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Tuesday round-up

The Justices ended an eventful month by releasing three opinions, granting two orders, and asking the Solicitor General for its views on two more cases. The Justices will return for their April sitting on April 16.

On Monday, in Florence v. Board of Freeholders, the Justices held that because search procedures at the county jails struck a reasonable balance between inmate privacy and the needs of institutions, individuals arrested and held temporarily could be subjected to a routine strip search so long as it involves only a visual inspection. Lyle Denniston analyzes the opinion for this blog; he notes that “some difference of emphasis among the five Justices in the majority made it appear that the decision might be more limited than at first glance.” Greg Stohr of Bloomberg, Nina Totenberg of NPR, Robert Barnes of the Washington Post, Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle, Warren Richey of the Christian Science Monitor, Jess Bravin of the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Mike Sacks of the Huffington Post, Reuters, JURIST, Associated Press, Adam Liptak of the New York Times, and AFP also have coverage of the decision, which Bernard Harcourt (writing at Balkinization) characterizes as “alarming.” [Disclosure:  The law firm of Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, represents the petitioner in Florence.]

In Rehberg v. Paulk, the Justices unanimously held that a witness in a grand jury proceeding is entitled to the same absolute immunity from suit under Section 1983 as a witness who testifies at trial; the Associated Press (via the Washington Post) and Courthouse News Service have coverage. Tejinder Singh of this blog analyzes the Justices’ decision to dismiss Vasquez v. United States (argued in March) as improvidently granted; Courthouse News Service also has coverage.

The Court granted certiorari yesterday in Moncrieffe v. Holder, in which it will consider whether possession of marijuana with intent to distribute constitutes an aggravated felony, increasing the likelihood that a non-citizen may be deported for such an offense. crImmigration provides a detailed look at the background of the case. [Disclosure:  The law firm of Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, represents the petitioner in Moncrieffe.]

In Arkansas Game and Fish Commission v. United States, the second case in which the Court granted certiorari yesterday, the Justices will consider whether purposefully flooding land is a Fifth Amendment taking. Courthouse News Service provides a brief overview of the case.

Finally, the Court invited the Solicitor General to file briefs expressing the views of the United States in two cases, Tarrant Regional Water District v. Herrmann and Bowman v. Monsanto Co.  In the first case, the Court will considers the application of the dormant Commerce Clause to an interstate water compact between Oklahoma and Texas; the Associated Press (via Bloomberg BusinessWeek) and the Star-Telegram.  In the latter case, the Court will consider the scope of patent exhaustion in patented seeds.

 Last week’s oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act continued to generate coverage and commentary, especially after President Obama expressed his confidence that the Court will uphold the Act. Lyle Denniston of this blog analyzes the comments, as do Gerard Magliocca at Balkinization and Jonathan Adler at the Volokh Conspiracy. Others, including Marty Lederman at Balkinization, Ori J. Herstein at Dorf on Law, and Kenneth Jost at Jost on Justice, continue to dissect last week’s oral arguments, while Adam Liptak notes that the three-day argument revealed the two sides of the Roberts Court:an intellectual side at ease with legal issues of colossal complexity, and a pithy, conversational side that can frame issues in accessible nuggets.” At The Maddow Blog, Steve Benen analyzes the predictions made before last week’s arguments; at Slate, Eliot Spitzer lists several “factors that might yet transform glee into a moment of hubris” for those opposed to the Act.  And Jeffrey Toobin at the New Yorker discusses the larger implications of the case:the decision is a great deal more important than its immediate political aftermath. It’s about what the government can do, not just who runs it.”


  • The Student Printz reports that Justice Scalia will speak at the University of Southern Mississippi.
  • At this blog, Kevin Johnson analyzes the Court’s opinion in Vartelas v. Holder, in which the Court rejected the retroactive application of a 1996 amendment to the immigration laws.

Recommended Citation: Nabiha Syed, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 3, 2012, 9:32 AM),