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Tuesday round-up

Yesterday the Court returned from a short recess for the April sitting.  It heard oral arguments for the second time in Johnson v. United States, in which it had asked the parties to brief the additional question whether the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act is unconstitutionally vague.  Jess Bravin covered that argument for The Wall Street Journal, with commentary coming from Richard Re and Carissa Hessick at PrawfsBlawg.  Leah Litman discusses the case at the Columbia Law Review’s Sidebar, while at ISCOTUSnow Edward Lee predicts the winner of the oral argument based on the number of questions for each side.

The Court also issued orders from its April 17 Conference yesterday, and Lyle Denniston covered them for this blog.  Among other things, as Jess Bravin reports for The Wall Street Journal, the Court “revived a challenge to North Carolina’s election map, which civil rights groups complain illegally concentrates black voters in a handful of districts.”  Other coverage comes from Colleen Jenkins of Yahoo! News, while Rick Hasen has commentary at his Election Law Blog.  In the Supreme Court Brief (subscription required), Tony Mauro reports that the Court also “put an end to litigation against Chiquita Brands International that sought damages for its role in funding a U.S.-designated terrorist group accused of killing more than 4,000 people in Colombia.”  And in the Arizona Daily Star, Howard Fischer reports that the Court turned down a request by an Arizona spa owner “to void a ruling by the Arizona Board of Cosmetology that she cannot offer to have fish nibble at the feet of her customers.”

The oral arguments in the challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage are now just one week away.  At NPR, Nina Totenberg profiles the “accidental activists” challenging the bans, while in the Supreme Court Brief (subscription required) Tony Mauro reports that groups supporting the states have urged Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse herself from the case based on her comments in a February interview.  In The Washington Post, Robert Barnes has the story of two men who were married in 1975 and then brought “the first case asking a federal court to recognize a same-sex marriage” — in which the “judge who wrote the final word on whether [the pair] could stay together in the United States or be forced to strike out in search of a country that would take them was Anthony M. Kennedy, then a circuit judge and now the Supreme Court’s pivotal justice on gay rights.”  Commentary on the same-sex marriage cases comes from John Eastman, who at Public Discourse argues that “an overwhelming majority of Americans have, over the past decade, voted to retain the longstanding, biologically rooted understanding of the institution of marriage”; from Lynn Wardle (and others), who at Public Discourse argues that “[t]here is no ‘emerging global consensus’ for same-sex marriage”; and from Gene Schaerr, who contends in the Daily Signal that “allowing same-sex couples to claim the status and benefits of marriage may lead to worse outcomes for the children in such families than if the couple did not marry.”


  • At Hamilton and Griffin on Rights, Leslie Griffin criticizes the decision by Justice Samuel Alito to stay a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which had ruled against Catholic officials seeking an exemption from the requirement that they fill out a form to indicate that they will not be providing their employees with contraceptive coverage.
  • In a podcast at Slate, Adam Liptak and Eric Segall discuss whether “the justices are just as motivated by political and psychological concerns as they are by legal doctrine and case law” with Dahlia Lithwick.

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Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 21, 2015, 7:54 AM),