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

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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):

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This morning the Court issued a unanimous decision in McDonnell v. United States, invalidating the federal corruption convictions of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell. Coverage of the opinion comes from Lyle Denniston for this blog, Amy Howe at her own blog, Eyder Peralta of NPR, Pete Williams of NBC News, Lydia Wheeler of The Hill, Ariane de Vogue and Tal Kopan of CNN, Adam Liptak of The New York Times, Lawrence Hurley and David Ingram of Reuters, Fredreka Schouten of USA Today, Brent Kendall of The Wall Street Journal, Robert Barnes of The Washington Post, Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, David G. Savage of the Los Angeles Times, Sam Hananel of the Associated Press, Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed, Josh Gerstein of Politico, Greg Stohr and David McLaughlin of Bloomberg, Cristian Farias of The Huffington Post, Debra Cassens Weiss of ABA Journal, Daniel Fisher of Forbes, Ben Mathis-Lilley of Slate, and Bill Mears of Fox News.

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This morning the Court issued a five-to-three opinion in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, striking down as unconstitutional two provisions of a Texas law regulating abortions in that state.  Lyle Denniston covered the ruling for this blog. Other early coverage comes from Camila Domonoske of NPR; Pete Williams of NBC News; Sarah Ferris of The Hill; Ariane de Vogue, Tal Kopan, and Dan Berman of CNN; Adam Liptak of The New York Times, as well as Manny Fernandez and Abby Goodnough and Ford Fessenden; Lawrence Hurley of Reuters; Richard Wolf of USA Today; Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal, as well as Siobhan Hughes; Robert Barnes and Mark Berman of The Washington Post, as well as Kim Soffen.  Other coverage from The Post comes from Ariana Eunjung Cha, Denise Lu and Sandhya Somashekhar, who examine abortion regulations around the country, and Danielle Paquette, who discusses Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s concurrence.  Still more coverage comes from David G. Savage of the Los Angeles Times; Mark Sherman of the Associated Press; Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed; Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico; Greg Stohr of Bloomberg; Cristian Farias of The Huffington Post, as well as Laura Bassett; Debra Cassens Weiss of ABA Journal; Daniel Fisher of Forbes; Tony Mauro and Marcia Coyle for Law.com; Mark Joseph Stern of Slate; Ed Kilgore for NY Mag; Caitlin MacNeal for TPM; Julie Rovner for NPR; and Bill Mears and Shannon Bream of Fox News.

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David H. Gans is the Director of the Human Rights, Civil Rights & Citizenship Program at the Constitutional Accountability Center.

In a huge win for women’s liberty, equality, and dignity, the Supreme Court today reaffirmed that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose abortion and held that courts have an obligation to carefully review state regulation of abortion to ensure that it respects the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of liberty for all. Overturning a ruling by the Fifth Circuit, which had rubber-stamped Texas laws that would have closed abortion clinics across the state, Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion made clear that courts have an obligation to strike down as unconstitutional state laws that burden women’s access to abortion without any convincing justification.   This kind of careful review has long been required when states burden fundamental constitutional rights. Today’s ruling applies this same basic principle to the right to choose abortion, striking down state efforts to subject that right to a death by a thousand cuts. Significantly, Justice Anthony Kennedy – who had only once before voted to strike down a state law regulating abortion – joined the majority in full.

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Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School; he blogs at Dorf on Law and is the co-author of the book Beating Hearts: Abortion & Animal Rights (2016).

During the oral argument last year in Glossip v. Gross, Justice Samuel Alito accused the lawyers arguing that Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol was unconstitutional of trying to take advantage of a “guerilla war against the death penalty” by pressuring companies to make tested drugs unavailable and then challenging the untested substitute drugs as too risky. Alito apparently believed that the case against lethal injection was pretextual, that the real target was capital punishment itself. Because neither he nor the other four Justices in the Glossip majority were willing to invalidate the death penalty itself, they were not inclined to take seriously the arguments that the Oklahoma protocol was unconstitutional either.

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Relist Watch

By on Jun 27, 2016 at 4:47 pm

John Elwood reviews Monday’s relisted cases.

Before clearing out of town for the summer recess, the Justices gathered for one final Conference today. Below are the relisted cases that they considered at that Conference. We’ll find out tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. whether any of these cases made the cut.

Thanks to Bryan U. Gividen for once again compiling this update. And thanks to the rest of the Relist Watch gang – Stephen Gilstrap, Ralph Mayrell, Conor McEvily, and Dmitry Slavin – for everything they did this Term. It’s a tremendous amount of work with very little payoff but at least . . . well, there’s nothing good that can be said about it.

See you in the fall (probably)!

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We’re down to the last day of the Term. Outside the Court building, loud demonstrators have taken to the sidewalk in anticipation of the abortion decision. But inside the courtroom, all is cool and even serene.

The public gallery is full, except for some seats between the columns that will be filled with a lucky last group of spectators just before the Justices take the bench. The bar section, as is often the case in the final days of the Term, is not full at all.

Wide-shot of courtroom on last day of opinions, 2015-16 Term

Wide-shot of courtroom on last day of opinions, October Term 2015 (Art Lien)

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