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Tuesday round-up

Coverage centered upon a flurry of activity by the Court yesterday, including the release of three opinions, one grant of certiorari, and several notable denials. This precedes a period of relative quiet: no oral arguments are scheduled for this week, and the next Conference will take place on Friday, March 18.

Almost all major news outlets reported on the opinion in Skinner v. Switzer, in which the Court held that inmates can file lawsuits under federal civil rights laws seeking access to DNA evidence to challenge a state conviction. Several reports on the decision, including Adam Liptak’s story in the New York Times, noted the “tightly focused and quite preliminary” nature of the question; Nina Totenberg of NPR similarly characterized the decision as one that “pried open the courthouse door a crack for prisoners.” Robert Barnes of the Washington Post, Lyle Denniston of this blog, Courthouse News Service, Bloomberg, the WSJ Law Blog, Houston Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, CNN, ABCNews, and USA Today all offer more coverage. Finally, Brandon Garrett, in a guest post at ACSblog, discusses the relationship between federal habeas corpus law and efforts to gain access to DNA evidence.

In another case focused on inmates’ rights, the Court held yesterday in Wall v. Kholi that an inmate’s plea for a reduced sentence tolls the statute of limitations for filing a federal habeas corpus petition. Forbes (via the Associated Press) and JURIST have brief recaps of the case.

And in the third opinion released yesterday, Milner v. Department of the Navy, the Court rejected a broad construction of Exemption 2 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which shields from disclosure only those records that relate to employee relations and human resources issues. The petitioner in this case, Glen Milner, had filed FOIA requests for maps detailing the storage and safety of Navy-owned munitions located on an island near his home. The Seattle Times, Courthouse News Service, the ABA Journal, and the Associated Press all have coverage of the decision.  And Peninsula Daily News notes that more litigation is yet to come before Milner obtains the requested maps.

Yesterday, in Golan v. Holder, the Court rejected a recommendation from the federal government that it deny certiorari and instead agreed to decide whether Congress may renew copyright status for works that have entered the public domain. Lyle Denniston of this blog has coverage of the grant, as do David Kravets of Wired’s Threat Level blog, the Denver Post, and Courthouse News Service.

Several denials of certiorari were also noteworthy yesterday.  First, the Court denied cert. in Louisiana Wholesale Drug Co. v. Bayer AG, a case presenting the question whether “pay-for-delay” drug settlements are lawful under the Sherman Act. The Wall Street Journal characterizes the denial as “the latest signal of [the Court’s] unwillingness to hear a case challenging pharmaceutical patent settlements that can delay the introduction of generic drugs.” Courthouse News Service, Bloomberg, and Reuters all offer more background on the case, while PatentDocs does so in more detail. The Court also declined to review S&M Brands, Inc. v. Caldwell, an attempt to invalidate the 1998 Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement and declare Louisiana laws regarding tobacco enforcement unconstitutional. KATC-Lafayette has statements from Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. Other denials included a petition challenging the inscription of “In God We Trust” on U.S. coins and currency (the San Francisco Chronicle) and a petition asking the Court to revive  a New York Jets fan’s class-action lawsuit against the New England Patriots and coach Bill Belichick over the 2007 “Spygate” videotaping scandal (the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and Bloomberg).  .


-       At the First Amendment Center, David Hudson reflects on the lasting legacy of Talley v. California, in which the Court ruled that the First Amendment protected anonymous speech.

-       John Elwood reviews Monday’s relisted cases on this blog.

-       Lawyers and legal scholars  weigh in on Anthony Weiner’s demand for Justice Thomas to recuse himself from future health care litigation at PolitiFact.

-        Mike Sacks of First One @ One First notes that the Court’s latest order list “features an inversion of the usual recusal pattern for this term.”

-       And in the Boston Review, Pamela Karlan highlights the constitutional problem with the Affordable Care Act.

Recommended Citation: Nabiha Syed, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 8, 2011, 10:21 AM),