on Mar 29, 2011 at 9:05 am
Today the Court will hear oral argument in Wal-Mart v. Dukes. At issue in the case is whether a federal court may hear a nationwide class-action suit on behalf of hundreds of thousands of women alleging pay and promotion discrimination by their employer, Wal-Mart. Coverage has focused on the blockbuster nature of the case, calling it â€œthe largest class-action employment lawsuit in U.S. historyâ€ (CNN) and the â€œbiggest case of the termâ€ (the Atlantic). Nina Totenberg explores whether Wal-Mart is too big for a class-action suit at NPR. Richard Thompson Ford, writing for Slate, argues that â€œthe continuing viability of one of the most important means of enforcing laws against discriminationâ€ is at stake in the case, while Sarah Crawford, writing for ACSblog, characterizes the case as â€œanother milestone in the struggle for fair pay for women.â€. The Chicago Sun-Times and ForbesWoman examine the role of social science research â€“ and in particular, a sociologistâ€™s theory that white men have an unconscious bias against women â€“in the case.. The Washington Postâ€™s Political Economy blog has an overview of the case, including a timeline and background. Amanda Frost of this blog rounds up academic commentary on the case, while Lyle Denniston previews the argument for this blog. ABCNews (video), Reuters, and the San Francisco Chronicle also have coverage.
Yesterday’s oral argument also drew significant media attention. In Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, consolidated with McComish v. Bennett, the Court considers the constitutionality of Arizona’s publicly funded campaign scheme under the Citizens Clean Elections Act. Most reports on the oral argument â€“ including Adam Liptak in the New York Times, Lyle Denniston of this blog, Joan Biskupic of USA Today, Robert Barnes of the Washington Post, and Jess Bravin of the Wall Street Journal â€“ suggest that the Court is likely to strike down the law as unconstitutional. Warren Richey of Christian Science Monitor observes that the oral argument seemed â€œdivided along well-established liberal-conservative linesâ€; similarly, David Savage of Los Angeles Times reports that the court’s liberal justices spoke up in defense of Arizona’s law, but appeared to be one vote short of majority, and Bill Mears of CNN reports that the Court’s conservative majority â€œappeared to hold the cardsâ€ in the case. Finally, at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick suggests that â€œthere is no principleâ€ that the Chief Justice and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito â€œwill fight harder to preserve than the right of the impossibly wealthy to purchase as much speech as they want and need to win a political campaign.â€
Yesterday, as Adam Schlossman of this blog reported, the Court also issued orders from the Justices’ March 25 Conference. Â Garnering notable commentary was the Court’s rejection, without noted dissent, of all innocence pleas made by Georgia death-row prisoner Troy Davis. As Lyle Denniston of this blog explains, this â€œbrought to a sudden end a two-decades-long campaign to spare Davis’s life, on the theories that most of those who testified against him have recanted and that another man did the killing, and has since admitted it.â€ CNN (video), the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution all offer more coverage. WSJ Law Blog notes â€œanother odd twist in an already odd caseâ€: Georgia prosecutors cannot schedule Davis’s execution â€œbecause federal regulators have seized the state’s entire supply of a key lethal injection drugâ€; the Associated Press also has coverage of the story. The Court also denied certiorari in a dispute over land transfers in California, as Greenwire reports. Finally, as Education Week, Appellate Daily, and Courthouse News Service report, the Court granted certiorari in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, a case involving the scope of the ministerial exception to employment-discrimination laws.