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Tuesday round-up

Yesterday the court decided one of the term’s most closely watched cases, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the justices held 7-2 that, by failing to exhibit religious neutrality when it required a Christian baker to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, a state commission violated the baker’s free-exercise rights. Amy Howe has this blog’s opinion analysis, which first appeared at Howe on the Court. Subscript has a graphic explainer for the decision. At The Daily Caller, Kevin Daley reports that “[t]hough the baker prevailed in Monday’s decision, the Court’s decision is narrow in the sense that the ruling is carefully fact-bound and does not address the major First Amendment question the case raised.” For the Los Angeles Times, David Savage writes that “[t]he outcome was not a clear win for either side in what has become one of the nation’s latest culture wars.” Additional coverage comes from Robert Barnes for The Washington Post, Mark Walsh for Education Week’s School Law Blog, Nina Totenberg at NPR, Josh Gerstein at Politico, Marcia Coyle and Tony Mauro at, Adam Liptak for The New York Times, Ariane de Vogue at CNN, Lydia Wheeler at The Hill, Greg Stohr at Bloomberg, Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed, Sam Baker at Axios, Jaclyn Belczyk at Jurist, Richard Wolf for USA Today, and Jess Bravin at The Wall Street Journal, who reports that the decision “all but ensured that the underlying conflict between gay-rights backers and religious conservatives soon would return to the court.”

At Take Care, Leah Litman contends that if the court “is serious about the reasoning and principles it articulated in Masterpiece Cakeshop, and it should be, then it should reject several of the arguments that have been used [in Trump v. Hawaii] to defend the entry ban.” Additional commentary comes from Michael Dorf at his eponymous blog, Robert George in an op-ed for The New York Times, the editorial board of The Washington Post, Rick Hills at PrawfsBlawg, Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress, Jennifer Rubin in an op-ed for The Washington Post, Erica Goldberg at PrawfsBlawg, Jennifer Finney Boylan in an op-ed for The New York Times, Noah Feldman in an op-ed for Bloomberg, Lisa Keen at Keen News Service, Michael Farris at National Review, Mark Joseph Stern at Slate, Scott Skinner-Thompson, also at Slate, Ruthann Robson at the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, Nonnie Shivers and Hera Arsen at Ogletree Deakins, Lisa Soronen at the National Conference of State Legislators Blog, Cassandra Robertson at PrawfsBlawg, Michael Bobelian at Forbes, David Cole in an op-ed for The Washington Post, Kristin Waggoner in an op-ed for Fox News, Sarah Posner at The Nation, Jessica Mason Pieklo at Rewire.News, Laura Huss, also at Rewire.News, Ryan Adler at Good Judgment, Jack Phillips in an op-ed for USA Today, Michael McConnell at Stanford Law School’s Legal Aggregate Blog, Howard Wasserman at PrawfsBlawg, Eric Posner and Glen Weyl at Vox, and Garrett Epps at The Atlantic, who suggests that “[t]he action in the Cakeshop opinions … involved jockeying for position in … future cases between the moderate liberals, led in this case by Justice Elena Kagan, and the hard-right conservatives, led here by Justice Neil Gorsuch.” In an op-ed for The Hill, James Gottry maintains that “[t]he Supreme Court’s decision simply clarifies that the government may not show hostility toward people of faith.”

The court also decided two sentencing cases yesterday. The first was Hughes v. United States, in which the justices held 6-3 that a defendant who pleads guilty in a plea deal can benefit from later changes in the sentencing guidelines so long as the district court relied on the guideline range in imposing the sentence or accepting the agreement. At the Pacific Legal Foundation blog, Anthony Francois remarks that “now in a couple of important criminal law decisions Justice Gorsuch has sided with what might simplistically be called the ‘liberal’ membership of the Court.” In Koons v. United States, a unanimous court held that defendants subject to mandatory minimums who received lower sentences because they helped the government are not eligible for further reductions if the guideline range is later lowered. Douglas Berman has this blog’s opinion analysis. Kent Scheidegger looks at yesterday’s sentencing decisions, along with a cert denial in a capital case, at Crime and Consequences.

In the fourth case decided yesterday, Lamar, Archer & Cofrin, LLP v. Appling, the court held that a false statement about a single asset can constitute a statement about a debtor’s financial condition under bankruptcy law. Erin McCarthy Holliday discusses the decision at Jurist. Mark Walsh has a “view” from the courtroom of today’s opinion announcements for this blog.

Yesterday the court also issued orders from last week’s private conference. The justices did not add any cases to their merits docket, but they did issue a long-awaited ruling in Azar v. Garza, vacating as moot a lower-court decision that cleared the way for a pregnant undocumented teenager held in a federal facility to obtain an abortion. Amy Howe has this blog’s coverage, which first appeared at Howe on the Court. For The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow report that “[t]he action, which came in an unsigned opinion without noted dissents, throws out a precedent that might allow other teenagers in the same circumstance to obtain an abortion.” Additional coverage comes from Kevin Daley at The Daily Caller, Richard Wolf for USA Today, Josh Gerstein and Renuka Rayasam at Politico, Lydia Wheeler at The Hill, and Lawrence Hurley at Reuters, who reports that the court “declined to take up the administration’s request for disciplinary action against the American Civil Liberties Union lawyers who represented the girl,” and “allowed litigation to continue in lower courts concerning other detained immigrants in detention in … similar situations.” Commentary comes from Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress and Imani Gandy at Rewire.News.

At the Pacific Legal Foundation’s blog, Timothy Snowball weighs in on Gundy v. United States, in which the justices will decide next term whether a provision of the federal sex-offender act violates the nondelegation doctrine, arguing that “the current intelligible principle standard for governing congressional re-delegations of its legislative power lacks a basis in the text and original meaning of the Constitution, [and] that it frustrates the democratic accountability of Congress, and leads to the violation of individual rights.” In an op-ed for The Hill, Mark Miller takes a similar view, maintaining that “this case is less about Gundy than it is about the Supreme Court reining in the regulatory state run amok, and requiring Congress to get back to doing its job.”


  • First Mondays (podcast) features a discussion of last week’s decisions.
  • At Medium, Grant Stern notes that “[t]he Miami-Dade County State’s Attorney just lost a major ruling in front of the Supreme Court” when the justices “declined to review McDonough vs. Fernandez-Rundle, the landmark appellate case which Katherine Fernandez-Rundle lost last year, that affirms citizens rights to surreptitiously record the police in the state of Florida.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 5, 2018, 7:11 AM),