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Thursday Round-Up

Yesterday’s argument in Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection, a dispute between landowners and the state of Florida over restored shoreline property, has attracted significant attention. (Disclosure: my law school clinic represents some of the respondents in the case.) Nearly all major media outlets covered the argument, which was “studded with references to spring break, amusement parks and hot dog vendors,” according to The New York Times. Dahlia Lithwick of Slate, Lyle Denniston of this blog, Bill Mears of CNN, and Ben Barros of PropertyProf Blog offer their recaps and analyses of the argument.

 Justice Stevens, an owner of beachfront property in Ft. Lauderdale, was absent from the argument, most likely because he has recused himself from the case. Ilya Shapiro at the Cato @ Liberty blog predicts that the remaining eight Justices will tie four to four, leaving in place the Florida Supreme Court ruling in favor of the state. To David Savage of The Los Angeles Times, however, a tie vote seems “less likely after Wednesday’s argument.”  Lyle notes that if there is a tie, we may know “as early as next week.”

Additional coverage of the case is available from The Wall Street Journal (as well as the WSJ Law Blog), The Washington Post, NPR, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, and Constitutional Law Prof Blog.

Marcia Coyle at the BLT and Lyle highlight a pair of opinions provoked by the eleventh-hour appeal of Cecil Johnson, a Tennessee inmate who was executed early yesterday morning.  Justice Stevens, joined by Justice Breyer, dissented from the denial of Johnson’s petition and application for a stay of execution, raising the constitutional concern that holding an inmate on death row for many years may, in some instances, be cruel and unusual punishment.  Coyle describes Justice Thomas’s opinion in response as “spirited” and having “some bite.”  Sentencing Law and Policy also comments on the opinions.

The BLT also covers yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the impact of Ashcroft v. Iqbal and Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, two cases which raised the federal pleading standard for plaintiffs bringing civil suits. Former Solicitor General Gregory Garre testified, along with Stephen Burbank of the University of Pennsylvania and John Payton, the president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Constitutional Law Prof Blog offers additional commentary on the hearing.

Finally, Jess Bravin of the Wall Street Journal follows up on a Washington Post report that Justice Kennedy spoke at the wedding of Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the uninvited guests at President Obama’s first state dinner. Justice Kennedy does appear briefly in the couple’s wedding video, but he “declined to comment on his connection to the couple, according to a Supreme Court spokeswoman.”