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Monday round-up

The long conference takes place today, as the Justices – joined for the first time by Justice Elena Kagan – consider the many petitions for certiorari that have accumulated over the summer months.  In the USA Today, Joan Biskupic discusses the dynamics of the Justices’ private conferences, while Jess Bravin previews the upcoming Term for the Wall Street Journal.

As the new Term approaches, the Court’s recent decisions are still making their effects felt.  In the Miami Herald, David Ovalle describes Florida’s difficulties in sentencing young violent criminals in the aftermath of Graham v. Florida, which banned life sentences without parole for juveniles convicted of crimes less serious than murder.  Because Florida has abolished parole altogether, these juveniles must now be given a fixed sentence.  (Thanks to Howard Bashman and How Appealing for the link.)  And Michael Rothfeld of the Wall Street Journal reports on the federal response to the new limits on prosecutions for honest services fraud.

On Friday night, Justice Antonin Scalia stayed a Louisiana state court judgment that would have required “major tobacco companies to start paying into a $241.5 million fund to finance programs to help smokers stop using cigarettes.”  The stay order and accompanying opinion are here; Lyle Denniston of this blog covered the order in detail, and Greg Stohr of Bloomberg also has a report.

In addition, Greg Stohr of Bloomberg reports on an amicus brief recently filed by nineteen major corporations in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, a case involving claims of gender discrimination by 1.5 million former Wal-Mart employees.  Wal-Mart claims that the Ninth Circuit erred in allowing the suit to go forward as a class action; the amici are urging the Court to take the case, warning of the pressure that they feel to settle even meritless class action suits.

In the New York Times, Lincoln Caplan comments on Justice Stephen Breyer’s book, writing that the “[w]hile there’s no chapter in Justice Breyer’s book called ‘Legitimacy: Why I’m Worried,’” the message of the book “is that the court jeopardizes its legitimacy when it makes… radical rulings and that, in doing so, it threatens our democracy.”  Meanwhile, Jess Bravin of the Wall Street Journal looks toward the release of the authorized biography of the late Justice William Brennan.  Written by Seth Stern and Stephen Wermiel, the book will appear on October 4.  An excerpt is available here.