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Thursday Round-Up

Princeton University’s Program in Law and Public Affairs is hosting a panel discussion next Wednesday titled “Full Court Press: The Supreme Court, the Media and Public Understanding.”  The program will focus on issues of public understanding of the Court raised by Justice Sotomayor’s confirmation process over the summer.  The panel will feature Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick of Slate, Adam Liptak of The New York Times, and Jeffrey Toobin of CNN.

Coverage of yesterday’s arguments in Pottawattamie County v. McGhee and Wood v. Allen appears after the jump.

Adam Liptak of The New York Times covers the arguments in both cases, each “involving claims that the criminal justice system had gone badly awry.”

The argument in Pottawattamie County v. McGhee, a case about prosecutors’ immunity for pretrial conduct, dominates much of the coverage.  TIME reports on the case’s back-story, which “sound[s] like a television movie, a tale of wrongful imprisonment and the slow, inexorable wheels of justice,” according to Bob Barnes of The Washington Post.  Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick writes that the case could become another “instance[] of shocking constitutional wrongs that cannot be corrected by constitutional courts.”  NPR,, and The Christian Science Monitor offer additional coverage of the argument, and The Washington Post’s editorial page weighs in to support the former inmates.

Several reports paid special attention to the attorneys arguing the case.  Stephen Sanders, a fourth-year law firm associate, made his Supreme Court debut representing Pottawattamie County, noted the ABA Journal and Above the Law.  The WSJ Law Blog commented on the “rematch of Paul Clement and Neal Katyal,” who last argued against one another in 2006 in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.  (Also at that link, Jess Bravin gives a hesitant prediction of a 5-4 victory for the former inmates.)

Kent Scheidegger of the Crime and Consequences blog offers a close reading of the transcript in yesterday’s second case, Wood v. Allen, a capital habeas case about how federal courts should review the facts determined in state criminal proceedings under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA).  For Supreme Court practitioners, Scheidegger highlights an exchange with Justice Kennedy: when citing page numbers in the opinion below during argument, attorneys should cite to standard reporters, such as F.3d, rather than the cert. petition appendix.  That appears to be what Justice Kennedy prefers, anyway.

In non-argument news, Benjamin Weiser of The New York Times reports on the Second Circuit’s en banc ruling in Arar v. Ashcroft on Monday.  The case involves the government’s post-9/11 rendition practices and has been “widely watched.”  David Cole, who represents Maher Arar, says that a petition to the Supreme Court is “likely.”

Finally, at National Review Online, Ed Whelan ruminates on the next Supreme Court nomination, noting that “the Left will be pushing for the next nominee to be an ardent advocate of the progressive vision of constitutional decisionmaking.”  He predicts that Tuesday’s election results “make it much less likely that the Left will get its wish” if there is a vacancy this summer, as speculated.