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Friday round-up

Last night the Supreme Court halted the execution of a Buddhist prisoner, Patrick Murphy, pending review of Murphy’s challenge to Texas’ refusal to allow a Buddhist priest to join him in the execution chamber. Amy Howe has this blog’s coverage. At Bloomberg, Greg Stohr reports that “[[t]he order marked an abrupt shift for the court, which last month voted 5-4 to let Alabama execute a Muslim man without his imam.” Robert Barnes reports for The Washington Post that “[t]he court’s conservatives were criticized by liberals and religious conservatives for that decision.” Kevin Daley reports at The Daily Caller that “Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch dissented from Thursday’s 7-2 decision[, and] Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote a brief separate statement concurring with the majority.”

At Bloomberg Law, Kimberly Robinson reports that after Wednesday’s oral argument in Kisor v. Wilkie, in which the Supreme Court was asked to reconsider precedents that require courts to defer to a federal agency’s reasonable interpretation of its own regulations, the “justices appear primed to curtail administrative agencies’ regulatory power, but the court’s ultimate decision could lead to a much bigger conservative target: overturning the oft-maligned Chevron doctrine.” At The Daily Signal, Elizabeth Slattery argues that “it’s time for the court to correct its mistake and make clear that judges—not agency officials —say what the law is.” William Goren analyzes the argument at Understanding the ADA.

For The Economist, Steven Mazie reports that during oral argument in this week’s two partisan-gerrymandering cases, Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek, “[n]o justices spoke up in favour of politicians warping district lines to entrench their own power,” “[b]ut it was uncertain, after more than two hours of oral arguments, whether a majority of the justices will decide that even ghastly gerrymanders violate America’s constitution.” At the Election Law Blog, Richard Pildes notes that “several Justices raised questions about whether partisan-gerrymandering challenges implicitly appeal in one way or another to a baseline of proportional representation (PR),” but Pildes points out that “political scientists have long understood that a system of single-member districting, such as we use for Congress, should not be expected to produce PR.”

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Stephen Bright weighs in on Flowers v. Mississippi, which asks whether a prosecutor’s repeated use of peremptory challenges to remove black people from the jury pool violated the Constitution, arguing that “[p]eople will stop recognizing courts as fair, legitimate and credible if such discrimination continues,” and that “[e]nding it must be one of the highest priorities of criminal justice reform.” At Justia’s Verdict blog, Dorf asserts that Thomas’ rare question during last week’s oral argument in the case “implied a view that is rather strongly at odds with a position that [Thomas] and other conservative justices have staked out—namely, that the Constitution forbids all government consideration of race, even if employed to counteract prior race discrimination.”


  • Kevin Daley reports for The Daily Caller that “[t]he Supreme Court has turned down two bids to halt the Trump administration’s ban on bump stocks, an accessory that increases a semiautomatic rifle’s rate of fire.”
  • At his eponymous blog, Michael Dorf uses the court’s recent cert grant in Ramos v. Louisiana, which asks whether the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a unanimous jury in a criminal case applies to the states, as an occasion to consider “[w]hat accounts for the long dormancy of incorporation cases and their recent revival.”
  • The latest episode of the Heritage Foundation’s SCOTUS 101 podcast focuses on “the oral argument in the partisan gerrymandering and agency deference cases and a victory for moose hunters in Alaska.”
  • At The Christian Science Monitor, Henry Gass looks at how Chief Justice John Roberts is fulfilling his role as “the court’s new ideological center, or ‘swing vote’ when justices are deadlocked.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Friday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 29, 2019, 7:10 AM),