Briefly Mentioned :

Briefly Noted :

On Monday, the court is expected to release orders from the May 28 conference at 9:30 a.m. There is a possibility of opinions at 10 a.m. We will be live-blogging starting at 9:25 a.m. at this link, where you can sign up for an email reminder when the live blog begins.

This evening the Supreme Court refused to block the execution of Walter Barton, scheduled for 6:00 p.m. CDT. Barton was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for the 1991 killing of Gladys Kuehler. There were no recorded dissents.

If Missouri proceeds with Barton’s execution tonight, it will be the first in the United States since Alabama’s March 5 execution of Nathaniel Woods. At least four executions have been stayed since then due to the coronavirus.


Status Quo Watch

By on May 19, 2020 at 4:52 pm

John Elwood reviews this week’s relists.

If these weeks in lockdown all are beginning to feel the same to you, you’re not alone: The torpor has spread to the relist rolls as well. This week, there was very little movement. There were no new relists. With one exception, all of last week’s relists are back. Most notably, all 10 Second Amendment relists are back, suggesting that the justices are still choosing among them (or perhaps writing an opinion dissenting from denial of cert, although I consider that less likely).

Only one case did not make it back this week: Wexford Health v. Garrett, 19-867, involving whether a prisoner may cure his failure to exhaust administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act by filing an amended complaint after his release from prison. The court denied cert, but Justice Clarence Thomas was moved enough to write an opinion dissenting from the denial, acknowledging a circuit split and arguing that the issue “deserves our review.”

That’s all for this week. Tune in Tuesday to see whether the court will be considering one or more potentially blockbuster firearm cases next fall. Until then, stay safe! Continue reading »

Live teleconference oral arguments have been the most visible sign of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Supreme Court, and they have prompted copious coverage and commentary. However, the justices have also been busy with a steady flow of cases arising from the pandemic, mostly in the form of emergency stay requests.

These COVID-19-related cases have covered a broad array of important rights and liberties, from voting practices to abortion services to immigration issues to prison conditions, and they have forced the justices to tackle the difficult health and safety issues facing the nation. In some cases the justices have taken no action, in some they have issued a brief order and in a few they have written opinions. Some actions have been unanimous; others have divided the court. Continue reading »


Editor’s note: This is the first post in a series analyzing the Supreme Court’s telephonic oral arguments with live audio instituted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first week of the Supreme Court’s telephonic oral arguments provided meaningful data points to compare old-style oral arguments with the new framework. These new arguments were not without mishaps, as justices and attorneys attempted to navigate this unfamiliar terrain. Using Supreme Court transcript data and audio recordings, we can examine the changes accompanying this new format with the same methods used to analyze past oral arguments. Most signs point to a favorable evolution, as there was plenty of engagement, including from Justice Clarence Thomas, who has seldom spoken in the past. Still, not everyone in the Supreme Court world was pleased with the new format, as it is clear some of the kinks in the system need to worked out. Continue reading »


Tuesday round-up

By on May 19, 2020 at 7:05 am

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.”

Continue reading »

Posted in Round-up

On Thursday, May 21, at 1:00 p.m. EDT, the Committee for Justice will host a virtual panel on Justice Clarence Thomas and the interplay between his early life and judicial philosophy, in time for this week’s national TV release of the documentary “Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words.” Committee for Justice President Curt Levey will moderate the discussion, led by Erik Jaffe of Schaerr Jaffe, Ralph Rossum of Claremont McKenna College and Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network.

Click here for more information and to RSVP.


No new grants today

By on May 18, 2020 at 2:43 pm

This morning the Supreme Court issued orders from the justices’ private conference last week. The justices did not add any new cases to their argument calendar for next term. Perhaps most significantly, they did not act at all on the 10 gun rights cases that they had considered for a second time at last week’s conference.

The gun rights cases have all been on hold, some for over a year, presumably until the court issued its decision in the challenge to New York City’s ban on the transport of handguns outside the city. The justices dismissed that case as moot at the end of April, and a few hours later the court had distributed the 10 petitions for consideration at the justices’ May 1 conference. The justices normally only grant review after they have considered a petition at two consecutive conferences, so it was no surprise that they did not act on the petitions when they issued orders on May 4. There’s no way to know whether the justices are still trying to choose among the petitions, have not yet decided what to do or have some other reason for waiting to act on the petitions. Continue reading »

It has been over two decades since al Qaeda operatives detonated bombs outside the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing over 200 people and injuring thousands more. The victims and their family members later filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., seeking to hold Sudan responsible for its role in providing support for al Qaeda. The trial court awarded them billions of dollars, but a federal appeals court cut that award in half. It ruled that the plaintiffs could not recover punitive damages from Sudan because Congress did not authorize such damages until 10 years after the bombings. Today the Supreme Court unanimously (with Justice Brett Kavanaugh recused) threw out that ruling, setting the stage for billions of dollars in punitive damages to be reinstated. Continue reading »

We live-blogged on Monday, May 18, as the court released orders from the May 15 conference and its opinion in Opati v. Sudan. SCOTUSblog is sponsored by Casetext, the most intelligent way to search the law.


Monday round-up

By on May 18, 2020 at 6:17 am

At ABC News, Devin Dwyer collects mostly positive reviews of the court’s recent livestreamed telephonic arguments, reporting that “[t]he coronavirus pandemic introduced America to its Supreme Court in action, and millions had reason to be riveted by what they heard.” At AP, Jessica Gresko offers “five things to know about the recent telephone arguments.”


  • At CNBC (via How Appealing), Tucker Higgins reports that “[t]he Supreme Court is looking eager to weigh in on the Second Amendment weeks after it punted on its first substantial gun rights case in nearly a decade[:] Ten different guns cases were on the agenda of the justices’ private conference on Friday, where they met to decide which cases they will hear in the upcoming term.”

Continue reading »

Posted in Round-up
More Posts: More Recent PostsOlder Posts
Term Snapshot
At a Glance