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Monday round-up

This morning the justices return to the bench for the February argument session. First on the agenda is the oral argument in U.S. Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, involving the power of the Forest Service to grant rights of way through lands traversed by the Appalachian Trail. Noah Sachs previewed the case for this blog. Philip Duggan and Kaitlyn Marasi have a preview at Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. At Subscript Law, Mariam Morshedi provides a graphic explainer for the case.

For The Washington Post (subscription required), Gregory Schneider and Robert Barnes report that “[t]he high court’s ruling could determine the fate of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a controversial project that has drawn national attention from environmentalists.” In an op-ed for The New York Times, Will Harlan calls the case a “a clash between two visions for our country: a fossil-fueled future, or a more sustainable economy based on renewables.” To the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), it is “one more example of what ails America in the age of the runaway administrative state.” The Washington Legal Foundation blog hosts a written debate on the merits of the case. [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is counsel on an amicus brief in support of the respondents in this case.]

Today’s second argument is in Opati v. Sudan, which asks whether the current version of the terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act allows punitive damages for preenactment conduct. Amy Howe had this blog’s preview, which first appeared at Howe on the Court. Julia Canzoneri and Angela Shin Wei Ting preview the case for Cornell.

On Friday, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 5-4, granted the Trump administration’s request to allow it to enforce an expansion of the “public charge” rule, which prevents immigrants who are deemed likely to rely on public assistance from receiving green cards, in Illinois while litigation plays out in the lower courts. Amy Howe covers the order for this blog, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court.  Ariane de Vogue reports at CNN that “[l]ast month, a 5-4 court greenlighted the … rule across the country except for Illinois, because the state was governed by a separate judicial order[; n]ow, while litigation continues, the rule will be in effect nationwide.” Robert Barnes reports for The Washington Post (subscription required) that “[u]nder the new policy, immigrants would be suspect if they are in the United States legally and use public benefits — such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance — too often or are deemed likely to someday rely on them.” For The New York Times, Adam Liptak reports that “[t]he new order drew a scathing dissent from Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who said the Trump administration had become too quick to run to the Supreme Court after interim losses in the lower courts.” At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern maintains that the dissent “calls out—with startling candor—a distressing pattern: The court’s Republican appointees have a clear bias toward the Trump administration.” Additional commentary comes from Ian Millhiser at Vox.


  • For The New York Times, Timothy Williams reports that a pending ruling in Ramos v. Louisiana, in which the justices will decide whether the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a unanimous jury applies to the states, “is expected to decide the future of split juries in Oregon, and perhaps the fate of people already convicted with divided juries.”
  • Kevin Rector reports for The Baltimore Sun that “[a] once segregated West Baltimore school where future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall received his early education is set to receive a $6 million makeover, turning it into a legal resource center and museum space for the surrounding community.”
  • At E&E News, Pamela King catches up on the court’s environmental docket, highlighting “what to expect before the Supreme Court closes out its term.”
  • In a new episode of the Heritage Foundation’s SCOTUS 101 podcast, “Elizabeth Slattery and Tiffany Bates talk about upcoming SCOTUS arguments and the release of Justice Scalia’s papers.”
  • At the Duke Law Journal, Andrew Gould analyzes the justices’ debut majority opinions on the court since the Founding, concluding that although “[h]istorically, a Justice’s debut is a moment destined to be forgotten,” “such a fate is not inevitable”: “[A] number of Justices debuted in cases influential to procedure and constitutional law.”
  • At Human Events, Will Chamberlain weighs in on Google v. Oracle America, a dispute over the copyright status of application programming interfaces, arguing that “What Google did here isn’t fair use[:] Instead of licensing code they did not write, they copied it, and dared Oracle to litigate.” [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the petitioner in this case.]
  • At NYU School of Law’s Compliance & Enforcement blog, Daniel Walfish looks at the “legal backdrop” of Liu v. Securities and Exchange Commission, which asks whether the SEC can seek disgorgement of profits as a remedy for violating the securities-fraud laws, along with “some of the ways the Court could decide it[] and some of its potential consequences.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Monday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Feb. 24, 2020, 7:05 AM),