Appearing strong as ever, Justice Ginsburg returned to the bench yesterday for the first argument of the February sitting. Sitting more upright – she’s usually hunched over and hard to see – Justice Ginsburg asked the very first question during arguments in Returned Mail, Inc. v. USPS. She continued to participate actively; as The Wall Street Journal’s Jess Bravin tweeted, “RBG Electrifies Courtroom with Questions on Estoppel and Issue Preclusion!”
January has been a bit of a snooze at the Supreme Court but I did get to learn about the Dormant Commerce Clause ( Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers v. Blair ).
There was plenty of other news from the Court today: cert denial in a school prayer case, cert granted in a Second Amendment case to be heard next term, stay grants in a pair of transgender cases, and action on the Mueller mystery grand jury subpoena. But from the bench just one 9-0 opinion from Justice Thomas in a patent case.
Below are some sketches from some of last week’s arguments and opinions. Fingers crossed that Justice Ginsburg will be back on the bench after the mid-winter break.
Justice Ginsburg was absent from the bench this week, recovering from recent surgery. She will continue to work from home next week, participating in the cases argued through transcripts and the briefs. Her odds of making a full recovery are good, and I’m looking forward to seeing her back on the bench for the February sitting.
No blockbusters this week. I sketched three of the arguments, one each day. Monday’s focused on whether the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act applies to law firms acting as “debt collector” in nonjudicial foreclosures; exciting stuff.
Of more interest, at least to this sketch artist, and something I could make into a SCOTUSblog banner was Tuesday’s Indian treaty argument.
Several members of the Crow Tribe were present in the courtroom to for the arguments in Herrera v. Wyoming.
Interesting that Samuel Enemy-Hunter, pictured here in the right background, was allowed to wear tribal head-dress in the courtroom while in November, when Carpenter v. Murphy was argued, court personnel made an official of the Muscogee Creek Nation remove his.
And finally, I had no idea that Wednesday’s argument, Franchise Tax Board of California v. Hyatt, was such a big deal but evidently for constitution nerds, whom I admire, this case is their meat and potatoes.
Answer: an exception to the double-jeopardy rule.
Here are a few sketches from Thursday’s argument in Gamble v. United States where Terance Gamble challenges his prosecution and conviction for the same offense in both state and federal court despite the Fifth Amendment’s rule that no “person [shall] be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.”
On Monday the justices heard argument over whether an antitrust lawsuit brought by iPhone users unhappy that apps may only be purchased through the Apple store can move forward. Apple claims it does not have a monopoly because it is the app developers who set the prices.
Tuesday saw argument about who owns Oklahoma brought by members of the Muscogee Creek Nation.
Wednesday’s only case was about seizure of assets upon criminal conviction in state court and whether that violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on excessive fines.
Just posting November’s SCOTUS sketches ( I missed the first couple days, so starting on October 31 ) without comments except to note that the election day SCOTUSblog banner at the end of this post is a work of “artistic license.” We know, from his confirmation hearing testimony, that Justice Kavanaugh does not vote, and I expect that may be the case for other justices as well.