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Monday round-up

The second week of proceedings in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump concluded last week. At CNN, Joan Biskupic contends that Chief Justice John Roberts, used to “the heavy mantle of public expectations in his role at the middle of an ideologically divided bench,” has thus far “served as a careful steward of Senate procedures and ensured that the impeachment trial did not descend into nastiness.” John Kruzel at The Hill concludes similarly: “Court watchers said that approach was well suited to Roberts, a mild-mannered 65-year-old jurist who famously said judges should simply ‘call balls and strikes’ and who has sought to shield the courts from being unduly politicized.”

On Friday, the Supreme Court released the calendar for its March 2020 oral argument sitting, which will take place from March 23 to April 1. Amy Howe covers the scheduled cases for this blog, in a post that originally appeared at Howe on the Court. At The Hill, John Kruzel reports that the justices will hear argument “in the landmark separation of powers fight over access to President Trump’s financial records” on Tuesday, March 31.

As we approach the 2020 presidential election, the justices’ own political affiliations are coming under increased scrutiny. Jess Bravin reports for the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) that Justice Clarence Thomas, who has “long participated in events sponsored by the Federalist Society,” spoke at one such event on Friday and “questioned a proposed ethics rule that would discourage federal judges from belonging to the conservative Federalist Society and its liberal counterpart, the American Constitution Society.” In an op-ed for Bloomberg Law, Gabe Roth argues that “at a time when justices’ associations are coming under greater scrutiny,” the justices should go one step further and renounce their registration with any political party.


  • At The Economist (subscription required), Steven Mazie observes that the Supreme Court, “often…a friendly forum for Donald Trump’s administration when its immigration policies have foundered in the lower courts,” last week by a 5-4 margin “voted to permit a new wealth test for green-card applicants while litigation on the matter continues.”
  • At the SMU Law Review Forum, Eric Mogilnicki and Alexander Schultz discuss a topic they deem lacking from the debate surrounding New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. New York, identifying “numerous historical analogues to the City’s transportation restrictions, most of which were not identified in the briefing.”
  • At Vox, Ian Millhiser explores the recent endorsement by Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer of a proposal to increase the number of justices on the Supreme Court, known as “court packing,” and points out that Steyer “is not the only Democratic presidential candidate who has floated” the measure during the campaign.
  • At The Atlantic, Richard Hasen remembers the decision in Bush v. Gore that decided the 2000 presidential election and portends that, “were the outcome of the 2020 election to fall to the Court, the situation could be far messier, and at stake would be the legitimacy of both the Court and the entire American electoral process.”
  • At Verdict, Michael Dorf considers “how much freedom” Montana has to “level down” – that is, deny benefits to all groups when confronted with allegations of discrimination arising from unequal treatment – “in response to a finding of impermissible discrimination” in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the religious-school-funding dispute argued last month. [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among counsel on an amicus brief in support of the respondents in this case.]

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Recommended Citation: Kalvis Golde, Monday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Feb. 3, 2020, 10:39 AM),