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Tuesday round-up

This morning the justices will hear oral argument in two cases. First up is Hughes v. United States, which involves how to determine the precedential effect of Supreme Court decisions with no majority opinion. Justin Marceau previewed the case for this blog. Another preview comes from Connor O’Neill and Abigail Yeo for Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. Subscript has a graphic explainer for the case. At The Narrowest Grounds, Asher Steinberg unpacks the arguments in the case.

Today’s second argument is in Koons v. United States, which asks whether defendants who were subject to statutory mandatory minimum sentences, but received shorter prison terms because they provided substantial assistance to the government, were eligible for sentence reductions after the Sentencing Commission lowered the guidelines range that would have applied without the statutory minimum. Douglas Berman had this blog’s preview. Larry Blocho and Ryan Powers preview the case for Cornell, and Subscript’s graphic explainer is here.

Mark Walsh has a “view” from the courtroom of yesterday’s oral argument in United States v. Sanchez-Gomez, in which the justices considered limits on appellate jurisdiction and mootness in the context of a challenge to a federal court district-wide policy of shackling defendants for most nonjury proceedings, for this blog.

Yesterday the justices also heard argument in China Agritech v. Resh, in which the court will decide whether the rule tolling the statute of limitations for individual actions filed after a failed class action also applies to subsequent class actions. Ed Beeson looks at the case for Law360 (subscription required), observing that it “come[s] down to a question of which policy argument the court finds more equitable: a doctrine that would protect companies from the threat of successive class actions or one that would let plaintiffs get another bite at the class action apple to pursue claims that wouldn’t be economical as individual matters.” [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel on an amicus brief in support of the respondents in this case.]

At the Associated Press, Mark Sherman reports that oral argument tomorrow in Benisek v. Lamone, a partisan-gerrymandering challenge by Republican voters to a congressional district in Maryland, “could offer fresh clues to what [the justices] are thinking about partisan gerrymandering, an increasingly hot topic before courts.” For USA Today, Richard Wolf contrasts Benisek with Gill v. Whitford, a partisan-gerrymandering challenge by Democratic voters to Wisconsin’s electoral maps, noting that “[w]hat makes the Maryland case different — beyond Democrats’ control of the maps — is that it focuses on one district rather than statewide and is based on a separate section of the Constitution.” For The Baltimore Sun, John Fritze reports on “documents [that] shed new light on the behind-the-scenes machinations of the 2011 redistricting” at issue in Benisek. At Politico Magazine, Richard Hasen observes that “[w]ith Benisek, the court has its last best chance to come up with a standard to police gerrymandering ahead of the 2020 Census and the redistricting that will follow.” The editorial board of The Baltimore Sun argues that the case offers the court “an important opportunity to uphold the Constitution’s promise that the House (and by implication, state legislative bodies) reflect the changing will of the people, not the interests of incumbents or whatever party is in power when the lines are drawn.” At the Election Law Blog, Nicholos Stephanopolous responds to a previous post discussing “whether a First Amendment theory of partisan gerrymandering renders the practice more like racial gerrymandering or racial vote dilution.”

At The Progressive, Bill Blum argues that a loss for California in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, a First Amendment challenge by crisis-pregnancy centers to a California law that requires licensed centers to post notices about the availability of publicly funded family-planning services and unlicensed centers to disclose that they have no medical personnel on staff, could “actually advance[] the cause of abortion rights.” The Daily Journal offers a podcast featuring a discussion of “the case’s most salient constitutional points” by four people whose organizations filed amicus briefs in the case.


  • Indianz notes that after the Supreme Court denied cert yesterday in two cases, “the long-running legal fight over the remaining funds in the $760 million Keepseagle settlement is finally over,” so “thousands of Indian farmers and ranchers will finally get their second payment for experiencing discrimination at the Department of Agriculture.”
  • Full Measure weighs in on the cert petition in Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization, a lawsuit filed by American families and victims of terrorist attacks in Israel.
  • At The World and Everything In It (podcast), Mary Reichard discusses the oral arguments in NIFLA v. Becerra and Sveen v. Melin, which asks whether a state law that automatically nullifies the designation of a former spouse as a life-insurance beneficiary upon divorce violates the Constitution’s contracts clause.
  • At The Hill, Alexander Bolton reports that “Senate Republicans are privately saying they hope Justice Anthony Kennedy announces his retirement in the coming months, before the fall midterm elections, arguing the move would give Republicans something to rally their base as they work to maintain control of the Senate.”

We rely on our readers to send us links for our round-up.  If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, podcast, or op-ed relating to the Supreme Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at] Thank you!

Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 27, 2018, 7:32 AM),