Breaking News

Monday round-up

Recently, Court watchers have observed that the critical moments of this Term are still to come.  Michael Doyle of the McClatchy-Tribune, for one, comments that the Court has saved its “starkest drama” for the second half of the Term.  As evidence, he notes that the Court has released only four opinions thus far, and has still not issued an opinion in Citizens United v. FEC.  In an interview on NPR, Nina Totenberg also examines the coming year, discussing the potential impact of Citizens United and the Obama administration’s approach to judicial appointments.  In USA Today, Joan Biskupic chronicles the case and discusses the issues it presents.

At the Huffington Post, Gabriel A. Feldman of the Tulane Sports Law Program analyzes the questions raised by a different case: American Needle Inc. v. NFL.  Feldman writes that the Court will examine, among other issues, whether the League should be classified as a single entity and whether the NFL’s exclusive license agreement with Reebok violates the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

Lawrence Hurley of the Daily Journal surveys the Obama Justice Department, which he suggests has been “disappointing some supporters with its hard line on terrorism detainees while breaking with the Bush administration on business issues.”  He recounts that the Administration disappointed some by refusing to release a group of Chinese Uighurs after they successfully filed habeas petitions in federal courts – the issue raised in this Term’s Kiyemba v. Obama.  However, in two business cases, Jones v. Harris Associates and Merck v. Reynolds, Solicitor General Elena Kagan filed amicus briefs and entered oral arguments on behalf of investors bringing suits against businesses, a position, he notes, that is markedly different from the Bush administration’s.

Also reporting on this past year is Chief Justice John Roberts, who issued a report on the Federal Judiciary.  Roberts notes that the total number of filings for the 2008 term, in comparison to the 2007 term, decreased by 6.1%.  At the same time, the Court’s docket swelled, as the Court heard argument in 87 cases and issued 74 signed opinions in the 2008 term, an increase from the 75 cases argued and 67 opinions issued in the 2007 term.

The American Constitution Society interviewed Paul Smith, counsel for the plaintiffs in the landmark Court case Lawrence v. Texas, on the state of equal rights advances for the LGBT community.

Both Justice Sotomayor and Justice Scalia drew individual attention this weekend.  In USA Today, Joan Biskupic reports that Justice Sotomayor has been the source of two “firsts” at the Court.  First, her majority opinion in Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter was the first opinion to apply the appellation “undocumented immigrant” to describe illegal workers.  Second, when she announced her trip to Puerto Rico, the news releases were printed in Spanish and English.

In the New York Times Magazine, Ben Zimmer scrutinizes Justice Scalia’s dislike of the word “choate.”  Zimmer recalls Justice Scalia’s ongoing struggle to avoid the word, even when it appears in previous Court opinions, and he notes that the Justice has, during oral arguments, informed advocates who have used the word that “there is no such adjective.”  Above The Law reports on Fordham Law Professor Joel Reidenberg, who, with his information privacy law class, compiled a 15-page dossier of information on Justice Scalia, including the value of his house and his wife’s personal email address.  Scalia responded with a scathing comment: “Prof. Reidenberg’s exercise is an example of perfectly legal, abominably poor judgment.  Since he was not teaching a course in judgment, I presume he felt no responsibility to display any.”