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Thursday round-up

In an op-ed for The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse writes that Chief Justice John Roberts’ vote last week in June Medical Services v. Gee to temporarily block a Louisiana law that would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals was not surprising, because “circumstances compelled the chief justice to stand up to a stunning act of judicial defiance” by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. At Take Care, Brianne Gorod and Rebecca Damante argue that “what Roberts does next will tell us a lot—about him and the trajectory of the Court he leads.” At The Interdependent Third Branch, Lawrence Friedman maintains that “[m]ore interesting than the Chief voting to impose the stay was Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s dissent—the only separate opinion,” which suggests that “the Chief Justice has another colleague who appreciates that the Court’s ability to perform its constitutionally assigned role is inextricably connected to the esteem in which it is held.”

At Take Care, Leah Litman asserts that last week’s two stay orders, in June Medical Services and Dunn v. Ray, an Alabama death-penalty case, “underscore how procedural rules and procedural maneuvers (or at least the procedural rules the Court invoked in Ray and June Medical Services) are deeply substantive in that they ask the Court to make a determination about who should bear the risk of error in each case, and when (or under what circumstances), procedural rules should be forgiven.” In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Luke Goodrich suggests that Ray’s execution “after the U.S. Supreme Court refused his petition to have an imam beside him as he died” was “unfortunate and unjust,” but that “accusations that the Supreme Court’s decision reflects anti-Muslim bias are also mistaken.”

At The World and Everything in It (podcast), Mary Reichard interviews four people on both sides of the dispute in The American Legion v. American Humanist Association, an establishment clause challenge to a World War I memorial shaped like a cross on public property. In an op-ed for Fox News, Todd Starnes points to a “new survey conducted by George Barna of Metaformation indicat[ing] that an overwhelming number of Americans, young and old, believe the war memorial should not be torn down.” [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is counsel on an amicus brief in support of the petitioners in this case.]


  • For AP, Mark Sherman reports that “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has missed a month of Supreme Court arguments as she recovers from lung cancer surgery[, b]ut she’s not the first justice to be away for a while and her absence hardly compares with those of some of her predecessors.”
  • At The National Law Journal (subscription or registration required), Tony Mauro asks First Amendment scholars and advocates for their reactions to Roberts’ recent description of himself as “’probably the most aggressive defender of the First Amendment on the court now.’”
  • In an op-ed for The Hill, Scott Douglas Gerber assesses Justice Clarence Thomas’ “impact on American law,” observing that “[h]is most lasting influence is almost certainly going to be on civil rights law, a fact that is particularly important to note during Black History Month.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Thursday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Feb. 14, 2019, 6:57 AM),