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Thursday round-up

Yesterday the Court heard oral argument in Turner v. Rogers and J.D.B. v. North Carolina. Transcripts of both arguments are available here.

In Turner, the Court is considering whether there is a constitutional right to court-appointed counsel in civil contempt proceedings that result in incarceration and whether the Court has jurisdiction to hear the claim in the first place. After the oral argument, Jesse Holland of the Associated Press reported that “the Court sounded reluctant to extend the right to a taxpayer-provided lawyer . . . to civil proceedings where a person faces jail time.”  Similarly, Adam Liptak of the New York Times described the Justices as “appear[ing] frustrated” during the argument, as “[i]t seemed that there were procedural and practical problems with almost every potential ruling.”

In J.D.B., the Court is considering whether a minor has a right to a Miranda warning when being questioned about a crime by a police officer at school. SCOTUSblog’s Lyle Denniston remarks that it is “a truly rare case when [a ‘slippery slope’ argument] occupies the Court and the lawyers for an entire, unrelieved hour,” and this was “[s]uch a case.” At Crime and Consequences,  Kent Scheidegger concludes that the case“[l]ooks like 4-4 with Justice Kennedy in the middle,” while Jesse Holland of the Associated Press is more confident that the Court is “ready to force courts to consider age when examining whether a child in custody and must be given Miranda rights.” USA Today, CNN, McClatchy Newspapers and Education Week’s School Law blog have additional coverage of and commentary on the arguments (Thanks to How Appealing’s Howard Bashman for the last two links.)

NPR’s Nina Totenberg has coverage of both of yesterday’s arguments, as does JURIST.

The two opinions that the Court issued on Tuesday also continue to generate commentary. Barbara Leonard of Courthouse News Service discusses the Court’s opinion in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., which concluded that, for purposes of the anti-retaliation provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the phrase “filed any complaint” includes oral complaints. Writing for the National Law Journal, Tony Mauro notes that the two opinions both “favor[ed] the ‘little guy’ over corporations” and suggests that “[t]he rulings . . . gave anecdotal ammunition to those who insist the Roberts Court does not deserve its reputation as a reflexively ‘pro-business’ Court.”


  • Writing for the New York Times’ Opinionator Blog, Linda Greenhouse provides a “portrait of a term in progress.” Greenhouse “look[s] at voting patterns” in the twenty-five decisions the Court has issued thus far, arguing that “this preliminary snapshot reminds those of us . . . who think they have taken the Court’s measure that assumptions are a poor substitute for close observation.”
  • SCOTUSblog’s own Amy Howe discusses Tuesday’s oral argument in Fox v. Vice, the Section 1988 attorneys’ fees case. She suggests that, “[a]t the end of the argument, it was not at all clear how the Court would rule — nor, for that matter how much the two parties’ proposed rules would be that different in the mine-run of cases.”
  • Also writing for SCOTUSblog, Sophia Lin Lakin discusses Monday’s argument in Tolentino v. New York. She observes that the Justices “[f]ocus[ed] on the practical implications for the police” and “sought an administrable rule.”
  • At Balkinization, Jason Mazzone considers what Maples v. Thomas, a habeas case in which the Court recently granted cert., “tells us about pro bono work at big law firms,” where  “the lawyers representing Maples in the post-conviction proceeding” worked; he argues that the errors committed below raise important “questions about big law representation of pro bono clients.”
  • In the Los Angeles Times, David Savage previews Wal-Mart v. Dukes and features an interview with the plaintiffs’ lawyer Brad Seligman — “a determined civil rights lawyer with a small office and a powerful idea for turning a single lawsuit into a nationwide class action claim against America’s largest employer.”
  • Ed Whelan of the NRO’s Bench Memos responds to the “the Left’s . . . ethics charges against Justice Thomas and Justice Scalia” and “highlight[s] some conduct by liberal Justices” in a three-post series (Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here, and Part 3 is here).
  • At Crime and Consequences, Kent Scheidegger responds to what he describes as Emily Bazelon’s New York Times Magazine “hit piece” on Justice Alito (which James featured in Monday’s round-up). He points to the two decisions issued on Tuesday and Justice Alito’s recently issued opinion in Wall v. Kholi as evidence that – contrary to what Bazelon suggests – Justice Alito does not always vote for corporations and against criminal defendants as Bazelon suggests.

Recommended Citation: Amanda Rice, Thursday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 24, 2011, 3:59 PM),