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Monday round-up

End-of-Term overviews continue to pour in.  Adam Liptak discusses the Term in an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, in which he notes that, although political scientists will say that the just-ended Term was a “liberal Term for the ages,” all of that could change next Term.  In The National Law Journal (subscription or registration required), Marcia Coyle and Tony Mauro observe that several of the Court’s high-profile decisions “revealed deep divisions among the justices – not just between the left and right sides of the bench, but often within the Court’s conservative wing.”  Lawrence Hurley of Reuters looks at the Obama administration’s Term (with a graphic), describing it as one in which the administration “wins big and loses small.”   

Commentary comes from Linda Greenhouse in her column for The New York Times, in which she suggests that, a “week after the end of a remarkable court term, the message may be this:  It’s not the voters, but the Republican presidential candidates who should be afraid.” The editorial board of The New York Times weighs in as well, arguing that if the Term’s “liberal” decisions reflect a trend, “it is not a growing liberalism, but rather the failure of hard-line conservative activists trying to win in court what they have failed to achieve in legislation.”  In The Economist, Steven Mazie and John Prideaux look at the roles of the Court and Congress and conclude that, although the “pattern of Congress leaving the court to rule on social changes that Congress cannot rouse itself to address is troubling for American democracy,” it is also “hard to regret” if the alternative is no change at all.

Coverage of and commentary on the Court’s June 26 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage and the recognition thereof, continue.  At Fox 13 News, Ben Winslow reports that, although the decision “is most certainly expected to be cited as Utah appeals a decision overturning part of the state’s polygamy ban,” “its impact may not be as big as people would think.”  At the Berkley Center’s Cornerstone blog, Thomas Berg notes that questions relating to the impact of the decision on religious liberty “were not directly before the Court, so unsurprisingly it said relatively little about them.  What it did say was incomplete and inadequate but should not be taken as the last word.”

Commentary on last week’s decision in Glossip v. Gross, in which the Court rejected a challenge to Oklahoma’s use of a sedative normally used to treat anxiety as the first drug in its three-drug lethal injection cocktail, comes from Kenneth Jost, who at Jost on Justice describes Justice Stephen Breyer’s dissenting opinion – in which the Justice suggested that he and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg regarded the death penalty as unconstitutional – as a “genuine surprise.”  At the George Washington Law Review’s On the Docket, Phyllis Goldfarb cites the “animosity” in some of the Justices’ opinions in the case as evidence that an “adverse impact on the quality of the Court’s functioning is yet more collateral damage from our capital punishment system.”  And at Business Insider, Christina Sterbenz suggests that the decision “completely ignored a wave currently cresting itself across the US:  That capital punishment shouldn’t have a place in our justice system at all.”



  • Commentary on the Court’s decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, in which the Court held that the Fair Housing Act does allow a cause of action based on disparate impact, comes from Richard Rothstein, who in The American Prospect characterizes the decision as “a giant step forward.”
  • At ACSblog, Charlotte Garden discusses Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a challenge to compulsory fees for public-sector unions in which the Court granted cert. last week; she describes it as “one of next Term’s blockbusters.”
  • At the Human Rights at Home Blog, Margaret Drew describes Ohio v. Clark, in which the Court held that the use of statements made by a three-year-old boy to his teachers at the trial of the man accused of injuring him does not violate the Constitution, as important because it “enhances the ability of the state to protect children through prosecution of their abusers.”
  • In the Connecticut Law Tribune (subscription or registration required), Michelle Sullo reports on a recently filed petition involving a holdout juror.
  • In The Economist, Steven Mazie discusses Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, in which the Court rejected a challenge to Arizona’s use of an independent bipartisan commission to draw federal congressional districts.
  • On a lighter note, Mazie instructs readers on how to hurl insults back at Justice Antonin Scalia in his post at Big Think.

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Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Monday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jul. 6, 2015, 10:52 AM),