on Oct 25, 2013 at 10:13 am
At The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen discusses this week’s grant in Hall v. Florida, in which the Court will consider the constitutionality of Florida’s scheme for identifying defendants who are intellectually disabled and therefore cannot be executed. “[D]epending upon how the justices vote,” he contends, the case “could be the first step toward an important new constitutional standard for mentally disabled defendants in capital cases. The justices have an opportunity here to establish a universal benchmark that no state may avoid under the banner of federalism or the Tenth Amendment. They also have a chance to put some mettle into their existing precedent.”
At NPR, Nina Totenberg reports on recent changes to the Justice Department’s policy on disclosing to criminal defendants when their communications were picked up through warrantless wiretaps. The change came in the wake of last Term’s oral argument in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, during which Solicitor General Don Verrilli assured the Court that, although the human rights groups in the case lacked standing to challenge warrantless wiretapping because they could not show that the government was monitoring their communications, the government would notify an individual whose communications were in fact being monitored if it intended to use information gleaned from that monitoring at trial; that person, Verrilli told the Court, would have standing to challenge the wiretapping. However, Verrilli later learned that, in two recent terrorism cases, prosecutors had not made those disclosures.
At this blog, Lyle Denniston reports on a new cert. petition filed by Arizona, seeking review of a Ninth Circuit decision invalidating a state law that bans abortions after the twentieth week of pregnancy.