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Friday round-up

[Note: Please see yesterday’s special-edition round-up for more coverage of yesterday’s opinions.]

Coverage of the Court’s opinion-packed Thursday continues this morning. The Washington Post’s Robert Barnes and David Savage of the Los Angeles Times both have coverage of the Court’s decision in Stop the Beach Renourishment, Inc. v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The Court’s discussion in that case of whether a judicial decision can constitute a “taking” within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment is attracting particular attention. The Center for Progressive Reform’s John Echeverria opines that the Court “came one vote short of issuing a decision that would have revolutionized the law of property rights,” while Constitutional Law Prof’s Blog’s Ruthann Robson analyzes the division among the Justices on the judicial takings question.  Meanwhile, NPR’s Nina Totenberg discusses the potential “nationwide effect” of the Court’s holding, in a story that also describes yesterday’s decisions in City of Ontario v. Quon and New Process Steel v. National Labor Relations Board – both of which may also have far-reaching implications. The Washington Post’s Peter Whoriskey and Sonja Ryst note that National Labor Relations Board may prompt the reopening of “[h]undreds of recent federal rulings,” while David G. Savage (in the Chicago Tribune) notes that Quon “applies directly to the more than 20 million employees of state and local governments.” Finally, at Jurist, Sarah Miley recaps the Court’s decision in Schwab v. Reilly, and Hillary Stemple covers Dillon v. United States.

The Court also yesterday denied Ronnie Lee Gardner’s stay of execution request. The State of Utah executed Gardner—via firing squad—early this morning, making him the first man to die before a firing squad in Utah since 1996, and one of only a handful to be executed by firing squad nationwide since 1976.  Kirk Johnson of the New York Times, Ray Sanchez of ABC News, Jennifer Dobner of the Christian Science Monitor, and the AP (via USA Today) all have coverage.

With Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings set to begin only ten days from now, the AP’s Julie Hirschfeld Davis reports that the White House is “quietly choreographing every aspect” of Kagan’s confirmation, citing as an example the carefully timed release of documents from Kagan’s time as an aide to President Clinton. That choreography may be effective: The Ninth Justice’s James A. Barnes reports that according to the National Journal Political Insiders Poll, seventy-six percent of the Republicans polled think it would not be “politically smart for Republicans to try to block” Kagan’s nomination. He adds that in a similar poll, only sixty-four percent of the Republicans polled expressed the same opinion with regard to now-Justice Sotomayor.

Later today, Kagan’s emails from her time in the Clinton administration will be released, Hirschfeld Davis reports in a separate AP piece. Newsweek’s Alan Mascarenhas discusses some of the documents that have already been released, characterizing them as revealing “a canny operative with the instincts of a politician as much as a jurist.” Writing for the Opinionator Blog of the New York Times, Linda Greenhouse emphasizes what she regards as Kagan’s foresight as a law clerk, describing Kagan’s role in a case whose facts Kagan considered to be “horrific.”


  • The Wall Street Journal Law Blog’s Clifford M. Marks reports that Justice Stevens may favor “allowing retired [J]ustices to return to the high court for cases when a sitting [J]ustice has been recused in order to avoid a tie vote.” The article comes one day after the Court’s Stop the Beach opinion, in which Justice Stevens’ recusal resulted in a four-to-four split on whether a judicial decision can constitute a “taking.”
  • Sentencing Law and Policy’s Douglas A. Berman highlights a set of facts that nearly provided a “fascinating” follow-up to Graham v. Florida.