Friday round-up

By on Jul 1, 2016 at 7:43 am

In a podcast for the Constitution Center, Carrie Severino and Michael Dorf try to “make sense of an unpredictable year” at the Court, while Sullivan & Cromwell looks back at the business cases at the Court. In The Economist, Steven Mazie contends that the “justice responsible for steering the court to the left was Anthony Kennedy, Scalia’s fellow Ronald Reagan nominee,” while in The New Yorker Jeffrey Toobin suggests that there was “so much drama” at the Court this Term “that it was possible to miss a curious subplot: the full flowering of Justice Clarence Thomas’s judicial eccentricity.” Continue reading »

Posted in Everything Else

With the close of the Supreme Court’s Term, Don Verrilli has concluded his tenure as Solicitor General.

Verrilli has served as the government’s top lawyer at the Court since 2011, arguing a number of landmark cases there. With Verrilli as Solicitor General, the Obama administration fended off challenges to both the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and tax credits for Americans who purchase health insurance on an exchange. He also advocated in favor of same-sex marriage, describing it as a fundamental matter of “human dignity.”

While the Obama administration may have succeeded in these matters, it also suffered some significant losses. The Court was not persuaded by Verrilli’s argument in defense of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, invalidating the formula used to determine which state and local governments must comply with the act’s preclearance requirement. Just last week, the Court divided four to four on whether the executive branch has the authority to adopt a policy deferring the deportation of some undocumented immigrants.

Verrilli may have served during a dramatic — and even turbulent — time, but he characterizes his own approach as tending more toward the restrained. Verrilli sat down with SCOTUSblog on June 24, his final day, to discuss his experience leading the office.

Continue reading »


Thursday round-up

By on Jun 30, 2016 at 8:00 am

Coverage of and commentary on the Court looks back at the Term that just ended.  In Los Angeles Times, David Savage reports on the “alliance” between two Justices from California:  Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer.  In a story for The National Law Journal (subscription or registration required), Tony Mauro looks at how business interests fared at the Court this Term, while he and Marcia Coyle have a second story at (subscription required) with “nine takeaways” from the Term.  At Bench Memos, Mark Pulliam suggests that “one thing is clear: Justice Kennedy is rapidly rising in the pantheon of Bad Supreme Court Picks. This will be Kennedy’s ignominious legacy.”

Continue reading »

Posted in Round-up

Final October Term 2015 Stat Pack

By on Jun 29, 2016 at 11:25 pm

Today I am happy to present the final SCOTUSblog Stat Pack for October Term 2015. This year, the fifty-page Stat Pack includes information about, among other things, the rate of unanimity, the number of opinions written by each Justice, agreement among different Justices, and how opinions were distributed in each sitting.

You can download the Stat Pack in its entirety here. You can also view each section of the Stat Pack individually below. Continue reading »

Posted in Featured

Petition of the day

By on Jun 29, 2016 at 11:11 pm

The petition of the day is:


Issue: Whether a U.S. citizen may bring a Bivens claim in the absence of any other remedy when federal law enforcement officers unlawfully detain and grossly mistreat him during a criminal counterterrorism investigation abroad.

Event announcement

By on Jun 29, 2016 at 4:55 pm

On July 5 at 12 p.m., the DC Bar will offer a “view from the press gallery” on the recently concluded Supreme Court Term. Speakers will include Ariane de Vogue, Adam Liptak, Tony Mauro, and David Savage; Arthur Spitzer will serve as moderator. More information about this event, which will be held at the offices of Arnold & Porter LLP in Washington, D.C., is available here.


Wednesday round-up

By on Jun 29, 2016 at 3:36 pm

More coverage relating to Monday’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, in which the Court struck down two provisions of a Texas law regulating abortions, comes from NPR’s Nina Totenberg; David Crary of the Associated Press; and Emily Crockett, who reports for Vox on the decision’s effects on similar laws in other states.

Commentary comes from Michael Dorf, who at Verdict argues that there “is no evidence of procedural bad faith on the part of the majority”; Julia Quinn, who at If When How discusses being on the Court’s plaza when the ruling was issued on Monday; Jessica Valenti, who in The Guardian interprets the ruling as “a powerful message”; Steven Mazie, who in The Economist concludes that there were “no great surprises” in the decision; and Sarah Kliff of Vox, who contends that – despite Monday’s decision — the “abortion rights movement isn’t winning.” Continue reading »

Posted in Round-up

Misha Tseytlin is Solicitor General of the State of Wisconsin.

In a symposium article for this blog posted in advance of the oral argument in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, I explained that for the abortion industry to win this case, the Supreme Court would have to adopt a more searching level of scrutiny for abortion regulations than it has for laws affecting other sorts of businesses. I argued that this would be an unfortunate and inequitable approach.

In a critical portion of its opinion invalidating Texas’s requirement that abortion providers must obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals, a majority of the Supreme Court confirmed this concern. Responding to the argument that mandating admitting privileges furthers the goal of stopping another Dr. Kermit Gosnell from slipping through the cracks in the regulatory artifice – because, after all, a local hospital may well know if a monster like Gosnell was regularly sending women to its emergency room – the Court offered the following response:

Gosnell’s behavior was terribly wrong. But there is no reason to believe that an extra layer of regulation would have affected that behavior. Determined wrongdoers, already ignoring existing statutes and safety measures, are unlikely to be convinced to adopt safe practices by a new overlay of regulations.

Continue reading »

As Lyle previewed in his lovely piece this weekend, the end of this Term is a turning point for SCOTUSblog.  We say a fond goodbye to our longtime reporter Lyle Denniston, and we welcome our current editor Amy Howe into that role.  Our access to the Court’s proceedings will be unaffected.  We plan to announce the hire of a new editor in the next few weeks.

The fact that this transition has been shaped for more than a year does not make it easier.  As I often say, Lyle is the beating heart of the blog.  It is impossible to overstate the importance of his role.

Lyle joined us more than a decade ago.  His arrival marked – and probably caused – the blog’s evolution into a serious news organization.  Lyle obviously brought with him a great deal of knowledge about the Court, but – just as important – every fiber of his being pulsed as a newsman.  His objectivity, the clarity of his writing, and his work ethic set the standard for the entire staff.

I confess that in the early days I questioned how a reporter from an earlier generation with such great experience would adapt to the technology and format of blogging.  The answer was stark.  Lyle has not been wedded to the ways of an earlier era; exactly the opposite.  He has thrived in the ability to communicate directly and immediately with his readers.

The evidence is everywhere.  Lyle wrote the great majority of the blog’s most important posts over the past ten years.  He was the hub of all of our real-time reporting on orders and opinions.  It is difficult to imagine a multi-person news operation that is more directly associated with one person.

As Lyle has explained, he will now move on to other challenges.  As his publisher, I have only one piece of advice for those who have the privilege of working with him in the future:  just stay out of his way.  I did my very best work when I did nothing at all and simply let Lyle use his skill, knowledge, and hard work communicate with the readers.  All of us hope that he will continue to do so for another fifty years.

Posted in Everything Else

Tara Malloy is Deputy Executive Director of the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the conviction of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell on eleven counts of bribery-related charges, holding that his trial proceeded under an overly expansive reading of the “official act” element of the federal bribery statute. The Court’s remand order leaves the door open for a retrial under a narrower standard, but all in all, it was a good day for the governor and a bad day for public-corruption prosecutions. Mostly, though, it was a bad day for Americans, as eight Supreme Court Justices all but told us that we must tolerate some level of “pay to play” politics in democratic governance.

Continue reading »

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