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Thursday round-up

Court-watchers offer their assessments of the late Justice John Paul Stevens’ legacy. At Education Week’s School Law Blog, Mark Walsh reports that “in dozens of education cases in his more than 34 years on the court,” Stevens “was a voice for student rights, racial equality, and a high wall of separation between church and state.” Ellen Gilmer focuses on Stevens’ ”robust environmental legacy that affects federal climate action and agency litigation to this day” at E&E News. At In Defense of Liberty, Timothy Sandefur remarks that Stevens’ “earlier years on the Court, his rulings were marked by a healthy skepticism toward the danger of overarching government.” Chris Geidner writes in an op-ed for The New York Times that in his dissenting opinions in Bowers v. Hardwick and Texas v. Johnson, Stevens recognized “the importance of seeking to understand others’ experiences and of understanding that our own experiences inevitably shape the way we see the world.” Additional analysis and commentary comes from James Hohmann for The Washington Post; Jane Schacter and Pamela Karlan at Stanford Law School’s Legal Aggregate blog, here and here; Deborah Pearlstein at TPM Café; and Richard Hasen at Slate, who maintains that Stevens’ controlling opinion for the court in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board upholding an Indiana voter-ID law now “looks like a brilliant tactical move that saved the country from a much worse decision that would have given a green light to restrictive voting laws across the country.”


  • At The Economist’s Democracy in America blog, Steven Mazie writes that “[w]ithin days, America’s highest court will weigh in on one of President Donald Trump’s most divisive policies: his plan to build a wall on the southern border.”
  • In an op-ed for The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse asserts that “as the census saga fades from view, it should be remembered, in all its bizarre aspects, not as outlier but as exemplar,” warning that just because “we narrowly avoided one fiasco is no insurance against the next one.”
  • At The New Republic, Matt Ford explains that although “Chief Justice John Roberts closed the door” this term on federal courts as a remedy for partisan gerrymandering, his opinion in Rucho v. Common Cause “accidentally hinted at another way to challenge warped legislative maps on constitutional grounds”: the guarantee clause of the Constitution.
  • According to Harlan Grant Cohen at Just Security, this term’s decision in Gundy v. United States, in which the court affirmed a lower-court judgment holding that Congress properly delegated authority in the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act to the U.S. attorney general to apply the law’s registration requirements, suggests that “[t]he more conservative justices, aligned with the dissent, favor disciplining the administrative state but not the national security president.”
  • At Justia’s Verdict blog, Sherry Colb and George El-Khoury “propose some alternative approaches that might yield the same outcome as” Mitchell v. Wisconsin, in which “[a] majority of justices voted to uphold the admission in evidence of blood-alcohol test results that police obtained after ordering a blood draw without first getting a warrant,” “but with a sounder foundation.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Thursday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Jul. 18, 2019, 6:52 AM),