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Thursday round-up

Yesterday the Court heard oral arguments first in McCullen v. Coakley, the challenge to a Massachusetts law that creates a thirty-five-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics in that state.  Lyle covered the argument for this blog; I covered it in Plain English.  Other coverage comes from NPR’s Nina Totenberg, Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal, and Richard Wolf of USA Today.  In commentary on the case at Dorf on Law, Mike Dorf discusses the oral argument and, in particular, the challengers’ focus on the “fact that the Massachusetts law limits speech on public sidewalks”; at Slate, Emily Bazelon describes the odds as “more than good that the buffer zone in Massachusetts is on its way out.”  And also at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick cites the case, along with Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus (granted last week) and the Little Sisters of the Poor case, as examples of “all the fascinating new ways that as a nation, we may be as divided about how we talk about abortion and contraception, as we are about abortion and contraception themselves.”  At The Atlantic, Garrett Epps interprets the lack of questions from Chief Justice John Roberts as a sign that “his mind is made up and nothing either lawyer could say Wednesday was going to change it. If that’s the case, then the Massachusetts law is doomed.”  Writing at Education Week’s School Law blog, Mark Walsh looks at the role that school protest cases could play in McCullen.  Other commentary comes from Ruthann Robson at the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, who discusses the “definitional disagreements” at the argument yesterday, and from Ed Mannino at his eponymous blog.

Yesterday’s second argument was in United States v. Castleman, in which the Court is considering whether Castleman’s conviction for misdemeanor “domestic assault” qualifies as a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” for purposes of federal gun laws.  I covered the oral argument for this blog; other coverage comes from Richard Wolf of USA Today and the Associated Press (via The Washington Post).  In commentary at Slate, Amy Barasch echoes the argument made by the United States yesterday, telling readers that, if the Court “agrees to narrow the definition of what ‘force’ means, more people will be shot by their partners, more law enforcement personnel will be hurt, and we may be less likely to stop future mass killings.”

Monday’s argument in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, the challenge to the constitutionality of the president’s recess appointments to the NLRB, continues to generate commentary.  In The New Republic, Simon Lazarus laments that “progressives do not seem to recognize the license an adverse decision [in the case] would provide to scale up this government-crippling agenda.”  And in The Atlantic, Garrett Epps predicts – based on the arguments made by Miguel Estrada, who represented Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – “the Court will simply hold—probably by a lopsided margin—that, in his words, ‘the Senate gets to decide whether the Senate is in recess.’”  At Forbes, Daniel Fisher observes that “[y]ou know it’s a bad day for the Obama administration when even the most liberal justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are taking potshots at presidential powers.”


  • At Forbes, Daniel Fisher covers Tuesday’s opinion in Daimler AG v. Bauman, in which the Court held that Daimler cannot be sued in California for injuries allegedly caused by its Argentine subsidiary in that country.
  • In The Salt Lake Tribune, Brooke Adams previews next week’s oral argument in Paroline v. United States, in which the Court will consider the issue of restitution for victims of child pornography.
  • At the Ogletree Deakins blog, Vicki Nielsen and Hera Arsen report on Tuesday’s oral argument in United States v. Quality Stores, in which the Court is considering whether severance payments made to employees who are laid off are taxable under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act.  (Bradley Joondeph reported on the argument for this blog.)
  • At the Maryland Appellate Blog, Steve Klepper covers yesterday’s opinion in Ray Haluch Gravel Co. v. Central Pension Fund.
  • In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Frederick Gedicks weighs in on the birth-control mandate cases, urging the Court to “ensure the liberty of all Americans by rejecting the efforts of for-profit businesses to impose their owners’ religion on employees.”
  • The editorial board of The Washington Times encourages the Court to grant cert. in Whirlpool Corp. v. Glazer and Sears, Roebuck and Co. v. Butler, the washing machine cases rescheduled for the Justices’ private Conference tomorrow, arguing that the cases “could determine the future of class-action litigation.”
  • At Verdict, Michael Dorf discusses the efforts by the Little Sisters of the Poor to seek an exemption from their obligation to provide their employees with health insurance that includes access to birth control, as well as the government’s response.

[Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the respondents in Bauman.]

Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Thursday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 16, 2014, 9:50 AM),