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Wednesday round-up

Last month Michigan asked the Supreme Court to order Illinois to block the entry of Asian carp, a ravenous fish species, into Lake Michigan—a request that has since been joined by Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Ontario, and Wisconsin.  Yesterday, both the attorney general of Illinois and the U.S. Solicitor General filed responses asking the Court to dismiss the action.  Lyle of this blog explains the nature of the dispute and summarizes the federal government’s position, and the Associated Press (via BusinessWeek) offers further coverage.  The Associated Press (via the Chicago Tribune) also has a short piece on Illinois’s filing.  The L.A. Times highlights the responses—also filed at the Court yesterday—by three other defendants in the suit (the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and the Army Corps of Engineers).  Those filings question the science behind Michigan’s request.  In addition, the Chicago Tribune has an editorial on the case, arguing that “Michigan and the other states are in full panic attack.  Let’s hope the Supreme Court doesn’t buy into the hysteria.”

A split Ninth Circuit decision that invalidated a Washington law banning incarcerated felons from voting drew much attention yesterday and prompted predictions that it would be reheard en banc or by the Supreme Court.  The Associated Press (via the Washington Post) reports on the decision and reactions to it.  The Seattle Times confirms that the State of Washington will appeal the ruling.  If the case doesn’t go en banc at the Ninth Circuit, Kent Scheidegger of Crime & Consequences says it will be a “slam-dunk for Supreme Court review.”  Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy agrees, adding that “[a]mong interesting story lines to watch as this case goes forward is whether and how the Solicitor General of the United States might get involved.”

Bloomberg’s Greg Stohr has an in-depth preview of American Needle, Inc. v. NFL, an antitrust case that will be argued at the Court next Wednesday.  Stohr quotes law professor Michael McCann saying that American Needle “‘could become the most important sports law case in U.S. history.’”

At the Volokh Conspiracy, John Elwood ponders the Court’s much-delayed cert. decision in Noriega v. Pastrana, a request by former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega to block his transfer to France, where he will face criminal trial.  Noriega’s petition has been relisted “a whopping eight times.”  (The petition has been on SCOTUSblog’s Petitions to Watch list since the October 9, 2009 conference.)  Elwood surmises that “someone is writing a dissent from denial of certiorari” and guesses about who might be doing so.

Also in the news are two cases heard by retired Justices now sitting on the courts of appeals.  The Providence Journal covers Justice Souter’s first return to the First Circuit since his retirement.  He heard a case about abuse in Rhode Island’s foster care system.  The Associated Press (via the Chicago Tribune) reports that Justice O’Connor took part in a Sixth Circuit ruling in favor of a Michigan inmate acting as his own lawyer.


  • The Savannah Morning News has a story on Justice Thomas’s return home for the dedication of the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Clarence Thomas Center for Historic Preservation.
  • At the BLT, Marcia Coyle discusses the cert. petition in Textron Inc. v. United States, a “closely watched federal tax case involving the scope of the work-product doctrine.”  (Disclosure: The law firm that filed the petition will be my employer in Summer 2010.)
  • Responding to the pre-decision resolution of Pottawattamie County v. McGhee (covered by Lyle here), John Elwood of the Volokh Conspiracy writes that “[w]hile the settlement ends this case, this is not the last we’ve seen of this issue.”
  • Finally, the WSJ Law Blog comments on a report from the Los Angeles Daily Journal that Supreme Court clerks still command signing bonuses of up to $250,000 from law firms post-clerkship.