Yesterday the Court heard oral argument in Snyder v. Phelps and Connick v. Thompson. Transcripts of the arguments are available here. Last night, James posted a Bonus round-up covering the substantial press response to Snyder. The highly anticipated First Amendment case has only continued to generate commentary.

At the Huffington Post, Geoffrey Stone predicts that "the Supreme Court will hold that the jury verdict in this case violated the First Amendment."  In an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, Eugene Volokh argues that the Court would be wrong to hold otherwise: "judges and juries shouldn’t be free to decide, case by case, that some particular message at a demonstration or on a Web site is so outrageous that it loses constitutional protection."  Jamie Raskin at ACSblog agrees that "we cannot silence the utterly annoying Rev. Phelps except by promoting the values that he despises."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the editorial boards of several major newspapers urge the Court to hold that the contested speech is protected by the First Amendment. The editorial board of the New York Times contends that "it is in the interest of the nation that strong language about large issues be protected, even when it is hard to do so." The editorial board of the Baltimore Sun agrees, maintaining that "[t]he First Amendment"™s guarantee of freedom of speech would be meaningless if it didn"™t protect the most unpopular and offensive forms of expression." As do the editorial boards of the Washington Post, which contends that "everyone"™s rights will be eroded" if "Westboro"™s vitriol is deemed unworthy of First Amendment protection," and the Los Angeles Times, which emphasizes that the case will "have reverberations in settings far removed from military funerals."

Although Snyder stole the media spotlight, Connick, which asks whether a district attorney"™s office can be held liable for a prosecutor"™s Brady violation on a failure-to-train theory, also garnered significant attention. USA Today, the Washington Times, the Boston Herald,  Courthouse News Service, the National Law Journal,  Main Justice, and the Associated Press (via the Washington Post) have coverage of the oral argument.


  • In his column for Findlaw, Michael Dorf explores the "hidden complications" of Senator Leahy"™s proposed bill that would "permit a majority of the Court to designate a retired Justice to substitute for a recused Justice in any particular case." Dorf favors the proposal and adds a few additional thoughts in at his eponymous blog.
  • At Bloomberg, Greg Stohr discusses his interview with Justice Breyer, which focused on Justice Breyer"™s new book. Justice Breyer "rejected the notion that the U.S. Supreme Court has a pro-business slant."
  • At the Christian Science Monitor, Chuck Leddy reviews the new biography of Justice Brennan, Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion, concluding that "Stern and Wermiel illuminate his legacy remarkably well." (Be sure to join SCOTUSblog today at 3 p.m. for a live chat with the biography"™s authors.)
  • Mark Albertson of the San Francisco Examiner previews two technology cases the Court will hear this term: Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, the violent video games case, and AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, a case about cellphone contracts.
  • Mike Cronin of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Justice Scalia will be the keynote speaker at the 100th anniversary of Duquesne University School of Law next year.

Posted in Round-up