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Tuesday round-up

Yesterday the Court released three opinions in argued cases, as well as a summary reversal.

United States v. Jones, in which the Court ruled that the warrantless attachment and monitoring of a GPS tracking device constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment, captured most of the headlines. Responses to Jones streamed in almost immediately after the Court’s orders were released; Kali provides an early round-up of these reactions here. JURIST, Courthouse News Service, Wired, ACSblog, Dorf on Law, and PBS News Hour (video) all provide more coverage. Tom Goldstein of this blog explains the “odd alignment” of the Court’s two majority opinions in Jones, while Paul Ohm of Freedom to Tinker characterizes the three opinions in the case as a “near-optimal result” for those who argue that Fourth Amendment jurisprudence insufficiently protects privacy in light of new technology. At the Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr discusses three questions raised by the majority’s trespass test.

Other press coverage focused on yesterday’s decision in National Meat Association v. Harris, in which the Court held that the Federal Meat Inspection Act pre-empts California law regulating the treatment of livestock at slaughterhouses. At Bloomberg, Greg Stohr describes the unanimous ruling as a “setback to animal-rights activists and a victory for the meat industry,” while Tom Goldstein of this blog provides a brief analysis of the opinion. Adam Liptak of the New York Times, Bill Mears of CNN, Robert Barnes of the Washington Post, James Vicini of Reuters (via the Chicago Tribune), the Associated Press (via NPR), JURIST, Courthouse News Service, and UPI all have more coverage. In the Los Angeles Times, David Savage and Matt Stevens report that animal-rights activists are pushing for a legislative response to the Court’s ruling.

And in Reynolds v. United States, the Court clarified the registration requirements of the Sex Offender Registration Act. JURIST and Sentencing Law and Policy provide more details. Finally, in Ryburn v. Huff, the Court summarily reversed a decision of the Ninth Circuit, which had rejected claims of qualified immunity by two police officers who had entered a private residence without a warrant to look for guns while investigating threats of school violence. Mark Walsh of the School Law blog provides a detailed background of the case.


Although the Court did not grant any new cases yesterday, its order list nonetheless garnered attention, as Justice Kagan recused herself from what appeared to be a routine order in the health care litigation.  As Lyle Denniston explained for this blog, however, the recusal came in a motion for divided argument filed by the group Freedom Watch, which filed an amicus brief seeking Kagan’s recusal or disqualification from the case.  “Presumably,” Denniston reasoned, Justice Kagan declined to participate in the disposition of that order (and that order only) “because Freedom Watch had directly challenged her judicial independence.”.

The Caucus blog of the New York Times and Politico also have coverage of the recusal.



  • At the New York Times, Adam Liptak examines the Justices’ attendance record for the State of the Union address – just in time for tonight’s address.
  • At Jost on Justice, Kenneth Jost discusses last week’s decision in Maples v. Thomas and criticizes Alabama, where Maples was convicted, as a “backwater of justice in death penalty cases.”
  • USNews & World Report features an interview with Justice Stevens.
  • Texas has filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Washington under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, seeking preclearance of its voter identification law.  Lyle Denniston covered the lawsuit for this blog, as does Rick Hasen at his Election Law Blog.
  • And at this blog, Kevin Johnson reports on last week’s oral arguments in Vartelas v. Holder.

Recommended Citation: Nabiha Syed, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 24, 2012, 9:51 AM),