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Thursday round-up

Yesterday the Court heard arguments in Armour v. Indianapolis, in which the Justices will consider 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. For this blog, Lyle Denniston reports that although some Justices seemed concerned that a ruling for the petitioners would call into question the continuing validity of other government amnesty programs, the petitioners’ “core argument appeared to sit quite well” with the majority of Justices. Maureen Groppe of Gannett (via USA Today) reports that the Justices “appeared split” during arguments. A transcript is available here.

The Court also issued an opinion yesterday in Kurns v. Railroad Friction Products Corporation, holding that petitioners’ state law tort claims – which stem from a railroad employee’s exposure to asbestos at work – are pre-empted by the federal Locomotive Inspection Act. Debra Cassens Weiss of the ABA Journal has coverage.

Tuesday’s arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum  and Mohamad v. Palestinian Authority continue to garner coverage and commentary. [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.] Jess Bravin of the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) notes that the “court’s conservative majority has been reluctant to open U.S. courts to human-rights claims arising through international law, and several justices reiterated those concerns” during arguments in both cases. At the Huffington Post, Valerie Brender contends that whatever the outcome of Kiobel, the decision “will be a watershed moment for corporate accountability.” Writing at Concurring Opinions, Marco Simons contends that at heart, Kiobel is about whether Alien Tort Statute cases end up in federal or state court, while at PrawfsBlawg Trey Childress also offers several observations about the Kiobel arguments.

Commentary on the affirmative action case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, in which the Court recently granted cert., also continues. At Slate, Richard Thompson Ford contends that “affirmative action is the kind of political controversy the courts should stay out of.” And at the Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin explains why a holding banning all explicit race-based preferences in Fisher could be a “pyrrhic victory” for opponents of affirmative action.

On Tuesday, a panel of federal judges in San Antonio approved a new set of interim maps in the Texas redistricting controversy, which continued following the Court’s January decision to remand a previous set of interim maps for further consideration. Laurel Brubaker Calkins of Bloomberg, Chris Tomlinson and Paul J. Weber of the Associated Press, and Manny Fernandez of the New York Times all have coverage.

Finally, the House of Representatives passed the Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2012 yesterday, a response to the Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo v. New London. Jim Abrams of the Associated Press and Debra Cassens Weiss of the ABA Journal have coverage, while at the Volokh Conspiracy Ilya Somin expresses hope that the Senate doesn’t “drag their heels” and fail to vote on the bill as they did in 2005 when the House passed a similar bill.


  • Jacques Billeaud of the Associated Press, Michael Winter of USA Today’s On Deadline blog, and Reuters all report that a federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction which prohibits Arizona from enforcing a provision in S.B. 1070 that is intended to deter the employment of day laborers.
  • The editorial board of the New York Times discusses the Montana campaign finance case as an example of “how the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision has upended important state campaign spending laws.”
  • At the Huffington Post, Corbin Hiar reports on comments by Lawrence Lessig, who argues that “fixing the U.S. election system will require more than just overturning” Citizens United.
  • At Concurring Opinions, Dave Hoffman discusses a recently filed complaint which tests the intentional tort exception to the requirement that a defendant purposefully avail himself of a state’s laws for that state to exercise personal jurisdiction – an exception that Justice Kennedy specifically mentioned in his opinion last Term in McIntyre v. Nicastro.
  • Debra Cassens Weiss of the ABA Journal briefly discusses the significance of record low law review circulation numbers and whether such numbers validate the Chief Justice’s statements last year implying that law reviews are increasingly irrelevant to practitioners.
  • At Forbes, Michael Bobelian explores the impact of the Citizens United decision on 2012 presidential campaign spending.
  • Cynthia Dizikes of the Chicago Tribune and Jesse J. Holland of the Associated Press (via the Wall Street Journal) report on the Court’s denial of a petition filed by Michigan and other states asking the Court to order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take further action to stop Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.
  • Writing in the National Review Online, David B. Rivkin and Andrew M. Grossman urge the Court to grant cert. in a case challenging the constitutionality of some compulsory union fees.
  • The Associated Press reports that Arizona executed Robert Henry Moormann, who was convicted of murdering his mother, shortly after the Court denied a stay yesterday morning.
  • Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico reports on efforts by the Justice Department to persuade the Chief Justice and Justices Scalia and Kennedy to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

Recommended Citation: Kiran Bhat, Thursday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 1, 2012, 9:30 AM),