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Wednesday round-up

For The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin and Brent Kendall report that Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, in which the justices ruled on Monday that Ohio’s process for removing infrequent voters from the state’s voter rolls does not violate federal voter-registration laws, “split the court 5-to-4 along ideological lines, mirroring the politics of the issue: Conservatives have favored stricter requirements for voters to demonstrate their eligibility, while liberals have sought to lower barriers to casting ballots.” Additional coverage comes from Scott Bomboy at Constitution Daily. At The Nation, John Nichols argues that the ruling “raises the prospect that even more aggressive purges could be implemented by Republican officials in battleground states where statewide contests are frequently decided by narrow margins.” The editorial board of The Washington Post maintains that “[s]tates should be encouraging more civic participation, not less.” Additional commentary comes from Nancy LeTourneau at Washington Monthly, Jessica Mason Pieklo at Rewire.News, and Myrna Perez and Jonathan Brater in an op-ed for CNN, who maintain that “the Supreme Court also confirmed some real limits against bad purges.”

Subscript offers a graphic explainer for Sveen v. Melin, in which the court ruled that retroactive application of a state law providing that divorce automatically nullifies the designation of a former spouse as a life-insurance beneficiary does not violate the Constitution’s contracts clause. In an op-ed for Forbes, Nick Sibilla asserts that the majority “decided to ignore the Framers’ original meaning, compelling policy evidence, and common sense.” In an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, Adam Carrington looks at Justice Neil Gorsuch’s solo dissent, in which “Gorsuch sought to breathe life into the Contracts Clause,” suggesting that the justice’s “reading holds plenty of support in both the Framer’s intentions and early Supreme Court precedent.” At ThinkProgress, Ian Millhiser finds the dissent “worrying [because i]t suggests that Gorsuch is eager to implement an anti-government agenda that would even make Justice Thomas cringe.” Additional commentary comes from Roger Pilon at the Cato Institute’s Cato at Liberty blog.

At PrawfsBlawg, Cassandra Robertson looks at China Agritech v. Resh, in which the court held that the rule suspending the statute of limitations for individual claims filed after a failed class action does not apply to subsequent class actions, noting that “[t]he Court has been highly skeptical of class-action practice in general, and extending an equitable-tolling rule to protect future class actions was always going to be a long shot.” At Law360 (subscription required), Ed Beeson suggests that the court “gave companies some relief … when it ruled that plaintiffs can’t file follow-on class actions after the statutory deadline has expired, but that relief could be short-lived if plaintiffs respond by taking more actions in the cases they’re involved in to preserve their rights.” [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.]

Miriam Seifter analyzes Monday’s ruling that affirmed the lower court’s judgment in Washington v. United States by an equally divided court, with Justice Anthony Kennedy recused, for this blog. At Courthouse News Service, Barbara Leonard reports that the “unusual tie … has left intact an order expected to cost Washington billions of dollars after Native American tribes contested culvert work that blocked fish migration.” Additional coverage comes from Scott Bomboy at Constitution Daily.

At The World and Everything In It, Mary Reichard talks to the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Jack Phillips, about Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the court ruled in Phillips’ favor after he refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding because doing so would violate his religious beliefs. In a Bloomberg Law’s Cases and Controversies podcast, Jordan Rubin and Kimberly Robinson break down the decision and discuss with advocates for both sides how it “will affect future cases, including the impending Supreme Court ruling on President Trump’s travel ban.”

In an op-ed for CNN, Marty Tankleff weighs in on Dassey v. Dittmann, a cert petition filed by one of the subjects of the Netflix documentary series “Making a Murderer,” arguing that “[t]here is a desperate need for the court to take Dassey’s case — and I should know [– a]s a seventeen-year-old, I was manipulated during interrogation into confessing — falsely — to killing my own parents.” At the American Psychological Association, Saul Kassin maintains that “[t]he court should review the case because it raises many troubling issues about coercive techniques used on a vulnerable teenager — a population the court has protected in the past.”  [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the petitioner in this case.]

At Crime and Consequences, Kent Scheidegger remarks on the lack of criminal law action in Monday’s Supreme Court opinions and orders. At the Sentencing Law and Policy Blog, Douglas Berman observes that “about a quarter of the cases still on th[is term’s merits] docket involve criminal justice matters.”


  • Fix the Court reports on the results of a recent poll showing that “[m]ost Americans view the Supreme Court favorably, but its popularity is dimmed by how little voters are paying attention to its work.”
  • At PrawfsBlawg, Erica Goldberg writes that in Hughes v. United States, the justices left open the “cool, conceptual legal puzzle” of “how lower courts should interpret fractured Supreme Court opinions where no majority agrees on the rationale behind a decision,” and she considers why “pondering cool, conceptual legal puzzles is important.”
  • In the most recent episode of the Heritage Foundation’s SCOTUS 101 podcast, Elizabeth Slattery and Tiffany Bates “talk about a win for election integrity and a loss for one of the Constitution’s lost clauses,” and “[t]hey also chat with Sixth Circuit Judge Jeff Sutton.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 13, 2018, 7:23 AM),