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Tuesday Round-up

In his Sidebar column in the New York Times, Adam Liptak discusses the implications of a possible Court decision that would – as the Chief Justice suggested at oral argument – eschew a bright-line rule prohibiting life sentences without parole for juveniles in favor of a case-by-case method that accounts for the defendant’s age and the seriousness of his crime.  Liptak notes that the Court’s 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia, indicating that an IQ of “approximately 70” would qualify a defendant as “mentally retarded,” has spawned extensive litigation, and he suggests that a similar result could occur in juvenile cases if the Court imposes a subjective standard.

C-SPAN features video of a panel discussion of upcoming Supreme Court cases, featuring USA Today Supreme Court Correspondent Joan Biskupic and Supreme Court litigators Maureen Mahoney and David Frederick.

Eva Rodriguez at the Washington Post discusses the furor over Justice Kennedy’s decision to bar the press from his recent appearance at a Manhattan high school.  Rodriguez argues that although there are certainly events from which a justice could reasonably bar the professional press, Supreme Court justices are public figures who should generally allow media coverage – both professional and student-run – of their appearances.

Also in the Washington Post, Robert Barnes previews Stop the Beach Renourishment v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in which the Court will hear oral arguments next week.  The case arises out of a challenge by a group of Florida property owners to the state’s beach restoration project, but the Court may also weigh in on the question of judicial takings – that is, whether a court decision can “take” property in violation of the Constitution.

Adam Liptak also reports on the bipartisan resistance to the so-called trend of “overcriminalization” in modern criminal law.  Both liberal and conservative groups, he writes, are lining up in Supreme Court cases to protest “the astounding number and vagueness of federal criminal laws”; for example, a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce amicus brief referred to “honest services” law as “unintelligible” and “used to target a staggeringly broad swath of behavior.”

The University of Minnesota has announced that Justice Thomas and SCOTUSblog’s own academic round-up author David Stras will co-teach a seminar at the law school this spring entitled “Selected Fundamental Principles of Constitutional Law.”  The course will include discussions of judicial review, separation of powers, the Commerce Clause, and federalism, among others.

Finally, Above the Law reports on comments last week by Gerard Lynch during a speech in New York City.  Discussing Supreme Court appointments, Judge Lynch argued that presidents should nominate experienced litigators to the Court, and he asserted that the ideologies of younger would-be judges are too unpredictable to reliably appoint them as a “liberal” or “conservative” judge.