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Thursday round-up

Yesterday the Court heard oral argument in Skinner v. Switzer and Kasten v. Saint-Gobain. Transcripts of the arguments are available here.

In Skinner, the Court is considering whether a convicted prisoner seeking access to DNA evidence can assert that claim in a civil rights action. CNN’s Bill Mears notes that the oral arguments “stayed away from the specifics of the crime and subsequent trial,” and while Robert Barnes of the Washington Post similarly observes that “drama was missing” from the “technical” arguments. The New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Courthouse News Service, JURIST, and the Associated Press  also have coverage of the arguments.  SCOTUSblog’s own Mary Fischer has a three-part series providing background on the case (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). In Kasten, the Court is considering whether an oral complaint (as opposed to a written one) is protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Courthouse News Service, the Associated Press, and the National Law Journal all cover the oral argument, which focused on the meaning of the statute’s use of the word “file.”

Snyder v. Phelps, last week’s First Amendment case, continues to generate commentary. At Jost on Justice, Kenneth Jost argues that the Court should not carve out an exception to First Amendment protection for military funerals, emphasizing that “the ruling that punishes the Phelpses today may punish more worthy speakers tomorrow.” At the Witherspoon Institute’s Public Discourse blog, Hadley Arkes argues that the Justices “began to back into the reasoning” of “the classic case of Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire” during oral argument.


  • U.S. News reports that the Court’s “approval rating is at one of its lowest points over the last decade.”
  • Justice Breyer, the Circuit Justice for the First Circuit, has refused to issue a stay in a Maine campaign finance case, as Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog and Rick Hasen of Election Law Blog report.
  • Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick reviews Justice Breyer’s book, Making Our Democracy Work. She calls it a “great read” and “an invitation to a much more civilized and nuanced conversation about the relationship between Americans, their government, and their freedom.”
  • At Salon, Glenn Greenwald argues that Justice Kagan’s votes in the Court’s refusal to stay an execution earlier this Term and its denial of certiorari in Weise v. Casper  on Tuesday (which Adam covered in yesterday’s round-up) “shed some minimal light on how she is approaching her role”; Kagan did not join Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor in voting to stay the execution of Teresa Lewis in Virginia, nor did she join those Justices in their dissent from the denial of certiorari in Weise.

Recommended Citation: Amanda Rice, Thursday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Oct. 14, 2010, 10:25 AM),