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Monday round-up

With the long conference still a week away, several Justices have filled their last days of summer with public appearances.  Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas both spoke at law schools on Friday, while Justice Stephen Breyer continued to discuss his new book and the Constitution.

Justice Scalia spoke at the UC Hastings College of the Law, arguing that because “nobody thought [the Equal Protection Clause] was directed against sex discrimination” when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, it should not be read to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex or sexual orientation today.  Justice Scalia also opined that although the pastor who had planned to burn the Quran was “an idiot,” his actions would be protected speech unless they were “going to immediately cause a riot the police can’t deal with.”  Bob Egelko reports on Justice Scalia’s appearance for the San Francisco Chronicle, as do Matt Krupnick of the Contra Costa Times, Kate Moser of the California Legal Pad blog, Julia Cheever of Bay City News (via the SF Appeal) and Ariane de Vogue of ABC News.

Justice Thomas spoke at the University of Tennessee College of Law, as Matt Lakin reports for the Knoxville News Sentinel. Blair Kuykendall of the UT Daily Beacon previewed the event.  The editorial board of the Augusta Chronicle addresses local opposition to the Justice’s appearance – scheduled for next spring – at a courthouse dedication, suggesting that “[i]t’s time to stop shunning the man because he’s a black conservative.”  (Thanks to Howard Bashman and How Appealing for these links.)

In the New York Times, Jeff Shesol pronounces Justice Breyer’s new book, Making Our Democracy Work, to be “like Breyer himself, deeply thoughtful and a little dry.”  In the Washington Post, Robert Barnes discusses the book with Justice Breyer, while Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker (subscription required) sets the Justice’s jurisprudence in the context of conservative resistance to current expansions of federal power – and goes boating with him too.  Jess Bravin of the Wall Street Journal provides excerpts of his interview with Justice Breyer last week.  Finally, at Balkinization, Mark Graber offers a satirically generic outline of books about the Supreme Court.


  • In the Washington Post, Robert Barnes takes an extended look at Louisville’s efforts “to maintain integrated classrooms despite the court’s command [in Parents Involved] that officials not consider race when assigning children to schools.”
  • At the Blog of Legal Times, Tony Mauro reports on an amicus brief filed by nine states and Puerto Rico in Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association.  The amici are urging the Court to strike down the California law that bans the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.
  • Amid political pressure from Sen. Arlen Specter and others to open the Supreme Court to television broadcast, the U.S. Judicial Conference (which makes policy for federal district and appellate courts) recently approved a pilot project to allow video recordings of civil trials, Joan Biskupic reports for ABC News.
  • Greg Bluestein of the Associated Press (via the Boston Globe) reports on Weis v. Georgia, a case that the Justices will consider on their long conference.  Jamie Ryan Weis, who is accused of murder and facing the death penalty, claims that he was jailed without a lawyer for two years.
  • At Jost on Justice, Kenneth Jost criticizes Chief Justice John Roberts and the current Court as being insufficiently respectful of precedent.
  • Russell Wheeler of the Brookings Institution takes a look at the upcoming Term.