Breaking News

Thursday round-up

The Associated Press (via the Boston Globe) reports that a group of Chicago residents and a gun sellers group have already filed a lawsuit challenging a recently enacted Chicago gun control ordinance that prohibits handgun possession outside homes and bans gun shops in the city.  Chicago officials passed the ordinance last week in response to the Court’s decision in McDonald v. Chicago.  Ashby Jones at the WSJ Law Blog also has coverage of the lawsuit.

Commentators continue to reflect on the just-completed Term.  C-SPAN interviews Los Angeles Times correspondent David Savage, who says, among other things, that he was most caught off guard by the Court’s decision in Graham v. Florida, holding that sentencing any juvenile to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is cruel and unusual punishment — especially because Chief Justice Roberts crossed ideological lines to concur in the judgment.  And in an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered, SCOTUSblog’s Tom Goldstein observes that the jumble of alignments among the Justices in decisions this Term makes the Court hard to cast as “just a hard right or a hard left place.”  Yesterday the Heritage Foundation held its annual Term Review panel, with panelists including two former Solicitors General Walter Dellinger and Gregory Garre and Professor Richard Epstein (see the full video on C-SPAN).

In light of a Washington Post report indicating that political expenditures by labor unions have substantially exceeded similar expenditures by corporations this election season, Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy points out that this finding is consistent with earlier data from California, which had not limited corporate spending even before the Court’s decision in Citizens United.  In another post, Volokh challenges the manner in which the Post framed the study results – reporting that labor expenditures “have dominated spending on independent campaign ads so far this election season, despite a recent Supreme Court decision that freed spending by corporations”; he notes that the ruling applied equally to corporations and unions.

The Senate vote count for the Kagan confirmation has begun.  David Ingram at the National Law Journal (registration required) identifies sixteen senators whose votes he thinks are unclear (with the caveat that their votes will determine the margin of her confirmation, not the result).  Among them is Robert Byrd’s successor, if one is appointed before the Senate floor vote.  Senator John McCain announced yesterday, in an op-ed in USA Today, that he would not support Kagan because of her role in the military-recruiting controversy at Harvard.  CBS News and the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog have brief reports on McCain’s announcement.   Tampa Bay Online raises the possibility that Florida Governor Charlie Crist could lose National Rifle Association backing for his November Senate race over his public support for Kagan, whom the NRA opposes.

In light of the Court’s decision in Black v. United States, casting doubt on the validity of his conviction, former press magnate Conrad Black is now seeking bail while his case returns to the lower courts.  The Associated Press (via USA Today) has the story.  Andrew Harris at Bloomberg also reports on Black’s efforts to overturn his conviction.

At the Volokh Conspiracy, David Post discusses a SCOTUSblog post by David Cohen explaining a “voting paradox” in the alignment of Justices in McDonald, in which five Justices favored incorporation of the Second Amendment against the states, but through two different methods.   At the Washington Examiner, Michael Barone opines that Justice Thomas, the lone Justice to support incorporation under the Privileges or Immunities Clause, has “the better logical argument” (thanks go to Josh Blackman for the link).


  • The Associated Press (via the L.A. Times) summarizes arguments from the respondent’s brief filed yesterday in the funeral picketing case Snyder v. Phelps, which will be argued next Term.
  • reproduces a June 28 internal letter by a Patent and Trade Office official directing patent examiners to continue using the so-called machine-or-transformation test as guidance for determining the patent-eligibility of a process.  The same day, the Supreme Court rejected that test as the sole test for determining patentability in Bilski v. Kappos.
  • Marcia Coyle at the National Law Journal (registration required) looks at a new ACLU petition brought by two Denver residents who claim their First Amendment rights were violated when they were thrown out of a town hall meeting held by then-president George W. Bush because of a bumper sticker on their car.