Friday round-up

By on Aug 23, 2019 at 6:50 am

Briefly:

  • Amy Howe reports for this blog that last night, the Supreme Court declined to block the execution of Florida death-row inmate Gary Bowles, who had claimed, among other things, that he could not be executed because he was intellectually disabled; “[t]here was no indication that any justice had dissented from the orders, although Justice Sonia Sotomayor did issue a statement regarding the court’s decision not to intervene.”
  • At The Daily Caller, Kevin Daley reports that “Adnan Syed, the Maryland inmate whose murder conviction became a true crime sensation, [has] brought his bid for a new trial to the Supreme Court.”
  • Hayley Harding reports at the Idaho Statesman (via How Appealing) that “Boise formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court [yesterday] to consider its appeal in the case of Martin v. Boise, the ‘camping lawsuit’ that arose from enforcement of a city ordinance that banned people who are homeless from sleeping in public places.”

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The Supreme Court today rejected pleas by Florida death-row inmate Gary Bowles to block his execution. The execution was originally scheduled for 6 p.m. EDT tonight, but – in the wake of two late filings – the justices did not act on Bowles’ requests until after 10 p.m. EDT. There was no indication that any justice had dissented from the orders, although Justice Sonia Sotomayor did issue a statement regarding the court’s decision not to intervene. Sotomayor described the Florida Supreme Court’s requirement that Bowles should have raised his claim that he cannot be executed because he is intellectually disabled earlier as “Kafkaesque,” but she ultimately did “not disagree with” the court’s decision to deny review. The Associated Press reported that Bowles was executed by lethal injection shortly before 11 p.m. EDT.  Continue reading »

Petitions of the week

By on Aug 22, 2019 at 11:00 am

This week we highlight petitions pending before the Supreme Court that address the constitutionality of the federal criminal prohibition against encouraging or inducing illegal immigration for commercial advantage or private financial gain, the availability of a suit seeking monetary damages against individual federal employees under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and whether Heck v. Humphrey bars Section 1983 claims for damages in mixed-sanctions cases in certain circumstances.

The petitions of the week are:

19-47

Issue: Whether Heck v. Humphrey bars Section 1983 claims for damages in mixed-sanctions cases when the inmate challenges only the nondurational elements of the sanction, expressly forfeiting the right to challenge any addition to the length of his criminal sentence.

19-67

Issue: Whether the federal criminal prohibition against encouraging or inducing illegal immigration for commercial advantage or private financial gain, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) and (B)(i), is facially unconstitutional.

19-71

Issue: Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, permits suits seeking money damages against individual federal employees.

Thursday round-up

By on Aug 22, 2019 at 6:48 am

Briefly:

  • For The Washington Post, Robert Barnes writes that “[d]ifferences between the Trump administration and the Obama administration … will be front and center in the most important cases on the Supreme Court’s docket this fall.”
  • At Rolling Stone, Andrew Cohen draws from recent Supreme Court death-penalty cases to consider how Chief Justice John Roberts and the court’s newest justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, might approach an appeal by federal-death-row inmate Alfred Bourgeois, “who say[s] he cannot be executed because he is ‘intellectually disabled,’” “in the wake of the administration’s announcement that it will begin executing federal prisoners once again.”
  • At the Florida Court Review, John Cavaliere looks at the stay applications and cert petitions filed by Florida death-row inmate Gary Bowles, who is scheduled to be executed tonight unless the Supreme Court intervenes.

We rely on our readers to send us links for our round-up. If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, podcast or op-ed relating to the Supreme Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at] scotusblog.com. Thank you!

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The Supreme Court this evening denied the application for stay of execution and petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by Larry Swearingen in the capital case Swearingen v. Texas, 19-5640. Texas executed Swearingen, who was sentenced to death for the 1998 murder of Melissa Trotter, by lethal injection at 6:35 p.m. CDT.

Wednesday round-up

By on Aug 21, 2019 at 6:45 am

Briefly:

  • Ariane de Vogue reports at CNN that “[t]he Justice Department told the Supreme Court late Monday night that the Trump administration acted lawfully when it decided in 2017 to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation.”
  • At Bloomberg Law, Jake Holland spotlights the Supreme Court litigation clinics that have “cropped up at top law schools across the country, provid[ing] quality representation to groups who can least afford it and act[ing] as a pipeline to elite appellate work, including at the U.S. Supreme Court.”
  • At AP, Mark Sherman and Jessica Gresko write that while “[d]ozens of legal briefs supporting fired funeral director Aimee Stephens at the Supreme Court use ‘she’ and ‘her’ to refer to the transgender woman,” “the Trump administration and the Michigan funeral home where Stephens worked avoid gender pronouns, repeatedly using Stephens’ name”: … “Decisions about gender pronouns may seem minor, but they appear to reflect the larger issues involved in this high-stakes battle.” [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is counsel on an amicus brief in support of respondent Stephens in this case.]

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This week on SCOTUStalk, Amy Howe of Howe on the Court continues her series interviewing Supreme Court advocates. In this episode, William M. Jay discusses his career arguing 17 cases before the court. Jay is a partner at Goodwin and previously served for five years as an Assistant to the Solicitor General.

Listen on Pippa | Spotify

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Tuesday round-up

By on Aug 20, 2019 at 6:56 am

Briefly:

  • At Bloomberg Law, Jordan Rubin reports that “[a] Maryland murder case that garnered nationwide attention after a hit podcast raised questions about its subject’s guilt landed on Monday at the U.S. Supreme Court.”
  • Ariane de Vogue reports at CNN that “[t]he Trump administration reiterated to the Supreme Court on Friday that it does not believe that federal employment law that bans discrimination based on sex also encompasses discrimination based on transgender status … in the latest filing in one of the most important cases of the upcoming Supreme Court term,” G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is counsel on an amicus brief in support of respondent Stephens in this case.]
  • At Take Care, Leah Litman and Kyle Skinner note that “[t]he Solicitor General recently filed a petition for certiorari asking the Supreme Court to review a constitutional challenge to the so-called expedited removal system,” in Department of Homeland Security v. Thuraissigiam; they argue that “[t]he Court should deny the petition, for no other reason than that the Trump administration –within the last month–announced that it is dramatically expanding, and therefore radically altering, the scope of the expedited removal system.”

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Monday round-up

By on Aug 19, 2019 at 7:02 am

Briefly:

  • At The National Law Journal (subscription may be required), Marcia Coyle reports that “[t]he Trump administration’s Justice Department on Friday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that a federal civil rights law does not bar discrimination against transgender employees, staking a position against the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s push for broader workplace protections”; she notes that DOJ’s brief in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “was not signed by the EEOC’s general counsel, an indication the agency did not support the submission to the high court.” [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is counsel on an amicus brief in support of respondent Stephens in this case.]
  • Robert Barnes reports for The Washington Post that “Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and four other Democratic senators have ignited [controversy] with a filing that instructs the Supreme Court to either drop a New York gun case it has accepted for the coming term or face a public reckoning.”
  • At Crime & Consequences, Kent Scheidegger discusses the case of Stephen Michael West, whose request for a stay of execution and cert petition challenging Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were denied without comment last week.

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The Constitution as originally drafted did not include certain specific rights and restrictions on the power of the government. These were instead later added as amendments to the Constitution in the form of the Bill of Rights. Commentary leading up to the establishment of the Constitution found in the Federalist Papers discusses the importance of amendments and the process by which they might be established. In Federalist No. 85, Alexander Hamilton describes the amendment process and opines on the relative ease and difficulty of passing amendments once the Constitution has been ratified. The purpose of the Bill of Rights is explained in its own preamble: “Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”

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