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Wednesday round-up

Yesterday the Court heard oral arguments in two cases. In Mohamad v. Palestinian Authority, the Court is considering whether entities can be held liable under the Torture Victim Protection Act, while in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum the issue is whether corporations can be held liable under the Alien Tort Statute for human rights abuses committed abroad.  [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.]  Kali has posted links to transcripts in both cases here.

Press coverage focused predominantly on the arguments in Kiobel.   Writing for this blog, Lyle Denniston reports that “a majority of the Justices looked notably unconvinced” that corporations could be sued in U.S. courts for human rights violations perpetrated abroad; similar observations were made by Mike Sacks at the Huffington Post, Robert Barnes at the Washington Post, Marcia Coyle at the National Law Journal, David G. Savage at the Los Angeles Times, James Vicini at Reuters, Jess Bravin at the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, and Bill Mears of CNN.  Additional coverage comes from Bob Van Voris at Bloomberg, Adam Liptak at the New York Times, Dahlia Lithwick at Slate, Mark Sherman at the Associated Press, Kenneth Anderson at the Volokh Conspiracy, Warren Richey at the Christian Science Monitor, Ariane de Vogue of ABC News, Nico Colombant at the Voice of America, and Lawrence Hurley at Greenwire.  (Thanks to Howard Bashman for the last two links.)  The New York Times’s Room for Debate page also features a discussion of the case, while at Balkinization Marco Simons discusses the arguments advanced by a group of scholars who contend that the Alien Tort Statute should only cover suits “between aliens and citizens.”

Today the Court will hear arguments in Armour v. Indianapolis, presenting the question whether the Constitution allows a city to refuse to refund taxes that some taxpayers paid up front, even though it forgave the remaining taxes of other taxpayers who paid on an installment plan.  Lyle has previewed the case for this blog.


  • At JURIST, Julia Zebley covers Monday’s arguments in Elgin v. Department of Treasury and Wood v. Milyard; Scott Dodson also reported on the argument in Wood for this blog.
  • evaluates a claim by presidential candidate Rick Santorum that Justice Ginsburg “prefers” the South African constitution to the United States Constitution; it concludes that “Santorum’s take on Ginsburg’s comments twisted a handful of words to mean something they did not.”
  • At the Volokh Conspiracy, Randy Barnett discusses a USA Today/Gallup poll “showing that nearly three quarters of Americans . . . believe the individual mandate to be unconstitutional.”
  • At the Constitutional Accountability Center’s Text and History blog, David H. Gans discusses Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the challenge to the University of Texas’s use of race in undergraduate admissions decisions; Gans contends that “if Justice Kennedy pays heed to the text and history of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as his recent opinions, he should make a full break from Chief Justice Roberts and other conservatives on the meaning of equality.”
  • Julian Pecquet at The Hill reports  that “a bipartisan effort to allow cameras in the Supreme Court is not going to pass Congress before the Justices tackle” the challenges to the Affordable Care Act.
  • At the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Sam Favate reports on the growing trend at law schools of offering Supreme Court clinics.
  • Professor Rory Little summarizes last month’s criminal-law decisions for the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section.
  • At the ABA Journal, Debra Cassens Weiss reports on recent remarks made by Justice Scalia at an ABA meeting in New Orleans; elsewhere in the Journal, Weiss also reports on the suggestion (which Nabiha covered in yesterday’s round-up) that Justice Thomas could be a potential Republican presidential nominee in the event of a brokered Republican convention.
  • Jim Abrams of the Associated Press and Pete Kasperowiccz of The Hill’s Floor Action Blog report on a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives seeking to undercut the Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London.
  • At PrawfsBlawg, Rick Hills analyzes last week’s decision in Douglas v. Independent Living Center, describing it as “a case that the media has pretty much ignored but that arguably has . . . important implications for how our federalism operates.”
  • John Gibeaut at the ABA Journal discusses the calls for Justices Thomas and Kagan to recuse themselves from the challenges to the Affordable Care Act and concludes that even after next month’s arguments in the case, “the debate will likely continue.”
  • At the Philadelphia Inquirer, Chris Mondics reports that Justice Sotomayor will attend the opening of a new law school building at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  (Thanks to Howard Bashman for the link.)

Recommended Citation: Conor McEvily, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Feb. 29, 2012, 9:51 AM),