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Friday round-up

Following up on this week’s opinions, two of which concerned the Miranda rights of suspects in police custody, Tony Mauro notes at that in both Maryland v. Shatzer and Florida v. Powell the Court established more permissive rules for the admission of confessions made under circumstances viewed by lower courts as Miranda violations.  Mauro quotes Stanford Law School’s Jeff Fisher, who describes the rulings as reflecting the Court’s “extreme hostility toward constitutional rules that require the exclusion of evidence…at criminal trials.” On Monday the Court will hear arguments in a third Miranda case, Berghuis v. Thompkins; at the Huffington Post, Charles Weisselberg previews Berghuis, characterizing the Obama Administration’s position in the case as more aggressive than those taken by previous Democratic Administrations.

Continuing the coverage of Tuesday’s oral argument in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, ACSblog has an opinion piece by the ACLU’s Ahilan Arulanantham, who addresses an issue that has not garnered as much attention in the case – the prospect that individuals could be convicted for providing humanitarian assistance, such as tsunami relief aid, in an area in which a designated terrorist organization operates.  Pointing to his own experience working in humanitarian relief, Arulanantham urges the Court to prioritize humanitarian assistance in its decision in the case.

The BLT has coverage of Wednesday’s panel discussion of Citizens United at the National Press Club.  The five panelists, the report notes, agreed that the decision was “unlikely to drastically change the campaign finance landscape in the 2010 election” but had different views on the decision’s long-term effect.  And Linda Greenhouse reports at the Opinionator Blog of the New York Times on recent polls indicating that the Citizens decision is nearly equally unpopular among Democrats and Republicans alike; she speculates that the decision may serve as a populist rallying cry similar to the Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo v. New London.

In USA Today, Joan Biskupic has a preview of McDonald v. Chicago, which is scheduled for oral argument next week.  Biskupic notes that McDonald will present a test for Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who took part in a 2009 Second Circuit ruling holding that the Second Amendment did not apply to the states.  Lyle Denniston discussed the case on the blog last night.

The March issue of the ABA Journal, now available online, includes two articles related to the Court.  In the first, Herman Obermayer profiles his late friend William H. Rehnquist, highlighting the former Chief Justice’s wit and loyalty and his deep-seated values.  A second piece, by Richard Brust, includes an interview with Court-watcher Ross Davies and artist John A. Sargent III, who have teamed up to issue a series of “Supreme Court Sluggers” trading cards featuring Supreme Court Justices and their judicial “stats.”


  • At the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Levi Pulkkinen reports on the petitioners’ brief filed yesterday in Doe v. Reed, in which the Court will consider whether the names of those who sign a political petition can be made public.
  • Civil Procedure & Federal Courts Blog covers the Court’s grant of certiorari earlier this week in Harrington v. Richter, a habeas case which, like several other cases argued this term, will address questions of effective assistance of counsel.  In particular, the blog notes that the Court ordered the parties to address the question of the deference owed by federal habeas courts to state court decisions on constitutional issues.
  • BBC News covers a recent appeal to the Supreme Court made by British citizen Linda Carty, who is currently on death row in Texas.  Carty, whose appeal asserts that she received inadequate assistance of counsel during her trial, is now being represented by the advocacy group Reprieve.
  • At the BLT, Tony Mauro highlights an Oyez Project feature which allows users to identify milestones in Justice Stevens’s career by comparing him to his long-serving predecessors on the Court.  (The feature also reveals that the Court’s newest member, Justice Sotomayor, has already out-lasted another Justice, Thomas Johnson, who served only five months and ten days.)
  • At PrawfsBlawg, Aaron Bruhl discusses the Court’s use of its GVR (“grant-vacate-remand”) power, citing criticisms leveled recently by Justice Scalia and others that the Court has been over-using this authority.  Bruhl disputes a number of Justice Scalia’s criticisms, noting that the Court does display some flexibility with regard to its use of the GVR and that the history of the Court’s GVR authority does not necessarily suggest a rise in the use of this strategy in recent years.
  • Also covering Supreme Court GVR rulings, Capital Defense Weekly reports on this week’s summary reversal in Thaler v. Haynes.