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Wednesday round-up

The court’s decision Monday in Cooper v. Harris, in which the justices upheld a lower court’s ruling that North Carolina relied too heavily on race in drawing the boundaries of two congressional districts, continues to draw attention, including from this blog, where a symposium on the court’s racial-gerrymandering cases this term has just concluded. In The Economist, Steven Mazie reports that the “rare coalition of the Supreme Court’s four liberals with Clarence Thomas, the most conservative justice, is less surprising than it appears,” because “Justice Thomas consistently votes against official consideration of race, no matter the political fallout.” At PrawfsBlawg, Roderick Hills offers “kudos to Thomas for sticking to his color-blind guns” and “rejecting the temptation of abandoning his principles for short-term partisan advantage.” At Modern Democracy, Michael Parsons calls the decision “a mixed bag,” explaining that it offers a “[g]ood short-term result and good clarification of the law on ‘race-as-a-proxy-for-politics,’” but “bad dicta on partisan advantage and bad signaling for future partisan gerrymandering cases based on Kennedy’s place among the dissenters.” At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern maintains that Monday’s decision “will not singlehandedly fix the problem of gerrymandering in America,” because as “long as partisan gerrymandering remains legal, legislators will continue to draw districts that disfavor the opposing party, entrenching their own power for years.” At Empirical SCOTUS, Adam Feldman offers linguistic statistics from the opinion and the oral argument.

In Water Splash v. Menon, the court ruled on Monday that the Hague Service Convention, which governs service of process across international boundaries, permits service of process by mail. Charlotte Garden has this blog’s opinion analysis. At Letters Blogatory, Ted Folkman looks at the decision, noting that the opinion puts the state and federal courts in the United States “on the same page with the Special Commission of the Hague Conference, the US State Department, most if not all foreign courts, and more or less all writers on the subject.” At Conflict of, Charles Kotuby concludes that the court’s “permissive reading serves to increase the practical utility of the Convention around the world.” Linguistic statistics from the opinion and the oral argument can be found at Empirical SCOTUS.

Monday’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. Ronald Mann analyzes the opinion for this blog. At the Cato Institute’s Cato at Liberty blog, Walter Olson observes that the decision “is likely to stand as a landmark win for defendants in patent litigation – and, on a practical level, for fairer ground rules in procedure.”


  • At the Brennan Center for Justice, Ciara Torres-Spelliscy discusses Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion for the court this term in Buck v. Davis, in which the court lifted the death sentence of a Texas inmate whose defense expert had testified during sentencing that the defendant was more likely to be violent in the future because he is black, noting that “the Roberts of 2017 in Buck seems to have a keener appreciation of racism than the Roberts of four years earlier in Shelby County” and wondering “whether the 2016 election and its thinly-veiled racism challenged him to re-evaluate his views on the prevalence of American tolerance.”
  • A Washington Legal Foundation video features a discussion of the cert petition in appointments clause case Gordon v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; at the Foundation’s Legal Pulse blog, Richard Samp argues that the court should rectify the CFPB’s “end-run around Article II limitations on the President’s authority to appoint federal officers without the Senate’s approval.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (May. 24, 2017, 7:35 AM),