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Tuesday Round-up

NPR and the Washington Post both have extensive coverage of yesterday’s arguments in Graham and Sullivan cases.  The WSJ Law Blog predicts that the Court will eventually decide on a compromise that would avoid establishing a categorical rule and would instead allow judges sentencing juveniles to consider the age of a defendant and the nature of his crime; the Chief Justice proposed such a system in what the author characterizes as an effort to appeal to Justice Kennedy’s swing vote. Dahlia Lithwick at Slate summarizes the arguments made in both cases (with a Sesame Street touch) and concludes only that nothing has yet been concluded.

At NPR, Nina Totenberg also covers Graham and Sullivan.  Her story includes a quote from a Temple University psychology professor who opposes life without parole for juveniles.  He asserts that although “there are some kids who are rotten and dangerous,” there “is no science…that is able to identify which juveniles can be rehabilitated and which can’t.”

Opinion pages also continued to prominently feature Graham and Sullivan.  The New York Times editorial board argued against sentencing juveniles to life sentences, noting that the U.S.’s status as the only country allowing such sentences is an important bellwether.  The editorial also notes that the “racially freighted” practice disproportionately assigns juvenile life-without-parole penalties to black and Latino children.  A Washington Post editorial also argued against such sentences, opining that “[j]uveniles who commit serious offenses should face serious penalties,” but that “that sentence should carry with it the opportunity for a second chance.”

As reported earlier, the Court declined to block the execution of John Allen Muhammed, who was convicted of the Washington-area sniper attacks in 2002.  The BLT, the NYT, NPR, and the Washington Post all have coverage, while the Jurist has extensive coverage of Justice Stevens’ statement respecting the denial of certiorari.

News media and the blogosphere also cover the Court’s summary reversal in Bobby v. van Hook. The Sentencing Law Blog highlights Justice Alito’s separate opinion in which he rejected the idea that the ABA’s guidelines on death penalty litigation should carry “special relevance” in setting appropriate standards.  In his view, the courts, rather than the ABA, should “determine the nature of the work that a defense attorney must do in a capital case.”  The Cincinnati Enquirer (via How Appealing) notes that the case is not yet resolved, though, as the appeals court will now consider other non-sentence aspects of the case now that the death penalty issue has been decided.

At the Am Law Daily, Joe Mullin recaps yesterday’s oral arguments in Bilski v. Kappos.  He reports that each member of the Court appeared very skeptical of the investment method that Bernard Bilski is attempting to have protected; in his view, the Court “is poised to establish a new, and most likely stricter, test of what is patent eligible.”  The NYT also mentions Justice Breyer’s “great, wonderful, really original method of teaching antitrust law,” which he also thought might be patentable.  However, the BLT does note that some justices, led by Justice Ginsburg, seemed to want to allow some leeway in any new regulations, expressing reservations about “adopting a rigid rule that would fail to anticipate unknown kinds of innovations in the future.”

Finally, Marcia Coyle of the NLJ previews today’s oral arguments in Hertz Corp. v. Friend, in which the Court will consider how a corporation’s “principal place of business” should be determined.  She notes that the case will effectively determine whether future class-action lawsuits will be heard in “what corporations perceive to be the friendlier forum of the federal courts or” instead in “the plaintiff-sympathetic state courts.”