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Friday round-up

On Wednesday the Court heard oral arguments in the challenge by former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell to his fraud convictions.  Commentary comes from Steven Mazie of The Economist, who suggests that a ruling reversing McDonnell’s “conviction or ordering a new trial with sharply constrained jury guidelines would be, more than anything, a pragmatic bow to the way politics in America functions”; Kenneth Jost of Jost on Justice, who contends that “a broadly written decision to throw out the convictions will hamper future public corruption prosecutions and make the practice of ‘pay for play’ all the more common than it already is: mostly legal if done with a wink and a nod”; Noah Bookbinder and Nancy Gertner in a podcast for the National Constitution Center; and Kenneth Gross and Jeffrey Bellin in a podcast with Bloomberg Law’s June Grasso. And in The National Law Journal (subscription or registration required), Tony Mauro reports that, on the same day as the argument, three Justices “praised deputy U.S. solicitor general Michael Dreeben” – who argued on behalf of the United States in the case – at a reception hosted by Georgetown’s Supreme Court Institute.

Coverage and commentary related to the nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia continue.  In The Wall Street Journal, Jacob Gershman and Jess Bravin report that the “renaming of George Mason University’s law school after Justice Antonin Scalia has erupted into a tense confrontation within its faculty: between professors embracing the move and scholars outside the law school offended by the association with the high court’s most influential conservative.”  Mark Dorning and Tim Higgins of Bloomberg Politics report that a “media blitz by the White House and its allies has failed to crack Republican opposition to President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, and it is all but certain the seat will remain vacant until after U.S. elections in November.”  In The Huffington Post, Jennifer Bendery reports that Senator Charles Grassley, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has indicated that it would be “a gamble” to allow Donald Trump to nominate Scalia’s successor.   And Patrick Gregory of Bloomberg BNA profiles Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who is often mentioned as a potential nominee in a Republican administration

Commentary on the nomination battle comes from Nan Aron, who in The Huffington Post argues that, if “Republicans are concerned about the consequences of putting Merrick Garland on the Court, they should hold hearings, ask him questions, assess his record and life story, listen to what he has to say, and vote their conscience on the floor of the Senate in full view of the American people.” And in The Wall Street Journal, Theodore Olson proposes a solution to the deadlock:  “a pact . . . among responsible Republican and Democratic leaders to give well-qualified Supreme Court nominees of either party a hearing and a vote within 120-180 days of a nomination,” which could create “a path toward restoring an atmosphere of respect and civility to this process—and to prospective Supreme Court justices.”


  • Yesterday the Constitutional Accountability Center hosted its annual “Home Stretch” look at the Court’s Term, featuring John Elwood, Brianne Gorod, Sherrilyn Ifill, and Andy Pincus (with yours truly as the moderator); video of the event is available on the center’s website.
  • In The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse looks back at last week’s oral arguments in United States v. Texas, the challenge to the Obama administration’s deferred-action policy for some undocumented immigrants, and suggests that “the case stands or falls on whether the Court concludes that” the policy “changed the law.”
  • At the Stanford Review Online, Matthew Christiansen looks back at the Court’s recent decision in FERC v. Electric Power Supply Agency and suggests that, although the ruling may “ultimately rank among the most significant energy law cases of all time,” it “is also notable for another reason—one that has so far gone largely unnoticed, but might ultimately prove every bit as significant for the laws governing how electricity is produced and consumed.”

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Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Friday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 29, 2016, 8:10 AM),