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Tuesday round-up

Today the Justices will hear oral arguments in two cases.  In Heffernan v. City of Paterson, they will consider whether the First Amendment prohibits the government from demoting an employee based on a supervisor’s perception that the employee supports a political candidate.  Howard Wasserman previewed the case for this blog, while Mark Denton and Jessica Kim do the same for Cornell’s Legal Information Institute.

In the second case today, Americold Realty Trust v. ConAgra Foods, the Justices will consider the citizenship of trusts for purposes of diversity jurisdiction.  Ronald Mann previewed the case for this blog, and Tyler Vandeventer and Jason Ottomano did the same for Cornell’s Legal Information Institute

On Friday afternoon the Justices issued orders from their January 15 Conference.  Lyle Denniston covered those orders for this blog.  Among other things, the Justices did not act on the challenge to the Obama administration’s immigration policy; Lawrence Hurley covered Friday’s developments (or lack thereof) for Reuters.  The Court did, however, add eight new cases to its merits docket.  In Encino Motorcars v. Navarro, the Justices will consider whether “service advisers” at car dealerships are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime-pay requirements.  In the Federal Regulations Advisor, Leland Beck suggests that the “case may be important for non-obvious reasons” (and also discusses the non-action on immigration).  And at the Ross Runkel Report, Runkel observes that the case “could have great importance because a decision hinges on whether or not a court must defer to a Department of Labor’s statutory interpretation.”

At Education Week, Mark Walsh describes the grant in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley, the challenge by a church nursery school that was denied recycled rubber for its playground because of a Missouri law that prohibits public funds for religious programs, as one “that could hold major implications for government aid to religious schools.”  Ruthann Robson weighs in on the grant at Constitutional Law Prof Blog.

The Court will also review the case of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, who was convicted on federal corruption charges; in her column for The Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin discusses the grant and why other politicians should root for McDonnell.

Last week the Court issued its opinion in Hurst v. Florida, striking down Florida’s capital-sentencing scheme.  At The George Washington Law Review’s On the Docket, Robin Maher contends that, “unless Mr. Hurst and others like him receive new sentencing hearings, it is likely that the constitutional right so clearly articulated again in Hurst will sink without a trace beneath the doctrines of non-retroactivity and harmless error.”  And at casetext, Sam Kamin suggests that, although “the outcome in Hurst was never really in doubt, there are at least two big questions in its wake.  First, what, exactly must a jury (rather than a judge) now decide in a capital case; and second, what are the consequences now for Hurst and every other defendant sentenced under a death penalty scheme that the Court has finally announced is unconstitutional?”

There is still more commentary on last week’s oral arguments in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association.  In an op-ed for The Atlantic, Charlotte Garden argues that, “if the Court strikes down agency fees, it is not just unions that will be harmed – governments and citizens who rely on public services will be as well.”  And at Jost on Justice, Kenneth Jost contends that, among “the 200-plus reversals of precedents in the court’s history, this one will rank low in legal logic and high in pure political muscle-flexing.”


  • At the Human Rights at Home Blog, Martha Davis looks at the first wave of briefs filed in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, the Texas abortion case, and argues that the “petitioners’ briefs and the 45 amicus submissions make clear how much is at stake for women, and what women will lose if the Supreme Court stands aside as the right to have an abortion is further compromised and eroded.”
  • At his eponymous blog, John Q. Barrett considers what the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist would have thought of his former clerk, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

[Disclosure:  Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the respondents in Heffernan v. City of Paterson.  However, I am not affiliated with the firm.]

If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, or op-ed relating to the Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at]


Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jan. 19, 2016, 5:32 AM),