Yesterday the Court issued orders from its April 1 Conference, adding one new case to its merits docket for next fall and summarily reversing in a state-on-top habeas case. Coverage of the order list generally comes from Lyle Denniston for this blog. In Supreme Court Brief (subscription required), Tony Mauro focuses on the Court’s grant of review in Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado, as does Mark Sherman of the Associated Press. At Forbes, Daniel Fisher reports on the denials in a trio of class-action cases, observing that the rejections may reflect “the new reality of a 4-4 split between conservatives and liberals.” And at Crime and Consequences, Kent Scheidegger weighs in on the summary reversal in Woods v. Etherton, arguing that it is “cases like these that demonstrate why the ‘deference standard’ of 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d) was needed.” Finally, at Reuters, Lawrence Hurley reports more generally that the Court “is accepting fewer cases and seeking compromises as it tries to avoid being hamstrung by 4-4 deadlocks on such contentious issues as abortion, birth control and immigration.”
For this blog, Molly Runkle rounded up early coverage of and commentary on yesterday’s decision in Evenwel v. Abbott, holding that states and local governments may use total population to draw legislative districts. Other coverage comes from NPR’s Nina Totenberg, with stories here and here; Danielle Blevins of Talk Media News; Tony Mauro of The National Law Journal (subscription or registration may be required); and Michael Bobelian at Forbes;
Commentary on the Evenwel ruling comes from Alan Morrison at The George Washington Law Review’s On the Docket, who notes that yesterday’s decision will not “ameliorate gerrymandering, but the opposite result would likely have increased its use”; Ilya Shapiro, who in an op-ed for USA Today contends that the Court “treaded water” with the decision; Nathaniel Persily, who at Stanford Lawyer’s Legal Aggregate characterizes the case as “most notable as a bullet that was dodged”; Garrett Epps, who in his column for The Atlantic contends that, with the ruling, “the Court unanimously rejected an advocacy group’s invitation to throw American politics into turmoil”; and Bernard Grofman, who at casetext asserts that the unanimous result in the case “does not mean that we have seen the last of the issue of ‘apportionment basis,’”
With the new week, there is still more coverage of the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia. At Politico, Seung Min Kim and Burgess Everett report that “the tug-of-war shows no sign of abating: Democrats plan to ramp up pressure through a series of messaging events and one-on-one meetings designed to keep Garland and obstinate Republicans in the headlines.” In The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis reports that the “all-out Democratic advocacy blitz during the two-week recess ending Monday has produced no discernible impact in the arena that really matters: the Senate Republican caucus.” In The New York Times, Michael Shear reports on a “deliberate White House strategy to ignore the fact that Republicans have refused to even consider” Garland’s nomination.” In The Washington Post, Amber Phillips reports on the change of heart by Republican Senator Jerry Moran, “who went from indicating Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland should get a hearing to stating flatly that he shouldn’t.” Elsewhere in the Post, James Hohmann reports that Republican senators have left open the possibility of “a vote to confirm Merrick Garland during the lame-duck session.”
Commentary comes from David Cole, who in an op-ed for The Washington Post suggests that, in the most important sense, the impetus for change comes from us, not from the men and women who serve as justices of the Supreme Court”; and law student Sadie Weller, who at ImmigrationProf Blog reviews Garland’s criminal justice and Guantanamo opinions.
Commentary on Zubik v. Burwell, the challenge to the accommodation offered to religious non-profits that object to the Affordable Care Act’s birth-control mandate, comes from Garrett Epps, who in his column for The Atlantic surveys the “strange career of free exercise” of religion; and Edward Zelinsky, who at OUPblog argues that “[a]ny religious employer objecting to contraception should have the right to instead fund an independently-administered health savings account (HSA) or health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) for each of its employees.”
- At Liberty Blog, Jonathan Wood looks back at last week’s oral argument in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co. and the suggestion by Justice Anthony Kennedy that the Clean Water Act is unconstitutionally vague.
- The editorial board of The New York Times urges the Court to grant review in the case of a Texas inmate who was sentenced to death after his attorney called to the stand “a psychologist who testified that race is one of the factors associated with future dangerousness.”
- At Empirical SCOTUS, Adam Feldman updates his earlier post on a shift in oral arguments since the death of Justice Scalia, to account for “another metric – the average number of sentences a Justice uses in a turn (“turn” referring to a segment of uninterrupted speech).”
- At casetext, Benjamin Levin notes that last week’s four-four affirmance in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association “marks the second time in the past three years that a major labor law case has arrived at the Court looking like it might blow up the labor movement, but has turned out to be a dud.”
[Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel on amicus briefs filed in support of the respondents in Friedrichs and Zubik. However, I am not affiliated with the firm.]