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Thursday round-up

Considering the possible motivations for Justice Scalia’s forceful dissent in the recent Confrontation Clause decision Michigan v. Bryant in her New York Times Opinionator column, Linda Greenhouse suggests that Scalia “has cast a long shadow but has accomplished surprisingly little. Nearly every time he has come close to achieving one of his jurisprudential goals, his colleagues have either hung back at the last minute or, feeling buyer’s remorse, retreated at the next opportunity.” At the Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr reacts to Greenhouse’s column, countering that Scalia dissents not to persuade his fellow Justices but rather “to influence future generations of law students who then become the next generation of lawyers and judges.”

Meanwhile, reactions to the Court’s recent decision in Snyder v. Phelps, the funeral picketing case, continue to accumulate. The editorial board of the Hartford Courant (Conn.) expresses its support of the decision, in which the Court held that the First Amendment shields Westboro Baptist Church protesters from tort liability. Susan Jacoby, writing at the On Faith blog of the Washington Post, also agrees with the Court’s decision, pointing out that one “salutary effect of allowing vicious people like the Westboro group to speak is that they reveal exactly who they are and what they stand for.” But at the American Spectator, William Murchison disagrees. “Sam Alito stood in lonely, honorable dissent,” Murchison contends, because “no morally healthy society accords unlimited living space to the ugly, the twisted, the debased.”  And although she agrees with the Court’s decision, Lisa Catherine Harper, in a San Francisco Chronicle column, simultaneously sees the case as an occasion to teach children “how to use language with respect, how to enter public conversation with a certain level of decency, how to argue—even in violent disagreement—without resorting to insult or abuse or hyperbolic rhetoric.”


  • The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times commends the Court for its decision on Monday in Skinner v. Switzer, the access-to-DNA case. The board opines that Skinner, “which opens a new avenue of appeal for condemned prisoners, is welcome. But it falls short of what the court should do to make DNA evidence available to every prisoner who requests it.” (Yahoo! News also offers a Q&A on the case.)
  • At SCOTUSblog, James Bickford recaps Monday’s unanimous decision in Wall v. Kholi, a dispute over the scope of “collateral review” in the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA).
  • At ACSblog, Martha Davis marks International Women’s Day with a discussion of Flores-Villar v. United States, which was argued in November. Davis argues that the law at issue in the case, which distinguishes mothers and fathers of foreign-born children for citizenship purposes, should be stripped of its sex-based classifications.
  • Some noted denials of certiorari on Monday’s orders list includes cases about adoption and paternity (the Associated Press (via the Chicago Tribune)), the NFL’s “Spygate” scandal (Courthouse News Service), the “In God We Trust” inscription on U.S. currency (Courthouse News Service), a $277.5 million securities fraud (Courthouse News Service), and public university funding for religious student activities (Courthouse News Service).

Recommended Citation: Adam Chandler, Thursday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 10, 2011, 9:10 AM),