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Wednesday Round-up

The Court heard oral argument yesterday in Hertz Corporation v. Friend, which considers the standard to be used to determine a corporation’s citizenship for the purposes of diversity jurisdiction.  At the National Law Journal, Tony Mauro reports that most of the justices seemed to favor some version of a standard that would focus on where a corporation has its headquarters, although some justices expressed concern that large companies might abuse the standard by strategically calculating where to locate their headquarters.

At the BLT, Marcia Coyle describes Justice Alito’s separate opinion concurring in the Court’s summary disposition of Bobby v. Van Hook, which reversed the lower court’s relief granted to a capital defendant because it relied on the guidelines of the American Bar Association to decide the definition of adequate counsel, as “curious.”  Justice Alito criticized the ABA as “’a private group with limited membership’ and added that its views do not necessarily reflect the views of the bar as a whole.”

Monday’s oral arguments in Bilski, Graham, and Sullivan remain in the limelight.  Coverage appears below the jump.

Three articles – one in the Washington Post and two Wall Street Journal stories here and here – note that the Court seemed reluctant to embrace the Bilski-Warsaw patent at issue in Bilski.

Bilski commentary also continues in the blogosphere.  Michael Risch, who served as counsel on an amicus brief in favor of neither party in Bilski, has five observations from the Bilski oral argument on PrawfsBlawg.  He also expresses his disappointment that the statutory definition of a process as a “new use of a machine” did not come up during the oral argument.  Risch reports that all of the justices “were looking for a way to maintain flexibility without having patents on things they think should not be patented,” and he predicts that the Bilski-Warsaw patent will be lost in the process. At ACSblog, Professor Joshua Sarnoff extensively recaps the advocates’ performance in the oral argument and predicts that the Court will issue a unanimous, narrow core holding that the Bilski-Warsaw method was ineligible for a patent, with a series of concurrences articulating different specific standards by which patent eligibility should be determined

Coverage of two juvenile-life-without-parole sentencing cases argued on Monday, Graham and Sullivan, also continues. David Savage offers a host of statistics about juveniles serving life sentences in his article about the oral argument in the Los Angeles Times.  He reports, as many have already done, that the liberal justices seemed to favor a per se rule against sentencing thirteen- or fourteen-year-olds to life without parole, although the Chief Justice urged a case-by-case review.  At Sentencing Law and Policy, Douglas Berman argues that Sullivan – involving a thirteen-year-old defendant – should be an “easy case” of “cruel and unusual punishment” for Eighth Amendment textualists.

The Conglomerate’s forum on Jones v. Harris Associates continues with a post by Erik Gerding on the exciting prospect of a “broader round of soul searching in the corporate law corner of the academy,” in the mold set by Seventh Circuit judge Richard Posner.

Tony Mauro, at the BLT, considers why the Court may be sitting on the petition of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez for so long – an unusual two months – without either granting or denying review.  The case raises the question of whether a school can deny official recognition to a student group that requires members and leaders to hold particular religious views.

After the Court denied convicted D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad a stay earlier this week, he was executed yesterday, as reported by the Wall Street Journal and the AP via NPR.  Again at Sentencing Law and Policy, Berman speculates that capital punishment will stand strong in United States public opinion with “poster children” like Muhammad and other multiple-murderers widely discussed in the media.

Cases already decided by the Court (sometimes long ago) have also received coverage recently.   Following on Adam Liptak’s article earlier this week in the New York Times on Justice Scalia’s hesitance to discuss Brown v. Board of Education, the WSJ Law Blog notes that the justice has at different times publicly suggested that he would have voted with both the majority and the dissent.  And the Wall Street has an editorial condemning what it describes as “the futility of using eminent domain as corporate welfare.”  The editorial notes that not only does the land at issue in the Court’s 2005 case Kelo v. New London remain vacant, but that Pfizer, Inc. – whose facility in New London was supposed to serve as the catalyst for the city’s development – has now abandoned its facility.

Adam Liptak at the New York Times reports on an “unusual” request from Justice Kennedy’s office to pre-approve quotes in a student newspaper article covering his October 28 visit to a Manhattan private school.

The Court’s website is “at a crossroads,” to quote Justice Thomas.  Information Week reports that the Supreme Court is seeking $799,000 from Congress for new software, hardware, and personnel to update its outdated and slow-to-report website – which, according to the story, “looks like it crawled out of 1997.”

The Legal Intelligencer has an article on the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s Supreme Court clinic’s role in Padilla v. Kentucky, which was argued at the Court last month.

ABC News previews the upcoming issue of Latina Magazine, which will feature an article on Justice Sotomayor – as well as her image on the front cover.  The Latina article reports that, before her confirmation hearing, the Justice “told a friend she was leery of losing her privacy and wanted to withdraw her name.”

Continuing its coverage of the justices’ local extracurricular activities,the Post reports that Justice Anthony Kennedy was spotted last week at Kellari Taverna.