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Wednesday round-up

Today the Court will hear oral arguments in (among others) Young v. United Parcel Service, in which a Virginia woman alleges that the shipping company violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act when it failed to give her “light duty” during her pregnancy.  Lyle Denniston previewed the case for this blog, with other coverage coming from Nina Totenberg of NPR.  In a post at ACSblog, Emily Martin argues that the case “will be an important test of whether a majority of the Supreme Court continues to have a “blind spot” where women’s issues are concerned.”

Yesterday the Court heard oral arguments in Whitfield v. United States, a North Carolina man’s challenge to his conviction under a provision of the federal bank robbery statute that imposes a minimum sentence of ten years when the defendant forces another person to accompany him in connection with the robbery.  I covered the oral argument for this blog, while Noah Feldman also discussed the case in his column for Bloomberg View, suggesting that the case “may be a prime opportunity for Justice Antonin Scalia to apply an escape hatch for the use of literal interpretation where the law is criminal and the penalties severe.” And at ISCOTUSnow, Edward Lee predicts the winners in both Whitfield and yesterday’s other case, B&B Hardware v. Hargis Industries, based on the number of questions at oral argument.

Commentary on Monday’s oral argument in Elonis v. United States, the Facebook threats case, continues.  In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Lisa McElroy argues that, “[t]o the extent that the definition of “threat” and the relevant party’s viewpoint about the existence of a threat are still unclear, the events of the last two weeks — both those at the Supreme Court in Washington and those in the grand jury proceedings in Ferguson — should shine light on that issue.”  Steven Mazie summarizes the issues before the Court in his post at The Economist’s Democracy in America blog; he observes that, “as nasty as Mr Elonis’s Facebook posts may have been, the question is what happens in future cases when the government seeks to punish people for venting or trying their hand at some gangsta rap on their Facebook pages.”  And Kent Scheidegger discusses the issues in the case in a podcast for the Federalist Society.

In The National Law Journal’s Supreme Court Brief, Tony Mauro reports that the “long-running debate over camera access to the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts will take a new turn” today “at a hearing scheduled before a House Judiciary subcommittee.”  C-SPAN will provide live coverage of the hearing at 10 a.m. this morning.


  • In The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin reports that Justice Antonin Scalia “is being portrayed in works that draw on his words and legacy as the longest-serving sitting justice and one of the court’s most polarizing figures.”
  • At Re’s Judicata, Richard Re argues that, if the Court were once again to grant review in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the challenge to the school’s use of race in its undergraduate admissions policy, “there are still good reasons not to treat” the case as having set a precedent on jurisdiction, “even assuming that a majority silently found jurisdiction.”
  • In an op-ed for The Washington Times, Brent Bozell, Richard Viguerie, and Pat Nolan weigh in on the case of Texas death row inmate Scott Panetti, whose execution is scheduled for today. They contend that, because Panetti “is one of the most seriously mentally ill prisoners on death row in the United States,” his execution “would only serve to undermine the public’s faith in a fair and moral justice system.”
  • At Cities Speak, Lisa Soronen discusses last week’s cert. grant in City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan, in which the Court will consider whether a police officer’s arresting powers are limited by the Americans with Disabilities Act when he attempts to subdue an individual with a mental disability.
  • At The Washington Post’s Plum Line, Greg Sargent reports on recent remarks by Senator Mitch McConnell in which he characterizes the legal challenge to the availability of tax subsidies under the Affordable Care Act as “a substitute means through which an end — repeal — will be accomplished that Republicans failed to accomplish through the political and legislative process.”
  • Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services (via the East Valley Tribune) reports on Monday’s denial of cert. in Ryan v. Hurles, the oft-relisted case of an Arizona death row inmate.
  • Fischer also reports (via the Arizona Capitol Times) on plans by outgoing Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to file a cert. petition seeking review of a decision by the Ninth Circuit ordering the state to issue driver’s licenses to “dreamers” – undocumented young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Dec. 3, 2014, 7:57 AM),