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Wednesday round-up

Yesterday was a busy one for Court watchers, as the Court issued opinions in four cases and heard oral arguments in two more.

In Smith v. Cain, the Court held that the failure of prosecutors in the New Orleans district attorney’s office to fulfill their constitutional duty (under the 1963 decision in Brady v. Maryland) to share with defense lawyers all of the evidence they had which might help the accused required the reversal of the petitioner’s murder conviction.  In addition to Lyle’s coverage at this blog, the opinion drew coverage from Robert Barnes at the Washington Post, Adam Liptak at the New York Times, David Savage at the Los Angeles Times, Kent Scheidegger at Crime and Consequences, Debra Cassens Weiss at the ABA Journal, Joan Biskupic at USA Today, John Simerman at the New Orleans Times-Picayune (thanks to Howard Bashman for the link), and the Associated Press (via the Washington Post).

In CompuCredit v. Greenwood, the Court held that because the Credit Repair Organizations Act is silent on whether claims can proceed in an arbitrable forum, the Federal Arbitration Act requires the arbitration agreement to be enforced according to its terms.  Providing coverage of the decision were Greg Stohr of Bloomberg Businessweek, James Vicini of Reuters, Jim Puzzanghera of the Los Angeles Times, Debra Cassens Weiss of the ABA Journal, and Jaclyn Belczyk of JURIST.

In Minneci v. Pollard, the Court reversed a Ninth Circuit decision and held that because, in this particular case, state tort law authorized adequate alternative damages actions, no Bivens remedy could be implied.  Lyle Denniston at this blog, James Vicini of Reuters, Michael Doyle of McClatchy Newspapers, Debra Cassens Weiss of the ABA Journal, Steven D. Schwinn of Constitutional Law Prof Blog, and Hillary Stemple of JURIST all cover the decision.

Finally, in Gonzales v. Thaler, the Court found the petitioner’s appeal untimely, holding that Section 2253(c)(3) is a mandatory but nonjurisdictional rule; that the failure of a certificate of appealability to “indicate” a constitutional issue does not deprive a court of appeals of jurisdiction to adjudicate the appeal; and that, for a state prisoner who does not seek review in a state’s highest court, the judgment becomes “final” for purposes of Section 2244(d)(1)(A) upon “expiration of the time for seeking such review.”  Coverage and commentary comes from the Associated Press, Hillary Stemple at JURIST, and Kent Scheidegger of Crime and Consequences.   Additional details on the four opinions released today can be found in Kali’s post here.

The Court also heard oral arguments in two cases yesterday.  (Transcripts of both arguments can be found here.)

In FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., the Court will consider whether the Federal Communications Commission’s standards for indecency on television are too vague to be constitutional. Nearly every major outlet covered the argument, including Lyle at this blog, Greg Stohr at Bloomberg Businessweek, Robert Barnes at the Washington Post, Mike Sacks at the Huffington Post, Nina Totenberg at NPR, Joan Biskupic at USA Today, Adam Liptak at the New York Times, David Savage at the Los Angeles Times, Dahlia Lithwick at Slate, Bill Mears at CNN, Warren Richey at the Christian Science Monitor, James Vicini at Reuters, Mark Sherman at the Associated Press, Garrett Epps at the Atlantic, Ruthann Robson at the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, and Peter Voskmp at TheWrap.  Commentary came from the editorial board at the Los Angeles Times, which argues that “[p]unishing a broadcaster for inadvertent remarks over which it has no control makes no sense.”  The case was also the subject of yesterday’s “Today in the Community” segment at this blog.

The second case in which the Court heard oral argument yesterday was Knox v. Service Employees Int’l Union, Local 1000, in which Court will consider whether the First Amendment gives state employees the right to decline to pay union dues for political advocacy by the union.  Mark Walsh of the “School Law” portion of the blog Education Week provides coverage. (Thanks to Howard Bashman for the link).

Monday’s arguments and opinions also continued to generate coverage.  Steven D. Schwinn at Constitutional Law Prof Blog and Jeremy Leaming at ACSblog both discuss arguments in the Texas redistricting cases, and the Blog of Legal Times provides a PBS News Hour video in which Marcia Coyle analyzes some of the issues before the Court.  The Court’s summary affirmance in Bluman v. Federal Election Commission upholding a ban on campaign contributions and independent political expenditures by foreign nationals also drew continuing coverage from Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy and Debra Cassens Weiss at the ABA Journal.

Several Court watchers also remarked on Monday’s denial of cert. in Cash v. Maxwell, which left intact a ruling that overturned murder convictions in two killings connected to the “skid row stabber,” allegedly responsible for the slaying of several homeless men in Los Angeles in the 1970s.  Providing coverage are David Savage of the Los Angeles Times, Bob Egelko at the San Francisco Chronicle, Debra Cassens Weiss of the ABA Journal, Michael Doyle at McClatchy Newspapers (via the Miami Herald), and the Associated Press (via the Washington Post).

At this blog, Lyle reports on yesterday’s filing by the states in the health care litigation; the states are seeking to overturn the mandatory state expansion of the Medicaid program.  Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico also provides coverage.  And at the Volokh Conspiracy, Randy Barnett posts a timetable for the proceedings in that litigation.


  • Jack Martone of this blog previews Roberts v. Sea-Land Services, which will be argued today.
  • Larissa Lidsky at PrawfsBlawg discusses “the impression among media law scholars . . . that the Court in the last decade or so has not been taking ‘press’ cases at the same rate it did in . . . the early 1990s or before.”
  • Joe Palazzolo of the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog discusses a Yale Law student’s proposal to avoid potential delay in resolving the health care cases that may result from the Tax Anti-Injunction Act: having the federal administration sue a state that intends to resist enforcement of the health care law.  Bob Loblaw of Tax Prof Blog also covers the proposal.
  • Andrew Longstreth of Reuters (via the Chicago Tribune) writes that last Term’s Wal-Mart v. Dukes has “lived up to the hype,” as it has already been cited by lower courts 260 times.
  • At The Hill, Ronald Goldfarb proposes a solution to the Court’s disputed recusal policy: the Court could “adopt[] a rule of its own, based on prevailing ethical standards, and assign[] the administration and governance of recusal motions to a panel . . . of federal judges.”

Recommended Citation: Conor McEvily, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 11, 2012, 9:31 AM),