted) can be read here.
Shortly after 10 a.m. on Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hold one hour of oral argument on the scope of an employer’s legal duty to make room in the workplace for individuals with religious beliefs that may conflict with job needs. Arguing for the federal government in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., will be Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Ian H. Gershengorn. Representing the retail store chain will be Shay Dvoretzky of the Washington, D.C., office of the Jones Day law firm. Each will have thirty minutes of time.
Can a retail store’s dress code for its sales clerks get the management into legal trouble? Potentially, it can, if the code conflicts with the religious scruples of a worker seeking a job — at least if the store can find a way to respect those beliefs without seriously disrupting its retailing approach.
What the Supreme Court is now confronting is how courts should sort out the duty to show that respect: must the job applicant specifically make her private religious needs known up front, or must the company make its policies clear, so that an applicant knows what is required and can ask for an accommodation?