Breaking News

Thursday round-up

American Needle v. NFL, in which the Court will consider whether the National Football League and its teams are one entity for purposes of federal antitrust law, is getting a lot of attention prior to its oral argument next Wednesday. The January edition of the ABA Journal asserts that a ruling in favor of the league would give it – as well as Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League – “almost total control over nearly every aspect of operations on and off the field, including repeated disputes over franchise location, players union relations, individual player contracts and televised delivery of games.”  On the other hand, Tom Van Riper at Forbes argues that such a ruling is unlikely to cause major ripples in sports, especially for the players’ unions; Van Riper notes that the Major League Baseball Association has enjoyed an antitrust exemption for years without significant loss to its players. The New York Times also previews the case.

The L.A. Times opines that the Court ought not to allow prosecutors to introduce DNA lab reports against defendants in trials without giving them the right to cross-examine the report authors. In Briscoe v. Virginia, another case to be argued Monday, the Court will revisit the issue decided in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts last Term.

Following an editorial yesterday decrying the recent suit filed against the State of Illinois by the State of Michigan, the Chicago Tribune has a news story on recent fillings questioning the science behind Michigan’s claim that carp emerging through locks from Illinois waters could endanger the local fish.  The filings, in defense of Illinois, come from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  UPI reports that the Obama Administration has come out in favor of Illinois as well, while the Christian Science Monitor has Michigan’s side of the story.

PrawfsBlawg laments that the settlement of Pottawattamie County v. McGhee deprives the Court of the opportunity to decide when prosecutors – and potentially by implication, police – violate due process rights.

Roger Parloff, a senior editor of Fortune Magazine, has this lengthy overview in the magazine’s latest edition of the “honest-services fraud” statute challenged in three cases this Term, Black, Weyhrauch, and Skilling.  The magazine also has a quiz online in which readers can guess the ruling in seven recent appellate decisions considering convictions for honest-services fraud.

The Seattle Times reports that, following a 2-1 ruling by the Ninth Circuit that Washington State’s ban on felons voting in prison violates civil liberties, the State yesterday announced its plans to appeal the case to the Court.  Seattle P.I. also covers the decision, adding more about evidence the plaintiffs used for their claim that Washington’s criminal justice system was “infected” by racial discrimination.  Newsweek’s Gaggle blog argues in favor of the ruling as a rebuke of racial discrimination rather than felon disenfranchisement.  The case “has ‘Certiorari Granted’ written all over it,” according to the WSJ Law Blog; but Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog thinks the court of appeals may agree to hear the case en banc instead.

As Lyle of this blog reported yesterday, the D.C. Circuit will hear oral arguments this morning in Al-Maqaleh v. Gates, a case testing whether habeas corpus rights granted to Guantanamo Bay detainees in last Term’s Supreme Court case Boumediene v. Bush will be extended to detainees at the U.S.’s Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.  The Constitutional Law Prof Blog notes that the case may be mooted when the Defense Department transfers the base’s detention responsibilities to the Afghan government, as it has told the court it will do.  Josh Gerstein at Politico remarks that the argument will be a “curious” one for the Obama Administration’s advocate, Principal Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal, who successfully advocated detainee rights in the landmark 2006 Supreme Court case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld; Gerstein asserts that the choice of someone from the Solicitor General’s office is also a sign that the government views the case as uncommonly important.

ACSblog offers a primer on Thompson v. North American Stainless, in which an employee alleges that he was the victim of third-party retaliation when he was fired because his fiancée had lodged gender-discrimination complaints; last month the Court asked the Solicitor General to file a brief expressing the U.S.’s views as to whether cert. should be granted.

In The Hill, Alexander Bolton writes that Republicans see federal courts as the “last line of defense” against Democratic bills like the healthcare bill and the McCain-Feingold campaign finance act at issue in the long-awaited decision in Citizens United.

“Will the Supreme Court overturn the current campaign finance regime?” is the seventh question on Ron Elving’s list of the top ten political questions for 2010 on NPR.