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Tuesday round-up

The pace is picking up at the Court, where yesterday the Justices issued three opinions in argued cases, along with orders from their June 12 Conference.  In Abramski v. United States, a divided Court – in an opinion by Justice Elena Kagan – upheld a Virginia man’s federal conviction for falsely stating that he was the actual buyer of a handgun, when he was in fact purchasing the gun for his uncle.  Lyle Denniston covered the decision for this blog; other coverage comes from NPR’s Nina Totenberg, Bill Mears of CNN, Jaclyn Belczyk of JURIST, and Robert Barnes of The Washington Post.

In Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, a unanimous Court – in an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas – held that a group which has been accused of violating a state law prohibiting false statements during a political campaign and that is at risk of being accused again can challenge the constitutionality of that law in court.  Coverage of the decision came from this blog’s Lyle Denniston, Bill Mears of CNN, and William Hibbitts of JURIST.  Commentary on the case comes from Ruthann Robson at Constitutional Law Prof Blog, who writes that the Court’s “relatively short and unanimous opinion breaks no new ground”; from Garrett Epps of The Atlantic, who predicts that both the Ohio law at issue in the case and other similar laws will “go down in the next few years”; from Lisa Soronen at the blog of the National Conference of State Legislatures, who observes that the case “should be of more interest to first year law students than state legislators”; from Richard Re at Re’s Judicata, who “explore[s] the possibility that [the decision] foretells future changes in ripeness doctrine”; from Howard Wasserman at PrawfsBlawg, who notes that the Court’s decision “spoke about all preenforcement challenges generally,” which “arguably could change lower-court analysis of challenges to, for example, some abortion regulations”; and from Allen Dickerson of the Center for Competitive Politics, who praises the decision and attributes it to the fact that “[t]he nine justices . . . all want to ensure that states do not limit fundamental rights and then functionally shut the door on judicial review of the offending laws.”

Yesterday’s order list also drew significant attention.  The Court added two new arguments to its merits docket for the fall:  Elonis v. United States and Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association and Nickols v. Mortgage Bankers Association, with the latter two consolidated for oral argument.  Lyle Denniston covered the order list for this blog.

Coverage of Elonis, in which the Court will consider whether and when federal law criminalizes threats made on social media such as Facebook, comes from Mark Walsh of Education Week, Bill Mears of CNN, Richard Wolf of USA Today, and Robert Barnes of The Washington Post (who also notes the denial in Elmbrook School District v. Doe, discussed below).  Commentary on that grant comes from Ruthann Robson at Constitutional Law Prof Blog, who suggests that the case “will be watched not only by those interested in ‘free speech on the internet’ but also by those interested in ‘intimate partner violence.’”

Coverage of Perez and Nickols, in which the Court will consider whether agencies can revise their interpretative rules without notice-and-comment rulemaking. comes from Leland Beck at Federal Regulations Advisor.  Coverage of both grants comes from Jaclyn Belczyk of JURIST,

There were also several noteworthy denials of review.  Coverage of the denial of cert. in Elmbrook School District v. Doe, in which the Court let stand a lower court ruling that the Constitution prohibits a public school from holding its graduation ceremony in a large church, comes from Mark Walsh of Education Week and Bill Mears of CNN.  At Hamilton and Griffin on Rights, Leslie Griffin contends that Justice Scalia’s dissent from the denial of review in the case “was not really about” the Court’s recent decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway; instead, it was just another replay of his dissenting opinion in the Court’s last high school graduation case,” Lee v. Weisman.

Yesterday was not a good day for Argentina at the Supreme Court, with the Court denying review in two cases seeking review of a lower court’s ruling that the country must pay holders of defaulted bonds who refused to accept reduced payments whenever it makes payments to bondholders who agreed to have the debts owed to them restructured; the Court also ruled, in Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital, that a group of bondholders can have access to bank records to locate overseas assets belonging to the country that could be used to satisfy the country’s debts.  Coverage of both developments comes from Lyle Denniston of this blog, Jaclyn Belczyk of JURIST (who does the same), and Adam Liptak of The New York Times.  Noah Feldman weighs in on the Argentine cases in his column for Bloomberg View, where he contends that “[t]he court’s refusal to hear Argentina’s appeal in the underlying bond case is legally surprising, financially worrisome, and internationally questionable.”  And at Lawfare, Ingrid Wuerth discusses the significance of the Court’s decision on the merits yesterday, writing (among other things) that “it is consistent with what appears to be a trend away from foreign affairs exceptionalism and deference to the Executive Branch in foreign relations cases.”


  • In an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun, Amanda Frost discusses last week’s decision in the immigration case Scialabba v. Cuellar de Osorio, arguing that “the real problem is that there are too few visas for eligible applicants — a problem only Congress can solve.”
  • In The National Law Journal, Tony Mauro examines an issue on which the Justices are “profoundly divided”:  how to pronounce the word “certiorari.”
  • At Hamilton and Griffin on Rights, Marci Hamilton looks ahead to the Court’s upcoming decision in the challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s birth-control mandate in light of a recent EEOC complaint alleging religious discrimination by two for-profit companies.

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Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 17, 2014, 8:33 AM),