Breaking News

Thursday round-up

On May 18, Justice Thomas will be the guest speaker at the opening of a new courthouse in Augusta, Georgia. At The BLT, Tony Mauro picks up local news reports that “several local officials are upset that Thomas will be the guest speaker.” The building is named for John Ruffin Jr., “a local civil rights lawyer who became the first black judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals.”  State Court Judge David Watkins, for example, was quoted by the Augusta Chronicle as stating that Justice Thomas’s “judicial philosophy is the antonym of what Judge Ruffin’s was and what it is in the vast majority of the minority community.”

On Tuesday, the Court declined to stay the execution of Benny J. Stevens, who was convicted of killing his ex-wife, her husband, her eleven-year-old son, and the son’s ten-year-old friend.   As a result of a shortage of the drug sodium thiopental, which Mississippi had previously used for lethal injections, he became the first person in the state to be executed using a new drug cocktail that includes pentobarbital, a drug normally used to euthanize animals.   USA Today, the Associated Press, and Reuters all have coverage.    (Thanks to Crime and Consequences for the tip.)

Finally, coverage of the challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act continues. On Tuesday, the Fourth Circuit heard back-to-back oral arguments in two Virginia challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Conor covered initial reactions in yesterday’s round-up, including a post by Orin Kerr of the Volokh Conspiracy suggesting that the panel was “baffled by the proposed activity/inactivity distinction.” Jonathan Adler, also of the Volokh Conspiracy, is “baffled that anyone is baffled by the activity/inactivity distinction”; he argues that “[t]he distinction between activity and inactivity is not an alien concept to the law.”  Fellow conspirator Randy Barnett also chimes in, highlighting a recurring line of questioning by Judge Motz that suggests she is “genuinely bothered – not baffled – by the lack of activity.” And conspirator David Bernstein looks at the record of Democratic appointees in Commerce Clause cases. The WSJ Law Blog, ACSBlog, PrawfsBlawg, and JURIST have additional coverage of the Fourth Circuit arguments.


  • At Just Enrichment, Michael Kenneally discusses Sorrell v. IMS Health, Inc., the prescription drug records First Amendment case in which the Court heard oral argument two weeks ago. He argues that a doctor’s prescribing information is not commercial speech, and, even if it is, “the regulation should be subject to something like the scrutiny of Central Hudson squared.” (Disclosure: Goldstein, Howe and Russell P.C. represents the respondents IMS Health, SDI, and Verispan in this case.)


Recommended Citation: Amanda Rice, Thursday round-up, SCOTUSblog (May. 12, 2011, 8:29 AM),