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Thursday round-up

Yesterday the justices heard argument in Mathena v. Malvo, in which convicted D.C.-area sniper Lee Boyd Malvo is asking the court to overturn his sentence of life without parole for murders committed in Virginia in 2002, when Malvo was 17. Amy Howe has this blog’s argument analysis, which first appeared at Howe on the Court. At Fox News, Barnini Chakraborty and Bill Mears report that the court grappled with “whether Malvo, now 34, should be resentenced in Virginia in light of a pair of recent Supreme Court rulings restricting life-without-parole sentences for crimes committed by juveniles.” Ariane de Vogue reports at CNN that “the justices struggled for more than an hour discussing the impact of their own prior cases as well as the details concerning Virginia’s sentencing scheme.” Audio coverage of the argument comes from Nina Totenberg at NPR. At Quartz, Ephrat Livni argues that “[a] win for Malvo … would bring the harshly punitive American approach a little closer to being in line with the rest of the globe.” At Crime & Consequences, Kent Scheidegger offers his “initial impressions” of the oral argument, and concludes that “[w]ith this many splits among the Justices, there is no predicting the outcome.” Additional commentary on the argument comes from Mark Joseph Stern at Slate (via How Appealing).

Kansas v. Garcia, which asks whether federal immigration law preempts a state prosecution for identity theft based on using someone else’s Social Security number to obtain employment, was also argued yesterday. Andrew Chung reports at Reuters that “[t]he court’s four liberal justices as well as conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a Trump appointee, asked questions that voiced concern that the state’s pursuit of these cases effectively gave it a way to go after unauthorized workers, a role reserved for the federal government.”

Yesterday’s third argument was in Rotkiske v. Klemm, which asks whether the one-year statute of limitations in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is paused until the plaintiff discovers the basis for his lawsuit. At Bloomberg Law, Heather Saltz reports that the justices “sidestepped during oral argument whether the discovery rule applies to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and focused on whether plaintiffs should rely on equitable tolling when the one-year statute of limitations has run.”


  • At The National Law Journal (subscription required), Tony Mauro reports that “[t]he Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday will consider a proposal aimed at improving security for U.S. Supreme Court justices, not just in the United States but abroad as well.”
  • At Bloomberg Law, Kimberly Robinson reports that during yesterday’s oral arguments, “Justice Sonia Sotomayor twice violated the Supreme Court’s new guidance allowing attorneys two minutes of argument time before justices are allowed to jump in to ask questions.”
  • The Annenberg Public Policy Center reports on the results of a recent survey indicating that “[m]ost Americans see the U.S. Supreme Court as a trusted institution,” but identifying “troubling signs in how the Supreme Court and the justices are perceived by the public, suggesting that the distinction between judges and elected politicians is becoming blurred.”
  • At Bloomberg Environment, Sylvia Carignan reports that Montana landowners have told the court that “[f]ederal Superfund law doesn’t stand in the way of [their] request for their own cleanup at a contaminated site,” in Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian.
  • At their eponymous blog, Paisley Currah discusses last week’s oral argument in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in which the court will decide whether federal employment-discrimination law bars discrimination against transgender people, explaining that because it is important “to frame the plaintiff in clear and consistent terms that correspond to their actual lived identity and experience,” “the litigators I’ve spoken to believe it was a mistake to frame Aimee Stephens as ‘insufficiently masculine’ as the primary legal claim in the oral argument.” [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is counsel on an amicus brief in support of respondent Stephens in this case.] 

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Thursday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Oct. 17, 2019, 6:59 AM),