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Wednesday round-up

Yesterday the Court heard oral arguments in Howes v. Fields, Martinez v. Ryan, and Maples v. Thomas, with coverage largely focusing on the latter of the three.  Kiera has provided links to the transcripts in all of yesterday’s arguments here.

In Maples, the Court is considering whether a defendant is prohibited from arguing the unconstitutionality of his death sentence in federal habeas court because – through no fault of his own – his lawyers missed a filing deadline in the Alabama state court.  Reporting on the argument, Adam Liptak of the New York Times observes that “several justices seemed inclined to find a way to help Mr. Maples and appeared to be frustrated by the conduct of Alabama officials” – a conclusion echoed by Mark Sherman of the Associated Press, James Vicini of Reuters (via the Los Angeles Times), MJ Lee of Politico, and Mike Sacks of the Huffington Post.  Dahlia Lithwick of Slate, Joan Biskupic of USA Today, Martha Nell of the ABA Journal, Bill Mears of CNN, Ariane de Vogue of ABCNews, and David Savage of the Los Angeles Times also have coverage of the argument.  Finally, the editorial board of the Birmingham News weighs in on the case, which it characterizes as boiling down to whether the Court “value[s] life . . . as much as it does a piece of property.”

In Howes, the Court heard arguments regarding whether a prisoner is always “in custody” for Miranda purposes, thereby entitling him to Miranda warnings, when he is merely isolated from the general prison population and questioned about conduct occurring outside the prison.  The Associated Press (via the Washington Post) has coverage of the oral argument and concludes that the Court seemed “split.”   The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times urges the Court to rule in the prisoner’s favor and “close an unconscionable loophole in the Miranda rule.”

In Martinez, the Court is considering whether a criminal defendant has a right to effective counsel at trial and in subsequent challenges to his conviction.  Cronkite News has coverage of the oral argument, as does Crime and Consequences.  At ACSblog, a link to a new American Constitution Society Issue Brief examines Martinez along with Maples and the upcoming case Martel v. Clair, all of which touch on criminal defendants’ right to counsel.

Today the Court hears arguments in two more cases, Golan v. Holder and Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v EEOC.  [Disclosure:  Goldstein & Russell, whose attorneys work for (and contribute to) the blog in various capacities, represents the petitioners in Golan and filed an amicus brief in support of the respondent in Hosanna-Tabor, but the author of this post is not involved in either case.]  For this blog, Lyle previews Golan, which presents the question whether Congress may restore copyright protection to a work whose protection had previously expired and was thus part of the public domain.  Robert Barnes of the Washington Post also has coverage of the case.  In a New York Times op-ed, Peter Decherney urges the Court to rule in favor of the petitioners, arguing that “access to a stable and growing public domain has been essential to innovation.”  At the Huffington Post, Lewis Hyde agrees, emphasizing that the public domain is a “valuable guarantor of both free trade and free expression.”  In Hosanna-Tabor, the Court will decide whether the federal employment discrimination statutes, which generally do not apply to church employees performing religious functions, apply to teachers at a religious elementary school.  Nina Totenberg previews the case at NPR, while Michael McConnell and Rick Garnett weigh in on the case in the Wall Street Journal and at PrawfsBlawg, respectively.

Several of the Court’s recent denials of certiorari continue to generate attention.  James Vicini of Reuters (via the Los Angeles Times) and Ben Sisario of the New York Times Media Decoder blog both cover Tuesday’s denial of cert. in American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers v. United States, while Nathan Koppel at the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog reports on the denial of cert. in two other cases involving the Second Amendment and the Ten Commandments in a courtroom.  And Emery P. Dalesio of the Associated Press (via Forbes) covers a recent cert. denial in a case seeking to appeal criminal charges accusing a North Carolina company of violating federal clean water law.

United States v. Jones, in which the Court will consider whether the warrantless use of a tracking device on a car violates the Fourth Amendment, also generated debate and commentary yesterday.  The ACLU’s Blog of Rights, Jim Harper at Cato@Liberty, and Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy all discuss the case and the briefs filed in it, while Wired reports that the inventor of the Global Positioning System is urging the Court to rule against the government in the case.

Finally, coverage of the recent challenges to the Affordable Care Act continue.  At the Washington Post’s Post Partisan blog, Charles Lane urges the Justices to dismiss the case for lack of standing, while at Politico J. Lester Feder notes the unlikely but “not impossible” prospect that the Court “could wait to take the case until other challenges to the [Act] have made their way through the lower courts.”  Finally, JURIST reports on Virginia’s recent filing of a cert. petition seeking review of the Fourth Circuit’s decision holding that it lacked standing to challenge the Act.


  • At NPR, Nina Totenberg reviews Justice John Paul Stevens’s recently released memoir, Five Chiefs.
  • Tim Mak of Politico and Debra Cassens Weiss of the ABA Journal both report on the results of a recent Gallup poll on the Court.
  • Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Breyer, and Alito all attended the annual Red Mass this past Sunday, according to the Christian Post.
  • With Justices Breyer and Scalia scheduled to testify on an upcoming Senate hearing on “the role of judges under the Constitution,” Bob Edgar at the Huffington Post urges senators to ask them how “members of the court deal with ethical questions.”
  • At CNN, Bill Mears notes that this year marks Justice Thomas’s twentieth on the Court.  Mears observes that the Justice is presently enjoying “a professional renaissance of sorts, becoming a key behind-the-scenes force on the right-leaning bench.”
  • The editorial board of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram agrees with a recent New York Times op-ed penned by Ken Starr advocating for cameras in the Supreme Court.
  • Kedar Bhatia at this blog looks at some of the statistical trends of the cases the Court has already accepted for review.
  • At this blog, Ronald Mann previews CompuCredit Corp. v. Greenwood, which is scheduled for oral argument next week.

Recommended Citation: Conor McEvily, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Oct. 5, 2011, 9:55 AM),