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Tuesday round-up

Today the Court will hear oral arguments in two cases. In Sekhar v. United States, the Court will consider whether a lawyer’s legal advice can be treated as property that is the subject of an extortion attempt under the Hobbs Act. Lyle Denniston previews the case for this blog. The Court will also hear Tarrant Regional Water District v. Herrmann, in which it will consider whether residents in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas can tap into water resources located in Oklahoma to meet their water needs. Thomas Merrill previewed the case last week for this blog. Other coverage of the case comes from Tim Talley of the Associated Press (via Denver Post). [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys work for or contribute to this blog in various capacities, represents the City of Dallas as an amicus in this case.]

Yesterday the Court heard oral arguments in two cases. In U.S. Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society, International the Court is considering whether a law that requires an organization to have a policy of explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking to receive federal funding to provide HIV and AIDS programs overseas violates the First Amendment. At this blog, Lyle Denniston reports on the argument and concludes that “[t]he overall tone reflected the uncertainty that hovers over the Court’s difficulty over the years in sorting out when government can attach conditions to its grants of money.” Other coverage comes from NPR’s Nina Totenberg, Greg Stohr of Bloomberg, Adam Liptak of The New York Times, Lawrence Hurley of Reuters, Mark Sherman of the Associated Press, Cheryl Wetzstein of The Washington Times, and USA Today’s Richard Wolf. The editorial board of The New York Times weighs in on the case, arguing that the government’s policy clearly violates the First Amendment “by requiring [grantees] to speak and advocate the government’s position, without the option of staying silent.” At the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, Ruthann Robson also reports on the oral arguments.

The Court also heard oral arguments in Hillman v. Maretta, in which it considered whether federal law preempts state laws permitting the widow of a deceased federal employee to sue that employee’s former spouse to recover life insurance proceeds. In an argument recap for this blog, Tejinder Singh observes that the argument boiled down to a dispute over the federal law’s purpose, and because its purpose is unclear, “the advocates faced the challenge of trying to square a circle to the Justices’ satisfaction – and the Justices were not easily satisfied.”

As Lyle Denniston reports at this blog, the Court released orders from its April 19 Conference. The Court agreed to hear DaimlerChrysler AG v. Bauman, in which it will consider whether a court may constitutionally exercise general personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation based solely on the fact that an indirect corporate subsidiary performs services on behalf of the defendant in the forum state. The case involves a suit brought under the Alien Tort Statute, which the Court held last week in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum does not generally apply to conduct that occurs in another country. At this blog, Lyle Denniston observes that “[o]ne reason why the Justices accepted the DaimlerChrysler case could have been to say something further on what kind of a U.S. connection is sufficient to support an ATS claim in a U.S. federal court.” Other coverage comes from Greg Stohr of Bloomberg and Trey Childress at [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys work for or contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the respondents in this case.]

The Court also vacated the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Rio Tinto PLC v. Sarei, which had allowed a case brought under the Alien Tort Statute against foreign companies to move forward, and ordered the court to reconsider the case in light of its decision in Kiobel. Coverage comes from Greg Stohr of Bloomberg and Brent Kendall of Dow Jones Newswires (via Fox News).

Other coverage focused on cases in which the Court denied review.  Greg Stohr of Bloomberg reports on the Court’s denial of cert. in American Snuff Co. v. United States, a challenge brought by the tobacco industry to a federal law imposing sharp restrictions on how cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are marketed. Jesse Holland of the Associated Press reports on the Court’s denial of review in United States v. Beer, a long-running dispute over Congress’s denial of cost-of-living increases to federal judges during the 1990s.  And Mark Walsh of the ABA Journal reports that the Court denied certiorari in Caviezel v. Great Neck Public Schools, a case involving a religious objection to mandatory school vaccinations.


  • At, Walter Olson discusses last week’s oral arguments in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, the Indian adoption case, and notes that lurking beneath the surface in the case is an issue as to the constitutionality of the statute in “handing out rights in domestic relations conflicts based on race, lineage, and other grounds that are ordinarily forbidden under our Constitution.”
  • Matthew Tresaugue of the Houston Chronicle reports on a cert. petition filed last Friday by a Texas-led coalition of energy producing states challenging EPA regulations of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • At Jost on Justice, Kenneth Jost pays tribute to Anthony Lewis, who died last month at the age of eighty-five.

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Recommended Citation: Sarah Erickson-Muschko, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 23, 2013, 9:42 AM),