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Wednesday round-up

Today the justices close out the February session with an argument in the most notable case of the term so far, The American Legion v. American Humanist Association, an establishment clause challenge to a World War I memorial shaped like a cross on public property. Amy Howe had this blog’s preview. Lauren Devendorf and Tyler Schmitt preview the case for Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. Subscript Law has a graphic explainer. [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 NPR, Nina Totenberg reports that “over the past half-century, the high court has wrestled with the question of where to draw the line separating church and state,” and that “[t]his case offers the opportunity for a newly constituted conservative court majority to draw a new, more religion-friendly line.” Shannon Bream and Bill Mears report for Fox News that “[h]undreds of similar cross-shaped war memorials across the country, as well as other religious displays, could be affected.” Additional coverage comes from Ariane de Vogue and Geneva Sands for CNN and from Steven Mazie at The Economist’s Espresso blog. In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Nelson Tebbe and others urge the court to “safeguard the principle of religious equality” by deeming the display unconstitutional. Additional commentary comes from Alvergia Guyton and Mary Laquay in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner and from the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal, which argues that “a narrow ruling [allowing the cross to remain] would perpetuate the current confusion in the lower courts” and calls on the justices “to clear up their messy Establishment Clause jurisprudence.”

Yesterday the court ruled unanimously in Nutraceutical Corp. v. Lambert that an equitable exception cannot be used to extend the deadline for appealing an order granting or denying class certification in a class-action lawsuit. Howard Wasserman analyzes the opinion for this blog.

Amy Howe analyzes yesterday’s argument in United States v. Haymond, a constitutional challenge to a statutory provision that requires judges to impose additional prison time on sex offenders who violate the terms of their supervised release, for this blog, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court. At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern concludes that “a clear majority of the court seemed prepared to rule [for the defendant], either striking down the scheme altogether or compelling the government to prove each new offense to a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt.”


  • At The Economist’s Democracy in America blog, Steven Mazie writes that Monday’s oral argument in Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, which asks whether a private operator of a public-access TV channel is a “state actor” who can be sued for violations of the First Amendment, suggests that “the decision … will be limited to the analog and rather parochial world of public-access cable—and broadcasts that are fewer and tamer than those streaming on digital devices, with far smaller audiences.”
  • For the ABA Journal, Mark Walsh previews Iancu v. Brunetti, in which the court will consider a First Amendment challenge to the ban on registration of “immoral” or “scandalous” trademarks, noting that “[t]he case is casting light on the Patent and Trademark Office’s handling of trademark applications under the scandalous-marks provision.”
  • At OgletreeDeakins, Lara de Leon discusses Monday’s ruling in Yovino v. Rizo, in which the justices threw out a court of appeals ruling in a case about gender pay disparities because the decisive vote came from a judge who died before the opinion was issued.

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Feb. 27, 2019, 6:57 AM),