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Tuesday round-up

Yesterday the court issued a unanimous opinion in Opati v. Sudan, holding that the current version of the terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act allows punitive damages for preenactment conduct. Amy Howe analyzes the opinion for this blog, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court. At Bloomberg Law, Kimberly Robinson reports that the ruling “revived a $4.3 billion punitive damage award against Sudan related to the twin al Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998.” Jess Bravin reports for The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) that “[t]he decision comes at a delicate time for relations between the U.S. and Sudan.” At The Washington Free Beacon, Kevin Daley reports that the ruling “will affect dozens of other lawsuits from victims seeking damages for acts of terror in the 1990s and early 2000s.”

The court also released orders from last week’s conference; it did not add any new cases to its merits docket for next term. This blog’s coverage of the order list comes from Amy Howe, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court. Jordan Rubin reports for Bloomberg Law that the justices “rejected three separate appeals involving the increasingly controversial doctrine of ‘qualified immunity,’ which shields law enforcement from liability for alleged rights violations—even egregious ones,” but that “[a]t least 10 other petitions addressing the issue remain pending on the high court’s docket.” For Capitol Media Services (via, Howard Fischer reports that the court “rebuffed Arizona’s request to rule that prosecutors are entitled to multiple attempts to convict someone of first-degree murder even after a jury effectively found the charge has no legal merit.”


  • Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow report for The Washington Post (subscription required) that “congressional lawyers told the Supreme Court on Monday” that “[a] House committee’s investigation of President Trump ‘did not cease with the conclusion of the impeachment trial,’ and it would be stymied if the Justice Department continues to withhold grand jury material.”
  • For The New York Times, Adam Liptak talks to Lyle Denniston, “the dean emeritus of the Supreme Court press corps” and a notable dissenter from the generally positive reception the court’s recent telephonic arguments have received, about Denniston’s objections to the new format.
  • At his eponymous blog, Denniston observes that “later this year, … the Supreme Court will make its first constitutional pronouncement since 1952 on the mechanics of the Electoral College”; “the chances seem slim, however, that it will say anything new that would point to the actual abandonment of that long-running experiment in ‘indirect election.’”
  • Also for the Times, Nicholas Casey reports that “[a]mong certain conservatives, an idea has started to take hold: Could Justice Clarence Thomas ever be the kind of pop-culture icon to his followers that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become to hers?”
  • In an op-ed for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Daniel Cotter discusses last week’s Supreme Court news, including the final oral arguments of the term.
  • At The World and Everything in It (podcast), Mary Reichard unpacks the argument in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, in which the court considered the scope of the “ministerial exception” to federal employment discrimination laws.
  • In an episode of NPR’s Politics podcast, Tamara Keith, Nina Totenberg and others talk about what the Supreme Court may “say about the limits on a president’s ability to forestall investigations into his conduct.”
  • In a episode of Strict Scrutiny (podcast), Leah Litman and Kate Shaw “break down the major arguments in the presidential immunity and subpoena cases.”
  • In an essay available at SSRN, Nicholas Stephanopoulos argues thatRepublican National Committee v. Democratic National Committee, in which the Supreme Court blocked a lower court order extending the deadline for mailing absentee ballots in Wisconsin’s election because of the coronavirus pandemic, shows that “the current Court remains what I have called the anti-Carolene Court, implacably hostile to efforts to vindicate democratic values.”

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Recommended Citation: Edith Roberts, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (May. 19, 2020, 7:05 AM),