Breaking News

Thursday round-up

Yesterday the court issued two opinions from the December argument session. In Timbs v. Indiana, the court ruled unanimously that the Eighth Amendment’s ban on excessive fines applies to states and localities under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. Amy Howe has this blog’s opinion analysis, which first appeared at Howe on the Court. At Bloomberg, Greg Stohr reports that “[t]he ruling limits what critics say is an increasingly common and abusive government practice of using fines and forfeitures to raise revenue.” David Savage reports for the Los Angeles Times that “[t]he ruling is a victory for Tyson Timbs, an Indiana man and a former heroin addict whose $42,000 Land Rover was seized by police after he was convicted of two drug sales that amounted to about $300.” At, Tony Mauro reports that Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with the result, but would have relied on the privileges or immunities clause, which Thomas has long argued provides “a stronger rationale for justifying fundamental rights than the due process clause.” Additional coverage comes from Kevin Daley at The Daily Caller, Jess Bravin for The Wall Street Journal, Bill Lucia at Route Fifty, and Charles Gallmeyer at Jurist. ABC News has a video interview with Timbs’ attorney. Commentary comes from Ruthann Robson at the Constitutional Law Prof Blog and Kent Scheidegger at Crime & Consequences, who writes that “[t]his is likely the last provision of the Bill of Rights to be ‘incorporated.’”

In Dawson v. Steager, another unanimous opinion, the court held that West Virginia cannot exempt some former state and local law-enforcement employees from taxation of their pension benefits without extending the same exemption to retired members of the U.S. Marshals Service. Daniel Hemel analyzes the opinion for this blog. Subscript Law offers a graphic explainer for the opinion. Additional coverage comes from Xi Lucy Shi at Jurist.

Ronald Mann has this blog’s analysis of yesterday’s argument in Mission Product Holdings Inc. v. Tempnology LLC, in which the justices considered whether a trademark licensee retains any rights under a licensing agreement when the licensor goes bankrupt. Additional coverage comes from Bill Donahue at Law360 (subscription required). [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 petitioner in this case.]


  • For USA Today, Richard Wolf reports that in The American Legion v. American Humanist Association, which asks whether a World War I memorial shaped like a cross on public property violates the Constitution’s establishment clause, “the answer is complicated by opinion after opinion from the court over the last several decades.” [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.]
  • At Constitution Daily, Lyle Denniston writes that, because Thomas is “the most willing Justice on the modern Court to cast aside precedents, however long they have remained on the books, as unfaithful to what he describes as the original constitutional meaning,” it “was no surprise when on Tuesday he singled out another precedent as a potential for overruling: the Court’s 55-year-old decision in New York Times v. Sullivan,” “one of the sturdiest shields protecting freedom of expression in America.”

We rely on our readers to send us links for our round-up. If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, podcast, or op-ed relating to the Supreme Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at] Thank you!

Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Thursday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Feb. 21, 2019, 7:20 AM),