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Tuesday round-up

Today, the Court will hear oral argument in Schwarzenegger v. Plata, presenting the question whether a federal court’s order requiring California to release prisoners to reduce prison overcrowding was consistent with the 1996 Prison Litigation Reform Act. Nina Totenberg of NPR provides a detailed account of prison overcrowding in California, while the Washington Post, Fresno Bee, Contra Costa Times, Agence-France Presse, Forbes, Politics Daily, and ABC (video) all offer more coverage. Sherrilyn Ifill of The Root argues the case goes beyond the “the age-old state sovereignty versus federal courts story”; rather, she contends, “the condition of our prison system is a reflection of irresponsible state and federal policies that have often been expedient, but fiscally and morally unsound.” The editorial board of the the Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise reasons that “even a victory” for the state “will not excuse California legislators from fixing a state corrections system that is too crowded and too flawed.” The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, however, maintains that expecting politicians to fix the system is “unrealistic,” and it urges the Court to uphold the lower court’s order.

Yesterday’s oral arguments in Wall v. Kholi and Walker v. Martin also drew coverage. JURIST briefly summarizes both federal habeas cases. The Providence Journal focuses on Kholi, while Crime and Consequences discusses Martin.

Perhaps earning the most attention, however, was yesterday’s order list.  Virtually every news outlet – including The National Law Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Reuters, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Courthouse News Service, New York Times, and this blog, among others – covered the Court’s grant of certiorari in two cases involving Arizona’s campaign finance laws:  Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom PAC v. Bennett and McComish v. Bennett. At Cato@Liberty, Ilya Shapiro applauds the move, arguing that Arizona’s public financing system permits a privately funded candidate to be “penalized for working too hard and speaking too much.” But supporters of public funding, reports the Christian Science Monitor, say that the law has “helped move the state beyond egregious corruption and recurrent scandal.” Jess Bravin of the Wall Street Journal and Joan Biskupic of USA Today have additional coverage of the issues at stake in the case.

The Court also granted review in Microsoft v. I4i Limited Partnership, in which it will consider the proper standard for determining validity of a patent.  The Wall Street Journal and Reuters (via the New York Times) have coverage, while Tony Mauro at the National Law Journal examines other issues in the case. Greg Stohr at Bloomberg reports on a third case, CSX Transportation v. McBride, in which cert. was also granted yesterday.

Headlines focused on denials of petitions for certiorari as well. As Bloomberg, Law & Disorder, and the Wall Street Journal all report, the Court denied cert. in Tiffany (NJ) Inc. v eBay, a trademark infringement suit.  Over a dissent from Justice Alito, the Court also denied cert. in Harper v. Maverick Recording Company, a case involving the issue of liability for “innocent infringement.”  The Christian Science Monitor has coverage, as does the ABA Law Journal, CNN, and Wired have more on Harper. And finally, the Court also denied cert. in Friends of the Everglades v. South Florida Water Management District, a case involving whether the Clean Water Act requires a permit in order to transfer polluted water between bodies of water.  Greenwire (via the New York Times) and Courthouse News Service have coverage of that case.


  • Sentencing Law and Policy has a post on yesterday’s statement respecting the denial of certiorari in Gamache v. California, in which Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan joined Justice Sotomayor in emphasizing that “in future cases the California courts should take care to ensure that their burden allocation [to prove harmlessness] conforms to the” Court’s precedent.  Doug Berman observes that the statement provides “still more evidence of the extra special attention given to capital cases by at least some Justices.”
  • And at the Volokh Conspiracy, John Elwood focuses on “a couple of apparent relists” from yesterday.
  • Election Law Blog and Appellate Daily highlight snippets of Justice Stevens’ interview with 60 Minutes (which James mentioned yesterday).

Recommended Citation: Nabiha Syed, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Nov. 30, 2010, 10:09 AM),