on Apr 6, 2011 at 10:02 am
The biggest headline emerging from the Supreme Court yesterday was its orders to stay two imminent executions. Death-row inmates in Arizona and Texas were scheduled to be executed yesterday, until the Court intervened. â€œBoth men raised claims that they had been denied the effective assistance of counsel,â€ reports the Wall Street Journal; the inmatesâ€™ lawyers have suggested that the Courtâ€™s â€œback-to-back stays could signal its interest in tackling issues regarding the adequacy of representation.â€ SCOTUSblogâ€™s Lyle Denniston reports that the issue raised by both cases â€“ â€œwhether there is a constitutional right to a lawyer performing effectively in a new challenge started after a conviction has become finalâ€ â€“ â€œhas lingered unresolved for two decades.â€ The New York Times, the WSJ Law Blog, CNN, the Associated Press (via the Washington Post) (also here), the Los Angeles Times, Reuters (also here), the Houston Chronicle, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and ABA Journal all have coverage of the stays.
Also in the news are the public appearances made by two Justices yesterday. Chief Justice Roberts paid a surprise visit to the University of Utahâ€™s law school yesterday, during which he served as a moot court judge and spoke to fifth- and sixth-grade students mentored by the Utah law students. KSL (Salt Lake City), Fox 13 (Salt Lake City), and ABC4 (Salt Lake City) all have reports on the Chief Justiceâ€™s visit. And Justice Breyer was in Little Rock at the invitation of the University of Arkansasâ€™s Clinton School of Public Service. Justice Breyerâ€™s remarks touched on Brown v. Board of Education, Bush v. Gore, Citizens United v. FEC, and Snyder v. Phelps. The Associated Press (via the Washington Post) and Arkansas News have more details on that visit.
Meanwhile, reactions to Mondayâ€™s taxpayer-standing ruling in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn continue to roll in. The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal applauds the ruling and remarks that it is â€œis notable mainly for its insight into the progressive mind,â€ but Eric Zorn, blogging for the Chicago Tribune, expresses sympathy for much of Justice Kaganâ€™s dissent. Writing in Slate, Avi Schick is critical of both sides. He draws an analogy between the case and the proposed No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act and argues that the debates over both â€œmerely convince a disenchanted public that those in power in Washington will make arguments that suit them at the moment but will thereafter be discarded.â€ The editorial board of the Christian Science Monitor draws a different analogy entirely, looking for clues in Justice Kennedyâ€™s majority opinion to how he might rule on the health care reform litigationÂ currently working its way to the Court.
Finally, last weekâ€™s decision in Connick v. Thompson, which Jessica Fitts recapped for SCOTUSblog yesterday, has drawn some fresh criticism. The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times calls the decision â€œan unhappy and unjust ending to Thompsonâ€™s dramatic storyâ€ that fails to â€œput government officials on notice . . . to train and discipline their employees.â€ And at the Huffington Post, Locke Bowman criticizes â€œthe Courtâ€™s sunny view of the criminal justice systemâ€™s ability to police itself.â€