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Tuesday round-up

Today, the Court will hear oral argument in Stern v. Marshall, which Lyle Denniston of this blog has described as a “long-running legal soap opera, fit in some ways for daytime television yet involving serious questions of law.” As Lyle explains, Stern v. Marshall will require the Court to interpret the Bankruptcy Code of 1984 and the federal judiciary’s Article III powers, to “sort out some, but not all, of the complex questions” in the protracted battle between the estates of E. Pierce Marshall and Vickie Lynn Marshall (better known as Anna Nicole Smith). The Associated Press touches upon the basic facts of the case, while The Daily Caller delves into the issue at more depth. Lanny J. Davis and David B. Rivkin, Jr., writing for The Hill’s Pundits Blog, celebrate the “purple moment” offered by the case, explaining how the issue has brought together a “strange-bedfellows coalition of liberals, conservatives, and independents.”

The Court is also scheduled to hear oral argument in two other cases, Smith v. Bayer Corp. and The Boeing Company v. United States (consolidated with General Dynamics Corp. v. United States). Joan Biskupic has a detailed report on the latter in USA Today, calling the paired cases a “rare chance” for the Justices to consider the dimensions of the state-secrets privilege. Lyle Denniston of this blog notes that the Court has not examined the full scope of the doctrine — which allows the government to “short-circuit” a lawsuit because of national security concerns – since 1953. The Wall Street Journal and the Christian Science Monitor also discuss the case, while the editorial board of the Washington Post argues that the Court should “take this opportunity to refine its earlier pronouncements on state secrets that have led lower court judges to err too much in the government’s favor.”

And finally, this morning the Court will release orders from its January 14 Conference (our list of “Petitions to Watch” is available here).


  • At the Washington Post, Robert Barnes clarifies that the Justices are not, in fact, laughing at advocates who appear before them.
  • At his Jost on Justice blog, Ken Jost opines that although “three female justices represent an advance for women,” the conservative majority on the Court has “shown no special awareness of the history of discrimination against women in law and society.”

Recommended Citation: Nabiha Syed, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 18, 2011, 9:18 AM),