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Thursday round-up

Yesterday the Court issued opinions in two argued cases.  In T-Mobile South v. City of Roswell, it held that a federal law providing that a local government’s denial of an application to build a cell phone tower “shall be in writing and supported by substantial evidence” requires the locality to provide such reasons in writing.  Coverage of that decision comes from Jess Bravin of The Wall Street Journal, Michael Bobelian of Forbes, and Taylor Gillan of JURIST.

In its second decision, in Jennings v. Stephens, the Court held that a prisoner who sought federal habeas relief based on three theories and prevailed in the district court on two of them does not have to file a cross-appeal or seek a certificate of appealability on the third theory to rely on it as part of his defense against the state’s appeal.  Coverage of the decision comes from Julie Deisher-Edwards of JURIST, with commentary from Kent Scheidegger at Crime and Consequences.

The Court heard oral arguments yesterday in the immigration case Mellouli v. Holder.  Coverage of that oral argument comes from Nina Totenberg of NPR, who reports that the “question before the justices boiled down to whether a sock can be considered drug paraphernalia,” while Julie Deisher-Edwards of JURIST briefly covers both of yesterday’s arguments.  At ISCOTUSnow, Edward Lee predicts the winners of yesterday’s oral arguments based on the number of questions from the Justices for each side.  And in a second post at Crime and Consequences, Kent Scheidegger observes that, although Lee’s methodology provides “a strong correlation as these things go,” yesterday’s decision in Jennings demonstrates that “correlation is not certainty.”

On Friday the Court is again scheduled to consider the petitions challenging bans on same-sex marriage in Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky.  At BuzzFeed, Chris Geidner has a guide to the cases, while in an essay at the Michigan Journal of Law Reform’s online edition Carl Tobias urges the Court to “clarify marriage equality by reviewing” the Sixth Circuit’s decision upholding those bans this Term.


  • At Crime and Consequences, Kent Scheidgger weighs in on Whitfield v. United States, in which the Court held that the federal bank robbery statute’s “forced accompaniment” provision applies whenever a bank robber forces someone to go somewhere with him, even for a short distance.
  • In Slate, David Fontana observes that, although Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan “share similarities when it comes to the substance of their constitutional liberalism, [they] have proved quite different in their styles.”
  • At the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Liberty Blog, Wen Fa looks ahead to next week’s oral argument in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, in which the Court will consider whether the Fair Housing Act allows lawsuits based on disparate impact, and concludes that the Court “can align the Fair Housing Act with constitutional notions of equal protection if it holds that Congress did not intend to impose disparate impact liability when it enacted the FHA.”
  • In The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin and Melanie Trottman cover Tuesday’s oral arguments in Mach Mining v. EEOC, reporting that although the Court “appeared ready Tuesday to favor business in a dispute about whether courts can review how the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handles discrimination complaints before it files suit against an employer,” “the justices were unlikely to allow as extensive a review of the commission’s mediation process as many employers want.”

 [Disclosure:  Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the petitioner in Mach Mining.  However, I am not affiliated with the firm.]

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Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Thursday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 15, 2015, 6:57 AM),