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Wednesday round-up

At The George Washington Law Review’s On the Docket blog, Ralph Steinhardt discusses Jam v. International Finance Corporation, in which the court held that international organizations have the same immunity from lawsuits that foreign countries currently have and can therefore be sued in U.S. courts for their commercial activities, suggesting that the case “may be understood as a continuation of the effort to hold intergovernmental organizations accountable for violations of international law, without relying on their internal watchdogs.” At Law360 (subscription required), James Berger explains why “Jam effects a sea change in the legal posture of international organizations before U.S. courts.”

In an op-ed at The Daily Signal, Michael Berry maintains that “[t]he Supreme Court is the last hope for preserving the Bladensburg World War I Memorial” in The American Legion v. American Humanist Association, an establishment clause challenge to a memorial shaped like a cross on public property, and “[i]t may also be the last hope for returning the First Amendment to its original intent and meaning.” At The Harvard Law Review Blog, Luke Goodrich advocates “a historical approach” to the case that “is not only more objective and administrable than the alternatives, it is more faithful to the underlying purpose of the Religion Clauses—which is to leave religion as untouched by government power as possible.” [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 “[t]he high-stakes fight now unfolding in the Supreme Court over the 2020 census [in Department of Commerce v. New York], testing whether everyone in America should be asked about their citizenship, is now intensifying into a major constitutional controversy.”
  • At NBC News, Pete Williams looks at Iancu v. Brunetti, in which the court will consider whether a ban on the registration of “immoral” or “scandalous” trademarks that led the government to refuse to trademark a “brand name [that] was phonetically equivalent to the past tense form of the universally known f-word” violates the First Amendment.
  • At SCOTUS OA, Tonja Jacobi and Matthew Sag discuss data from their recent paper on laughter at Supreme Court oral arguments, arguing that laughter can be used to predict case outcomes because “for the most part, the justices use courtroom humor intentionally and strategically.”
  • In an op-ed for The New York Times, Jonathan Metzl weighs in on New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York, a challenge to New York City’s limits on transporting personal firearms that will be heard next term, arguing that the case “has implications far broader than sport shooting,” and that “[i]f the court decides against the city, New York City and other cities around the country could become far more dangerous places.”
  • At Empirical SCOTUS, Adam Feldman analyzes the justices’ frequency in the majority over time, concluding that “[w]hatever led to the past high level of consensus no longer holds quite as true.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Wednesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 13, 2019, 6:55 AM),