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Tuesday round-up

Today the justices will hear oral argument in Cochise Consultancy v. United States, ex rel. Hunt, which asks whether the “discovery” exception to False Claims Act statute of limitations applies to private parties in cases in which the government has not intervened. David Engstrom had this blog’s preview. Lauren Devendorf and Tyler Schmitt preview the case at Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. Subscript Law provides a graphic explainer. [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 respondent in this case.]

Amy Howe analyzes yesterday’s argument in Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill, an appeal by Republican legislators of a lower-court ruling that requires 11 state legislative districts to be redrawn to correct racial gerrymandering, for this blog, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court. Richard Wolf reports for USA Today that “[t]he court’s conservative justices seemed inclined to let the state’s Republican-controlled House of Delegates defend the racially-drawn districts, even when the Democratic executive branch refused to do so,” and that “[t]hey also defended the GOP’s decision to make 11 districts 55 percent African American, which a federal district court struck down as unnecessarily excessive.” Ruthann Robson discusses the argument at the Constitutional Law Prof Blog.

Yesterday the justices issued orders from Friday’s conference, adding four cases to their merits docket for next term. Amy Howe covers the order list for this blog, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court. At Bloomberg, Greg Stohr reports that in Kansas v. Garcia, the court “will consider letting states prosecute undocumented immigrants for identity theft if they use someone else’s Social Security number to apply for a job, agreeing to take up what could be a polarizing fight.” Robert Barnes reports for The Washington Post that the justices will also review the life-without-parole sentences of convicted Beltway sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, noting that since Malvo, who was 17 when he and John Allen Muhammad committed 10 murders in the Washington, D.C. area, was sentenced, “the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on juvenile murderers has changed.”

For The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin reports that the justices will “consider whether two pillars of criminal law—the insanity defense and the rule that only unanimous juries may convict—are required by the Constitution.” At the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, Ruthann Robson looks at the grant in Ramos v. Louisiana, in which the court will decide whether the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a unanimous jury in a criminal case applies to the states. For the Los Angeles Times, David Savage reports that the petitioner in Kahler v. Kansas “argues that the insanity defense is a fundamental aspect of American justice and cannot be restricted or abolished by the states.” Kent Scheidegger discusses all yesterday’s grants at Crime & Consequences.


  • At Reason’s Volokh Conspiracy blog, Jonathan Adler maintains that “[w]hether or not televising arguments is a good way to meet … demands [for greater access to the Supreme Court’s proceedings], there is little reason for the Court not to release audio of arguments and opinion hand-downs on the same day that they occur.”
  • At SCOTUS OA, Tonja Jacobi and Matthew Sag expand on the results of their study of laughter during Supreme Court oral arguments, concluding that “judicial humor at the Supreme Court is often very much about dominance and hierarchy.”
  • At Bloomberg, Greg Stohr reports that the “Supreme Court gets a chance to join the fray over Special Counsel Robert Mueller for the first time this week as the justices consider whether to hear an appeal in a mystery case that’s kept people guessing for months” – an appeal “filed by an unidentified foreign government-owned company in a fight over a grand jury subpoena.”
  • In the latest episode of SCOTUStalk (podcast), Amy Howe talks to former Assistant to the Solicitor General Sarah Harrington about life in the SG’s office.
  • In an op-ed at Fox News, Kelly Shackleford weighs in on The American Legion v. American Humanist Association, an establishment clause challenge to a World War I memorial shaped like a cross on public property, arguing that “[t]he purpose of the Establishment Clause for the majority of our republic’s history has been to prevent the government from coercing the religious belief or behavior of its citizens, not purge religious symbols from the public square.” [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 The Atlantic, Garrett Epps looks at 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.
  • For The New York Times, Adam Cohen reviews Joan Biskupic’s “assiduously reported and briskly written biography” of Chief Justice John Roberts.

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 19, 2019, 7:03 AM),