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Tuesday round-up

Coverage continues of pre-election challenges to various state voting law restrictions. In The Washington Post, Robert Barnes reports that a “coalition of civil rights groups, Democratic lawyers and the Obama administration has scored significant victories in overturning strict voting laws, highlighting how the death of Justice Antonin Scalia has removed the Supreme Court as a crucial conservative backstop for such measures.” Commentary comes from Rick Hasen, who at his Election Law Blog discusses Michigan’s request for emergency relief from a district court ruling holding that Michigan’s attempt to eliminate straight-ticket voting violates the Voting Rights Act. And at The Economist, Steven Mazie observes that “asking for 11th-hour emergency stays from a Supreme Court that is split down the middle on the legality and constitutionality of voting restrictions carries a whiff of desperation.”

In remarks last week, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan discussed the current and future composition of the Court. Coverage comes from Adam Liptak of The New York Times, who reports that although both Justices “steered clear of commenting directly on the stalled nomination of his third choice, Judge Merrick B. Garland,” they “did talk about how a new colleague could reinforce or disrupt a court that is in some ways exceptionally homogeneous.” In The Washington Post, Robert Barnes notes that, according to Justice Sotomayor, “the court is simply not engineered to mirror a changing America.” And, according to Curt Prendergast of The Arizona Daily Star, Justice Kagan told a University of Arizona audience that “the political pressure facing President Obama’s stalled high-court nominee doesn’t spill over onto sitting justices” and that “most demographic, geographic, and educational characteristics do not play an important role in each justice’s decision making.”


  • For The Associated Press, Jessica Gresko reports that the location of Justice Scalia’s grave, kept private at the request of his family, “has become public with the help of a website.”
  • Robert Barnes reports in The Washington Post that the U.S. Attorney’s office that prosecuted former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell “has recommended to Justice Department higher-ups that they endeavor to try him again.”
  • In The Economist, Steven Mazie argues that the Zika virus may trigger renewed debate about the Roe v. Wade framework for evaluating the constitutionality of restrictions on abortion. “If early abortions increase as Zika infections rise,” he suggests, “the culprit may be states’ heavy restrictions on late-term abortions—and the 1973 Supreme Court case that enabled them.”
  • The editorial board of The Baltimore Sun remarks that, given Senate Republicans’ firm position that the next president should nominate Scalia’s successor, confirmation of Judge Merrick Garland by a lame-duck Senate would constitute “jaw-dropping hypocrisy.”
  • In The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg reports on a controversy in Frederick, Maryland, about the potential removal or relocation from the City Hall courtyard of a bust of Roger Taney, author of the notorious Dred Scott.
  • Commentary on the new Supreme Court Term comes from Ken Jost, who at Jost on Justice suggests that “the court is taking unusual steps to delay cases viewed as likely to produce inconclusive 4-4 deadlocks between the evenly balanced conservative and liberal blocs.”
  • The Heritage Foundation has published a special report on the lasting influence of Justice Antonin Scalia’s jurisprudence, particularly on criminal law, separation of powers, and religion.

Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Sep. 6, 2016, 12:26 PM),