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Tuesday round-up

Yesterday the court added one case to its docket for next term, granting certiorari in SAS Institute Inc. v. Lee, which involves “inter partes” review of patents before the Patent Trial and Appeals Board. Amy Howe covers yesterday’s order list for this blog. At LawNewz, Ronn Blitzer reports that the order list contained a summary affirmance of a lower court ruling that rejected a First Amendment challenge by the Louisiana GOP to a limits on the use of “soft money” by political parties for “federal election activity.” David Savage covers the ruling for the Los Angeles Times, noting that “[s]upporters of the campaign funding laws praised the court for holding the line.” At the Election Law Blog, Rick Hasen suggests that the ruling may indicate that “the Court has really no appetite to get back into this area right now—perhaps they want to save their capital in ruling on other high profile cases coming down the line.” At ThinkProgress, Ian Millhiser observes that new Justice Neil Gorsuch, along with Justice Clarence Thomas, “voted to give the case a full hearing — a strong indicator that Gorsuch is inclined to strike down the soft money law” and “that he may share Thomas’ extraordinarily restrictive view of the government’s power to keep money out of politics.”

The court also issued opinions yesterday in three argued cases. In Cooper v. Harris, the justices upheld a lower court decision finding that in drawing the boundaries of two congressional districts, North Carolina relied too heavily on race. Amy Howe analyzes the opinion for this blog. Additional coverage comes from Ariane de Vogue at CNN, who reports that “the ruling sends the North Carolina legislature back to the drawing board — with significant potential implications for the 2018 midterm elections”; David Savage in the Los Angeles Times, who notes that the “ruling is the third in recent years to fault Southern Republicans for packing more black voters into districts where African Americans were already the dominant voting bloc”; Nina Totenberg at NPR; Robert Barnes in The Washington Post; Lawrence Hurley at Reuters; Richard Wolf at USA Today; Lydia Wheeler at The Hill; Adam Liptak at The New York Times; Greg Stohr at Bloomberg; Cristian Farias at The Huffington Post; Scott Bland and Elena Schneider at Politico; Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed; Lyle Denniston at his eponymous blog; and Vann Newkirk II in The Atlantic. German Lopez unpacks the decision for Vox.

At the Election Law Blog, Rick Hasen calls the decision “a major victory for voting rights plaintiffs,” maintaining that “[t]hat Justice Kagan got Justice Thomas not only to vote this way but to sign onto the opinion (giving it precedential value) is a really big deal.” In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Hasen argues that “two footnotes in the case radically rework the court’s thinking about the relationship between racial and political- party discrimination in a way that should greatly expand the ability to bring gerrymandering claims in states where race and party overlap significantly,” because under the logic of the opinion, “legislators will no longer be able to hide behind claims of partisan motivation to protect themselves from racial gerrymandering claims.” Ruthann Robson analyzes the opinion at the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, and at the Election Law Blog, Richard Pildes and Justin Levitt do the same here and here, respectively. Elura Nanos weighs in on the ruling at LawNewz. In The Washington Post, Amber Phillips offers “a rundown of the redistricting landscape — and how it could affect our elections.”

In Water Splash v. Menon, the court ruled that the Hague Service Convention, which governs service of process across international boundaries, permits service of process by mail. Yesterday’s third opinion was in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, in which the court held that in the patent venue statute, residence refers only to a defendant’s state of incorporation, limiting the locations in which patent cases can be filed. In The Wall Street Journal, Brent Kendall reports that the “ruling could significantly shift patent-infringement lawsuits out of some federal districts, including in east Texas, that have been home to large numbers of patent cases because patent holders believed those courts provided a favorable venue for their claims.” Additional coverage comes from Greg Stohr and Susan Decker at Bloomberg and Andrew Chung at Reuters. At PatentlyO, Dennis Crouch discusses the ruling, as does Walter Olson at the Cato Institute’s Cato at Liberty blog. At Empirical SCOTUS, Adam Feldman looks at linguistic statistics from the opinion and the oral argument.


  • At the National Conference of State Legislatures blog, Lisa Soronen discusses Kindred Nursing Centers v. Clark, in which the court held that a power of attorney does not need to address arbitration specifically before an agent can bind her principal to an arbitration agreement; she notes that Justice Elena Kagan’s opinion suggested that the justices are becoming “battle weary when it comes to getting state courts to stop ruling that state law pre-empts the Federal Arbitration Act.”
  • In The Atlantic, Matt Ford reports that the court is considering whether to review two Fourth Amendment cases challenging the police’s authority to obtain cell-phone tower data without a warrant, observing that “the increasing sophistication of cellphone technology means the Court will likely need to address the issue soon.”
  • At Empirical SCOTUS, Adam Feldman analyzes the first batch of opinions this term, noting that the “Court has yet to split equally this term and may not have such a split at all.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (May. 23, 2017, 6:15 AM),