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Friday round-up

At Take Care (cross-posted at The George Washington Law Review’s On the Docket blog), Robert Tuttle and Ira Lupu weigh in on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the court ruled on Monday in favor of a Christian baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, arguing that “a system that threatens to overturn any administrative decision that appears tainted – even harmlessly – by signs of religious bias is one that will inevitably favor religious interests over other, competing concerns,” and that “when such a system is especially sensitive to slights against conservative Christians but not others, it is constitutionally corrupt.” At Mother Jones, Stephanie Mencimer contends that the court “wanted a way to rule narrowly in favor of [the] Colorado baker,” and  “seems to have found the answer to its conundrum in a stunt pulled by a religious-right activist,” “illustrat[ing] the extent to which Christian legal organizations are influencing the law, all the way to the Supreme Court.” At Commentary, Sohrab Ahmari “wonder[s] whether religious freedom, without more, suffices to protect faith and tradition in the public square,” asserting that “religious conservatives should also go on the offensive and once more formulate a substantive politics of the common good.” Additional commentary comes from Counting to 5 (podcast) and from Kristin Waggoner at PoliZette, who asserts that “despite what some might say,” “other artists who share [the baker]’s religious beliefs about marriage will also benefit from the court’s decision.”

At Politico Magazine, Richard Primus considers the implications of the decision in Masterpiece for Trump v. Hawaii, this term’s challenge to the latest version of the Trump administration’s entry ban, pointing out that “over and over in Monday’s decision, Justice Kennedy articulated positions directly relevant to the entry ban—all of them running against the Trump administration’s position.” At Hosts of Error, Will Rosenzweig also remarks on the connection, suggesting that “the Court may be poised to feign ignorance of the president’s clearly stated intent just a few weeks after divining deep religious discrimination from a few comments from an obscure Colorado commission.”

At EducationNext, Bradley Marianno and Katharine Strunk examine what a victory for the plaintiffs in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, which asks whether an Illinois law allowing public-sector unions to charge nonmembers for collective-bargaining activities violates the First Amendment, would mean for teachers unions, concluding that “[b]y causing teachers unions to return to collective action on behalf of their members, the Supreme Court decision may, in the end, invigorate the unions that these court cases and the groups that sponsored them intended to incapacitate.” A report on these findings comes from Madeline Will at Education Week. [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.]


  • For USA Today, Richard Wolf reports that “[a]s the Supreme Court prepares to rule this month on the computer-generated methods by which politicians draw election districts for partisan advantage, Chief Justice John Roberts urged high school graduates Thursday to ‘beware the robots’”; Roberts warned that “artificial intelligence and big data can alter the way people perceive the world.”
  • At The National Law Journal (subscription or registration required), Tony Mauro reports that “[w]ithout fanfare, the U.S. Supreme Court has broken a long streak of appointing former law clerks to undertake prestigious oral arguments in cases in which one party has abandoned a stance that the justices want discussed,” inviting “Atlanta solo practitioner Amy Weil … ‘to brief and argue’ as amicus curiae in favor of an appeals court decision that neither side supports anymore in a Social Security attorney-fee case that will be argued next term.”
  • At Constitution Daily, Scott Bomboy looks at Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, which asks whether a Minnesota law banning political apparel at polling places is facially overbroad under the First Amendment.
  • At Empirical SCOTUS, Adam Feldman examines “the justices’ voting pairs and how they might shift if Justice [Anthony] Kennedy does retire at the end of the term.”
  • At FiveThirtyEight, Galen Druke “outline[s] seven potential paths the court could take,” in this term’s two partisan-gerrymandering cases, Gill v. Whitford and Benisek v. Lamone, ranging from “overhauling the way we divide ourselves into districts to clearing a legal path for extreme partisan gerrymandering to continue.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Friday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 8, 2018, 7:16 AM),