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Monday round-up

The Court returns this morning to issue one or more opinions in argued cases.  One of the most highly anticipated cases still outstanding is King v. Burwell, the challenge to the availability of subsidies for individuals who purchase their health insurance on an exchange created by the federal government.  In The New Republic, Simon Lazarus discusses the possibility that Justice Anthony Kennedy might “see the case more as an opportunity to advance his federalism ideology, than as a second shot at vindicating the Republican political priority of crippling Obamacare.”  At Mother Jones, Stephanie Mencimer suggests that it will be Chief Justice John Roberts who will vote to save the law, including because of the money at stake for businesses in the case.

Last week’s decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, in which the Court struck down a town’s sign code that imposed more stringent restrictions on signs which provided temporary directions to church services than other categories of signs, continues to garner coverage and commentary.  NPR’s Nina Totenberg covered the decision (along with the Court’s decision in Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, holding that Texas could reject a proposed design for a specialty license plate that included a Confederate battle flag), as did Shontee Pant for The Christian Science Monitor.  Commentary on the Reed case comes from Hadley Arkes, who at Library of Law and Liberty contends that the decision “revealed the unlovely spectacle of the conservatives talking themselves ever deeper into a genuine moral relativism in the regulation of speech”; from Travis Weber of the Family Research Council Blog, who describes the decision as a “Free Speech victory”; and from Alan Morrison, who discusses the decision at the George Washington Law Review’s On the Docket feature.

Coverage of Thursday’s decision in Walker comes from David Savage at the Los Angeles Times and Mark Walsh at Education Week’s School Law Blog, while Lisa Soronen summarizes the decision at the Knowledge Center.  At Balkinization, Nelson Tebbe contends that, although the “outcome was correct, the Court’s reasoning could spell trouble in the near future.”  Similarly, at ACSblog Erwin Chemerinsky expresses concern that “the government speech doctrine will make it too easy for the government to circumvent the First Amendment by claiming it was the speaker.”

David Savage of the Los Angeles Times reported on Justice Anthony Kennedy’s separate opinion regarding solitary confinement in Davis v. Ayala, in which the majority rejected a California man’s efforts to get a new trial.  Savage described the Kennedy opinion as the “rare instance of a Supreme Court justice virtually inviting a constitutional challenge to a prison policy.”  Kenneth Jost weighs in on the Kennedy opinion at Jost on Justice, contending that Kennedy “rightly suggests the courts as the most likely forum for stemming a cruel but not-so-unusual punishment.”


  • Mark Walsh covers last week’s decision in Brumfield v. Cain, in which a closely divided Court held that a defendant in a capital murder trial was entitled to an opportunity to demonstrate that he was intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for the death penalty, for Education Week’s School Law Blog.
  • At Slate, Brianne Gorod looks at some of the “other” cases – in addition to same-sex marriage and ACA subsidies – that are still pending at the Court and “incredibly consequential.”
  • At the Yale Law Journal’s online forum, Kathryn Kovacs discusses the Court’s decision in Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association, arguing that the “Court reached the right result, but its decision was flawed.”
  • At his Election Law Blog, Rick Hasen discusses the prospect that the Court will grant review in Renzi v. United States, involving a “meaty Speech or Debate clause” issue.
  • In the San Jose Mercury News, Howard Mintz reports on the wait in California for the decision in the challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage, and what the Court’s decision might mean for that state.

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Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Monday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 22, 2015, 5:25 AM),