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Wednesday round-up

Yesterday’s oral argument in AT&T Mobility Services v. Concepcion—which the New York Times describes as “[t]he most significant business case of the Supreme Court term so far”—has dominated coverage of the Court. In the Washington Post, Bob Barnes notes  that “[t]he case has been billed as one of the court’s most important on consumer rights in years, with civil rights organizations and consumer groups on one side and, on the other, businesses worried about the costs of lawyer-driven class-action suits.” Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick, taking a lighter approach, explains that the case sits “at the white-hot epicenter of three almost completely inexplicable doctrines: federal preemption, federal arbitration policy, and class action.”

Overall, post-argument predictions about the case’s outcome tilt toward a victory by respondents Vincent and Liza Concepcion, but not everyone was willing to make predictions based on the argument.  CNN’s Bill Mears concludes that “[t]he dense hour of debate revealed little of the justices’ thinking,” while Bloomberg’s Greg Stohr predicts merely that the Justices “are likely to divide in the case,” and the National Law Journal’s Tony Mauro says only that “victory for consumers and class action litigators seemed possible.” But Lithwick, the Associated Press (via NPR), the Wall Street Journal’s Jess Bravin, and Elizabeth Wydra (writing at ACSblog) go further and predict, with varying degrees of certainty, that the Concepcions will prevail against AT&T.

Despite the predictions, the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune expresses support for AT&T’s position, explaining that arbitration “makes more sense than sending millions to lawyers and useless coupons to consumers in class-action settlements.”  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Robin Conrad agrees, writing at Bench Memos that “[a]lthough class actions may be very good for trial lawyers, well-structured arbitration is very good for consumers.”

The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Courthouse News Service, Talk Media News, and the Wonk Room also have coverage of the argument in Concepcion. Yesterday’s second argument, in the habeas case Cullen v. Pinholster, is covered at Courthouse News Service and briefly at JURIST.


  • A New York Times editorial praises retired Justice John Paul Stevens for his recent comments on the proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero, calling his remarks “one of the sanest and most instructive arguments for tolerance that we have heard in a long time.”
  • On her CBSNews blog “Crossroads,” Jan Crawford discusses the “fascinating tidbits” former President George W. Bush reveals about his Supreme Court appointments in his new book Decision Points. One new detail: “Federal appeals court Judge Priscilla Owen was the other top contender before Mr. Bush decided to nominate [Harriet] Miers.”
  • At Slate, Kristin Collins and Linda Kerber argue that the Court should strike down a law that distinguishes mothers and fathers of foreign-born children for citizenship purposes. That issue is before the Court in Flores-Villar v. United States, which will be argued this morning. (SCOTUSblog’s preview is here.)
  • Also at Slate, Noah Feldman ruminates on how Justices Sotomayor and Kagan will “define their judicial careers in relation to each other.” Mike Sacks comments on Feldman’s piece at First One @ One First.
  • And finally, Seth Stern, coauthor of Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion, has an essay at the Huffington Post on the “profound disconnect” between Justice Brennan’s gender equality decisions and his reluctance to hire female law clerks.

Recommended Citation: Adam Chandler, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Nov. 10, 2010, 9:29 AM),