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Monday round-up

The weekend’s coverage of the Court focused on the upcoming oral arguments in a pair of international human rights cases – Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum and Mohamad v. Palestinian Authority – as well as last week’s cert. grant in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin and the arguments in United States v. Alvarez.

At oral arguments tomorrow in Kiobel, the Court will consider whether corporations can be sued for violations of the law of nations under the Alien Tort Statute; at issue in Mohamad is whether an organization can be held liable under the Torture Victim Protection Act. Lyle Denniston of this blog previews both cases, as does Mark Sherman of the Associated Press. David Savage of the Los Angeles Times focuses on Kiobel, as do Daniel Fisher of Forbes, the Brennan Center’s Faiza Patel and Emin Akopyan, and James Vicini of Reuters. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Peter Weiss argues that if the Court rules against the petitioners in Kiobel, multinational corporations “could draw the lesson that it is now safer to forge alliances with autocratic regimes that have poor human rights records because they will not be judged culpable in the way individuals can be.” In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Ka Hsaw Wa urges the Court to continue “to provide a legal forum for accountability and justice,” rather than allowing the country to become “a haven for companies that are allegedly complicit in the most heinous crimes.” [Disclosure:  Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog, serves as counsel to the petitioners in Mohamad, but the author of this post is not involved in the case.]

The Court’s cert. grant last Thursday in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin – in which the Court will consider the constitutionality of the University of Texas’s admissions policies – continued to draw coverage this weekend. The Texas Tribune’s Morgan Smith profiles Edward Blum, the “driving force” behind the lawsuit, while NPR’s Michel Martin discusses the case with law school deans Kevin Johnson and Jim Chen. At the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the editorial board does not take a side, instead expressing its hope that the case will serve as “a backdrop for thoughtful debate about the meaning of equal protection and the best mechanisms for fulfilling our national commitment to providing it for everyone.”

Finally, commentators continue to weigh in on last week’s oral arguments in United States v. Alvarez, the First Amendment challenge to the Stolen Valor Act. Writing for the Washington Examiner, Ken Klukowski suggests that Justice Anthony Kennedy may have “tipped his hand on how the government could win this case” when he said that “he could accept that a military medal is similar to a trademark—a logo or symbol in which the maker has a vested interest that is protected by law against unauthorized use by others.”  The editorial board of the Philadelphia Inquirer argues that the Court should strike down the Stolen Valor Act because public exposure of the speaker’s lies is sufficient punishment; similarly, in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Michael McGough argues that lies which do not cause any harm are not statements that a free society should criminalize.


  • Maureen Groppe of the Indianapolis Star previews Wednesday’s oral arguments in Armour v. Indianapolis, in which the Court will consider an Equal Protection Clause challenge to Indianapolis’s refusal to refund taxes to some of the city’s taxpayers.
  • The Associated Press reports that the man charged with the robbery of Justice Stephen Breyer has been released on bail.
  • UPI’s Michael Kirkland covers a cert. petition from a Texas death row inmate urging the Court to recognize a freestanding actual innocence claim.
  • The Washington Post’s Justin Moyer discusses a new study which indicates that the Court’s views mirror those of the American public, despite popular images of the Justices as “rogue activists.”
  • Steve Miletich of the Seattle Times reports on an amicus brief filed by two police groups, which have urged the Court to grant cert. in a case involving three Seattle police officers who repeatedly used a Taser on a pregnant woman during a traffic stop.
  • David Savage and Catherine Saillant of the Los Angeles Times report on reactions to last week’s decision in Kawashima v. Holder, holding that the underreporting of income on federal tax returns by two lawful permanent residents constitutes an “aggravated felony.”
  • According to the Associated Press, Wyoming has announced that it plans to file a cert. petition asking the Court to review its challenge to a federal rule barring development on nearly fifty million acres of roadless areas in the state’s national forests.
  • In an op-ed for the Washington Times, Phil Kerpen argues that the Court must invalidate all of the Affordable Care Act, rather than simply the individual mandate, because “leaving the rest of the law’s structure intact . . . will greatly accelerate the damage done to insurance markets, driving smaller insurers out of business so quickly that it may be impossible to contain the damage.”
  • At the Los Angeles Times, Richard A. Serrano reports on the effects that next month’s oral arguments in Jackson v. Hobbs and Miller v. Alabama, involving the constitutionality of life without parole for teenage offenders, could have on some California inmates.
  • At the Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog, Julia Angwin reports on recent comments by the FBI General Counsel, who told the audience at a San Francisco conference that the Court’s decision in United States v. Jones has prompted the Bureau to turn off roughly three thousand GPS devices that were previously in use.
  • At the National Review Online, John Gordon discusses Georgia-Pacific West v. Northwest Environmental Law Center, in which the Court has called for the views of the Solicitor General; he urges the government to recommend that cert. be granted because, “in this case, environmental activists are not on the side of the environment.”
  • At this blog, Michael Smith provides analysis of the Court’s decision last week in Messerschmidt v. Millender, in which the Justices held that the officers in the case were entitled to qualified immunity, even though they may have erred in executing a search warrant that lacked probable cause.
  • Also at this blog, Anne Bowen Poulin covered Wednesday’s oral arguments in Blueford v. Arkansas, in which the Court will consider whether the Double Jeopardy Clause bars the reprosecution of a greater offense after a jury deadlocks on a lesser-included offense, but announces that it has voted against guilt on the greater offense.



Recommended Citation: Marissa Miller, Monday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Feb. 27, 2012, 9:47 AM),