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Petitions of the week: Capital punishment, sex discrimination, Trump’s Twitter and more

This week we highlight recent cert petitions that ask the Supreme Court to weigh in on an obsolete sentencing practice for the death penalty, the extent of Title IX’s protections against sex discrimination, and President Donald Trump’s use of Twitter. In McMillan v. Alabama, an inmate on death row wants the court to review the constitutionality of his death sentence, which was imposed by a judge after the jury voted 8-4 for life imprisonment. A judicial override procedure for death sentences was legal in Alabama at the time of McMillan’s sentencing but has since been abandoned. In Bose v. Bea, a former Rhodes College student asks the court to clarify the extent to which the college is liable under Title IX for expelling her based on accusations from a professor that she alleges were false and motivated by sex discrimination. And in Trump v. Knight First Amendment Institute, the president wants the court to reverse a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit finding that Trump violates the First Amendment when he blocks his critics on Twitter.

These and other petitions of the week are below the jump:

Williams v. United States
Issue: Whether, to conduct a warrantless forensic search of a digital device at the border, government agents need reasonable suspicion that the device contains digital contraband (as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit requires), reasonable suspicion that the device contains evidence of a particular crime with a nexus to the purposes of the border-search exception to the warrant requirement (as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit requires), reasonable suspicion of any kind of criminal activity (which suffices in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit), or no suspicion whatsoever (as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit permits).

City of Austin v. Paxton
Issue: Whether, under Ex parte Young, a state official is a proper defendant in a federal declaratory judgment challenge under the supremacy clause to the validity of a self-enforcing state statute, if the official with authority to enforce the statute has not yet overtly threatened enforcement.

Harris v. Maryland
Issue: Whether, when preindictment delay has caused actual prejudice to the accused’s ability to defend himself, the due process clause requires that the defendant prove that the delay was driven by an improper prosecutorial motive, or that courts balance the particular prejudice to the defendant against the particular reasons (or lack thereof) for the delay.

McMillan v. Alabama
Issue: Whether the execution of a person sentenced to death by judicial override violates the Eighth Amendment.

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe v. Tulalip Tribes
Issue: Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in conflict with precedent of the Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, impermissibly narrowed a decades-old judicial decree so as to deprive Native American tribes of their ability to exercise treaty fishing rights.

Trump v. Knight First Amendment Institute
Issue: Whether the First Amendment deprives a government official of his right to control his personal Twitter account by blocking third-party accounts if he uses that personal account in part to announce official actions and policies.

Bose v. Bea
Issue: Whether a school that expels a student based on charges and evidence motivated by sex bias denies that student educational opportunities “on the basis of sex.”

Recommended Citation: James Romoser and Andrew Hamm, Petitions of the week: Capital punishment, sex discrimination, Trump’s Twitter and more, SCOTUSblog (Sep. 10, 2020, 2:26 PM),