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Monday round-up

For The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin reports that last week’s order temporarily halting 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 “contrasted sharply with the court’s 5-4 vote last month rejecting a similar plea from a Muslim inmate in Alabama.” At The Economist’s Democracy in America blog, Steven Mazie calls the order “something of a surprise” “[g]iven the justices’ recent decision” in the earlier case, which had met with “near-universal condemnation from commentators from left to right.” Robert Barnes reports for The Washington Post that “[t]t’s difficult to say with certainty why” the court reached different results in the two cases, but “the obvious place to start is new Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who seemed to have a change of heart.”

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 he 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.”


  • Adam Liptak reports for The New York Times that the justices will consider next week whether to review the case of a gay death-row inmate who claims that “a biased jury deprived him of a fair trial.”
  • For the ABA Journal, Mark Walsh previews Department of Commerce v. New York, a challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, noting that “a decision is likely to come at or near the end the court’s term in late June, just before the Census Bureau’s deadline to go to the presses.”
  • At Balkinization, Neil Siegel reacts to the description of the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in Joan Biskupic’s recent biography of Chief Justice John Roberts.
  • The latest episode of The Ginsburg Tapes (podcast) focuses on Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, in which then-advocate Ruth Bader Ginsburg “show [ed] how a law purporting to benefit mothers by providing them special benefits actually perpetuated and reinforced the stereotype that men belong at work, and women at home.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Monday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 1, 2019, 6:54 AM),