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Thursday round-up

Yesterday the Court heard oral argument in two cases. In the first, Sykes v. United States, it considered whether fleeing the police in a car, after being ordered to stop, constitutes a “violent felony” for purposes of the Armed Career Criminal Act. At issue in the second case, Kentucky v. King, are the circumstances in which lawful police action impermissibly “creates” exigent circumstances, such that the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement does not apply. Transcripts of both arguments are available here.

Kentucky v. King, the exigent circumstances case, garnered the lion’s share of the media attention. After what the Volokh Conspiracy’s Orin Kerr describes as a “messy” oral argument, most journalists and commentators predict that the Court will uphold the warrantless search. NPR’s Nina Totenberg suggests that the respondent’s lawyer “seemed unable to persuade the justices that she had a workable rule.” And Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick predicts that the Court is “poised to eviscerate the warrant requirement in a broad class of ‘exigent’ situations.”  Lithwick also discusses the argument in Sykes v. United States, the Armed Career Criminal Act case. The Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, USA Today, the Associated Press, the Crime & Consequences blog, and PoliceOne have additional coverage of the argument in King. JURIST briefly summarizes both of yesterday’s cases.

Courthouse News Service and JURIST have additional coverage of the Court’s order, issued late Tuesday, staying the execution of Texas death row inmate Cleve Foster, an Army veteran convicted in 2002 of rape and murder. See yesterday’s round-up for additional coverage of the order.


  • At JURIST, Andrea Bottorff discusses Goodyear Luxembourg Tires v. Brown and J. McIntyre Machinery v. Nicastro, the pair of personal jurisdiction cases in which the Court heard oral argument on Tuesday.
  • Julian Pecquet of The Hill reports that the Court’s decision in Mayo Foundation v. United States, the medical resident payroll tax case, is rekindling debate over the length of  medical residents’ shifts.  If residents “are properly deemed workers . . . for purposes of paying Social Security taxes,” a spokesperson for Public Citizen argues, they “should also have other protections afforded to workers.”
  • At the Atlantic, Garrett Epps ponders whether and how the Arizona shootings might influence the Court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence. He suggests that “there will be a number of chances in the next few years to clarify how ‘fundamental’ the right to bear arms is, and the court may be more circumspect in its language as a result of events like the Tucson shooting.”
  • Writing for PrawfsBlawg, Steve Vladeck argues that, assuming Justice Kagan “is recused from all matters Guantanamo,” the Court won’t overturn the D.C. Circuit’s Guantanamo decisions “until and unless one of the Boumediene dissenters is willing to even consider chastising the D.C. Circuit for refusing to follow a decision from which they themselves dissented.”
  • At the ABA Journal, Debra Weiss highlights a cert. petition challenging the constitutionality of a North Carolina sodomy law.
  • At Overlawyered, Walter Olson comments on the Court’s denial of mandamus in Comer v. Murphy Oil, the Gulf Coast global warming case out of the Fifth Circuit.
  • Jennifer Steinhauer of the Caucus Blog of the New York Times reports that Justice Kennedy traveled with the President on Air Force One to attend a memorial service in Tucson on Wednesday evening. Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor also attended the memorial service.
  • Michael Doyle of the Kansas City Star reports that Michael Newdow, a “California lawyer and dedicated atheist,” filed a cert. petition challenging the presence of “In God We Trust” on U.S. currency. He has also filed a petition “challenging the phrase ‘so help me God’ in the presidential oath,” and expects to file a third petition “challenging the Pledge of Allegiance.”
  • At the National Law Journal, Tony Mauro analyzes Justice Kagan’s debut opinion in Ransom v. FIA Card Services, noting that she “embraced the use of footnotes, the ‘ordinary meaning’ school of statutory interpretation, the Oxford English Dictionary, and the kindly professor approach to announcing decisions.” See yesterday’s round-up for additional commentary on the opinion.

Recommended Citation: Amanda Rice, Thursday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 13, 2011, 11:00 AM),