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Friday round-up

As the Supreme Court term draws to a close, the justices have stepped up their output, holding an extra session yesterday to release opinions in three cases. Mark Walsh provides a “view” from the courtroom for this blog. At Crime and Consequences, Kent Scheidegger notes that the “theme out of the United States Supreme Court [yesterday was] materiality.”

The first decision was in Maslenjak v. United States, in which the justices held that the government cannot denaturalize someone for making false statements that did not affect the decision to make her a citizen. Amy Howe has this blog’s argument analysis. At Reuters, Lawrence Hurley reports that the justices “rejected the Trump administration’s stance that the government should be able to revoke citizenship of people for even minor misstatements in the citizenship application process.” Additional coverage comes from Lydia Wheeler at The Hill and Robert Barnes at The Washington Post. At The Narrowest Grounds, Asher Steinberg takes issue with Justice Samuel Alito’s concurring opinion, responding to two hypotheticals Alito employs to demonstrate that “materiality need not be causal,” but rather that “the illegal act … need only have a natural tendency to influence whether one obtains naturalization, regardless of whether it does.”

In Turner v. United States, the court upheld the convictions of the defendants in a notorious murder trial concluding that evidence withheld from the defense would not have affected the outcome of the trial. Amy Howe analyzes the opinion for this blog. In The Washington Post, Robert Barnes reports that “Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote that it was not reasonable to think that the withheld evidence — that a man convicted of similar crimes had been seen in the area — would have made a difference.”

Yesterday’s final decision was in Weaver v. Massachusetts, which held that excluding the public from jury selection did not invalidate a conviction because the defendant did not show that he was prejudiced by the exclusion. Rory Little has this blog’s argument analysis.

The Heritage Foundation’s SCOTUS 101 podcast features a discussion of Matal v. Tam, in which the justices held on Monday that a ban on the registration of disparaging trademarks violates the First Amendment. At Dorf on Law, Michael Dorf observes that “[t]hanks to Matal, the government speech doctrine will not swallow the First Amendment,” and he explores the implications of the decision for “claims to opt out of general obligations such as those imposed by antidiscrimination law” “in which an opt-out was asserted as a matter of free speech.”

At Take Care, David Gans weighs in on Monday’s decision in Ziglar v. Abbasi, in which the justices limited the ability to bring suit under the Constitution against federal officials for detentions in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, arguing that “Ziglar offers a thin, unconvincing view of separation of powers that never takes seriously that the judiciary has an affirmative role to play in the Constitution’s system.” At PrawfsBlawg, Richard Re observes that “critics of Abbasi have argued that Bivens is now ‘all but overruled’ and ‘all-but limited … to its facts.,” but notes that “similar claims have been made before—and will likely be made yet again,” and that if “Bivens has nine lives, it seems to have two or three left to go.”


  • Slate’s Breakfast Table forum offers commentary on the term’s cases from Walter Dellinger here and Pamela Karlan here.
  • In an op-ed in The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse looks at Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s opinion for the court in Sessions v. Morales-Santana, which held that differential treatment of parents by gender in immigration law violates equal protection; Greenhouse maintains that the “ruling defied expectations in every way that counted and suggests a more complex picture of the Roberts court than its notably ideology-riven decisions usually offer.”
  • At the Sentencing Law and Policy blog, Douglas Berman weighs in The Washington Post Fact Checker’s assertion that a statement about sex-offender recidivism by Justice Samuel Alito in Packingham v. North Carolina was misleading, noting that “these are challenging issues to discuss with precision both conceptually and statistically,” and that “though I am always pleased to see detailed discussion of crime data in theWashington Post, I am troubled by its decision to ‘award Three Pinocchios’ to a statement that is factually true.”
  • The Nation features two articles examining the troubling aftermath of Montgomery v. Louisiana, in which the court 18 months ago gave retroactive effect to an earlier decision prohibiting mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders, by Jessica Pishko here and Danielle Wolffe here.
  • In Time, Thomas Wolf observes that the court’s ruling in Gill v. Whitford, a high-profile partisan-gerrymandering case the justices will consider next term, “will go a long way to determining whether you choose your representatives — or the other way around — and whether you’ll be able to hold them accountable when they put party agendas over your interests.”
  • In Mother Jones, Nathalie Baptiste discusses Ayestas v. Davis, in which the court will hear a death-row inmate’s argument that he was denied access to “state resources that should be made available to pay for experts or investigators.”
  • At the Cato Institute’s Cato at Liberty blog, Ilya Shapiro and David McDonald discuss two amicus briefs filed by Cato – one in support of a cert petition challenging California “commercial-fishing license fees that require nonresidents to pay several times more than residents” here, and another in support of a petition contesting Minnesota’s “unfettered confinement of sex offenders” here.

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Friday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 23, 2017, 7:25 AM),