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Today’s orders and opinions

The Court issued four opinions today, including two in the long-awaited cases about juvenile imprisonment without parole, Graham and Sullivan v. Florida.  The rulings are:

In United States v. Comstock (08-1224), in an opinion by Justice Breyer, the Court reverses and remands the lower court’s decision.  The vote is 7-2, with Justice Thomas dissenting, joined by Justice Scalia.  Justice Kennedy concurs in the judgment only, joined by Justice Alito.

  • Holding: The Court upholds the law passed by Congress to order the civil commitment of a mentally ill federal prisoner who is a sex offender with the commitment to continue beyond the date the inmate otherwise would be released.

In Abbott v. Abbott (08-645), the Court reverses and remands the lower court’s decision.  Justice Kennedy writes for a majority of six Justices.  Justice Stevens dissents, joined by Justices Thomas and Breyer.

  • Holding: A parent has a right of custody under the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction by reason of the parent’s ne exeat right.  That right is the authority to consent before the other parent can remove a child from the country where the child is living.

In Graham v. Florida (08-7412), the Court reverses and remands, in an opinion again by Justice Kennedy.  The vote is 6-3, with Justice Thomas dissenting, joined by Justice Scalia and in part by Justice Alito.  Justice Alito files a separate dissenting opinion for himself.   Justice Stevens, joined by Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor, concurs, even though all three join the majority opinion, and the Chief Justice concurs in the result alone.

  • Holding:  It is unconstitutional to sentence a juvenile offender to life in prison without parole when the crime does not involve murder, given the Eighth Amendment’s ban on “cruel and unusual” punishment.

The Court dismisses Sullivan v. Florida (08-7621) as improvidently granted, in this per curiam opinion.

The Court also granted cert. in a new case, Wall v. Kholi (09-868), and asked for the views of the Solicitor General in Louisiana Safety Association v. Certain Underwriters (09-945).  The full order list is here.

The full texts of the opinions, and the briefs in Wall v. Kholi and Louisiana Safety Association v. Certain Underwriters, follow the jump.

Briefs in the cases granted and CVSG’d:

Title: Wall v. Kholi
Docket: 09-868
Issue: Whether a state court sentence-reduction motion consisting of a plea for leniency constitutes an “application for State post-conviction or other collateral review,” 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2), thus tolling the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act’s one-year limitations period for a state prisoner to file a federal habeas corpus petition.

Title: Louisiana Safety Association of Timbermen – Self Insurers Fund v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London
Docket: 09-945
Issue: Whether Chapter 2 of the Federal Arbitration Act is an “Act of Congress” subject to the anti-preemption provision of the McCarran-Ferguson Act.

Full texts of the opinions:

United States v. Comstock, No. 08-1224

Abbott v. Abbott, No. 08-645

Graham v. Florida, No. 08-7412