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Wednesday round-up

The dust continues to settle from the court’s unanimous rulings on Monday in two partisan-gerrymandering cases, Gill v. Whitford and Benisek v. Lamone, both of which the justices sent back to the lower courts without reaching the merits. At CNN, Joan Biskupic reports that “[t]he Supreme Court’s rejection of Democrats’ challenge to districts they say were rigged on a partisan basis by Wisconsin Republicans [in Whitford] came on a 9-0 vote, but dueling opinions revealed internal conflicts and portend difficulty ahead for any future gerrymandering claim.” At The Economist’s Democracy in America blog, Steven Mazie observes that “[t]he justices have bought themselves some time, but they are unlikely to find relief from the question of how far legislatures can go in rigging elections.”  At ACS Blog, Gury-Uriel Charles maintains that “plaintiffs challenging partisan gerrymandering claims seem to have been given a reprieve to take one last shot,” and “they would be wise to follow the path laid out for them by Justice Kagan, as she’s their only hope.” Additional commentary and analysis come from Justin Levitt in an op-ed for The Washington Post, Richard Pildes in an op-ed for The New York Times, Mark Joseph Stern at Slate, Vann Newkirk at The Atlantic, Eric Segal in an op-ed for NBC News, Galen Druke at FiveThirtyEight, Carolyn Shapiro in an op-ed at The Hill, Thomas Mann at Brookings, Medium’s Flippable blog, Jeffrey Toobin at The New Yorker, and Walter Olson at the Cato Institute’s Cato at Liberty blog, who notes that “not a single Justice [in Whitford] backs the notion that other branches’ irresponsible failure to act on some problem can, by itself and without more, make it legitimate for courts to step in.”

This blog’s opinion analysis in Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, in which the justices ruled that the existence of probable cause for arrest does not automatically bar a First Amendment retaliatory-arrest claim, comes from Heidi Kitrosser. Subscript has a graphic explainer for the decision. At Constitution Daily, Scott Bomboy reports that “Justice Kennedy said that Lozman should be able to at least argue that a concerted municipal policy targeted at him overrides any probable cause claim made by Riviera Beach.” For the Miami Herald, Alex Daugherty reports that “Lozman is now 2-0 at the Supreme Court, an accomplishment that his lawyer said is unprecedented for an individual plaintiff in a court that rejects around 7,000 cases every year and hears only 80.” Additional coverage comes from Jim Saunders and Dara Kam for News Service of Florida (via Flagler Live), Carolina Bodado at Law360 (subscription required), and Brittany Shammas at Miami New Times, who reports that “[t]he ruling could shield other municipal agitators from arrest for criticizing elected officials at public meetings, giving them a cause of action against the government if they are able to prove animosity.” Commentary comes from Kelly Tarrant in an op-ed for Chicago Now, The Media Coalition, and Clay Calvert in an op-ed for the Tampa Bay Times,

Susan Klein provides this blog’s opinion analysis for Chavez-Meza v. United States, in which the court held on Monday that a decision not to grant a proportional sentence reduction does not require a detailed written explanation. Subscript’s graphic explainer is here. At Courthouse News Service, Kevin Lessmiller reports that the court found “that the judge’s awareness of the case record allowed for his use of a barebones form order.” Evan Lee analyzes the opinion in Monday’s other sentencing case, Rosales-Mireles v. United States, in which the justices held that a sentencing-guideline miscalculation found to be plain error ordinarily calls for the court of appeals to vacate a defendant’s sentence, for this blog. Here is Subscript’s graphic explainer. In an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, Adam Carrington observes that the “majority and dissenting opinions … articulated the underlying tension between justice and necessity in our judicial procedures.”


  • For this blog, Steve Vladeck covers the federal government’s request in Sessions v. City of Chicago, Illinois that the Supreme Court limit the scope of a nationwide injunction that prohibits the administration from denying funding to cities that don’t comply with some immigration enforcement measures.
  • At Take Care, Jim Oleske unpacks Justices Elena Kagan’s and Neil Gorsuch’s dueling concurrences in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the court ruled in favor of a baker who refused for religious reasons to make a custom cake for a same-sex wedding.
  • At Reason, Damon Root notes that Timbs v. Indiana, in which the court will decide next term whether the Eighth Amendment’s excessive fines clause applies to the states, “gives the Supreme Court an opportunity to consider the broader injustices that occur in the name of civil asset forfeiture.”
  • For Agence France-Presse (via Abogado), Sébastien Blanc reports that “[t]he US Supreme Court on Thursday will decide whether to hear an appeal in [Dassey v. Dittmann,] a case made famous by popular Netflix series ‘Making a Murderer’ that raised troubling questions about the American judicial system.”
  • For the Chicago Tribune, William Lee reports that “Drew Peterson is taking his case to the nation’s highest court as the former Bolingbrook, Ill., police officer seeks to undo his murder conviction for the death of his third wife.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jun. 20, 2018, 7:10 AM),