A group of Navy lawyers picked the right day, yesterday, to be sworn in to the Supreme Court bar. The first case argued, Levi v. United States, involved a malpractice and medical battery suit against a Navy surgeon. But first, the Court had an opinion to announce that might have touched on Admiralty law, but didn’t.
In Lozman v. Riviera Beach the Supreme Court ruled that a houseboat is not a vessel subject to maritime law. In his opinion Justice Stephen Breyer noted that not every floating structure is a vessel. “To state the obvious, a wooden washtub, a plastic dishpan, a swimming platform on pontoons … or Pinocchio (when inside the whale) are not ‘vessels'”, Breyer said, “even if they are ‘artificial contrivances’ capable of floating, moving under tow, and incidentally carrying even a fair-sized item or two when they do so.”
The Court also heard arguments in a “takings” case, Koontz v. St. Johns River, of which I’ve posted a sketch below.
Not sure why the lawyer for the petitioner looks so happy. According to Lyle the argument did not seem to go his way.
Lyle Denniston’s take on the “takings” case here.
My sketches from the announcement of the Court’s opinion, and dissents, on the Affordable Care Act.
As they took their seats Justice Breyer was smiling; Sotomayor looked glum.
Justice Scalia was actually sitting as far back from Roberts as possible. Forgive the artistic license, but I wanted to get his expression in the frame.
Sketches of the Supreme Court announcing its opinion in Arizona v. U.S. The Court upheld in part and struck down in part Arizona’s law, SB 1070, aimed at curtailing illegal immigration. Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority…..
…..and Justice Scalia dissented.
The Tucson Citizen has the story here.
Reading his opinion in a mortgage-settlement kickback case, Freeman v. Quicken Loans, Justice Scalia went to Aesop’s fables to illustrate a point.
“Aesop’s fable would be just as wryly humorous if the lion’s claim to the entirety of the kill he hunted in partnership with less ferocious animals had been translated into English as the “lion’s portion” instead of the lion’s share,” he wrote.
A couple of sketches from today at the Supreme Court :
The Court heard arguments in two cases where juveniles were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Both prisoners were very ably represented by Bryan Stevenson, pictured above.
The Court also announced opinions in four cases. Pictured below, clockwise from the bottom right, are Justice Sotomayor, Justice Breyer, Justice Kennedy and Justice Ginsburg reading her dissent in Coleman v. Court of Appeals of Maryland.
Citing Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Homer and Dante, as well as Golding’s Lord of the Flies, in his opinion for the majority Justice Scalia said that violent speech, in this case video games, even when directed at children is still protected under the first amendment.
The case is Brown v. Entertainment Merchants.
In another First Amendment case where the speech in question is privately raised campaign money the Court struck down an Arizona law that would provide matching funds to candidates who accept public financing.
“Laws like Arizona’s matching funds provision that inhibit robust and wide-open political debate without sufficient justification cannot stand” wrote Chief Justice Roberts in his majority opinion.
Justice Kagan in her dissent, joined by Justices Ginsberg, Breyer and Sotomayor, and announced from the bench wrote: “Petitioners . . . are making a novel argument: that Arizona violated their First Amendment rights by disbursing funds to other speakers even though they could have received (but chose to spurn) the same financila assistance”. She added, “Some people might call that chutzpah.”
The consolidated cases are Arizona Free Enterprise v. Bennett and McComish v. Bennett.
The Supreme Court announced six opinions today. I have sketches of four of those opinions being read by their authors :
Justice Ginsburg had the the opinions in two cases, Bullcoming v. New Mexico and CSX v. McBride.
Justice Thomas, who turned 63 today, had the opinion in PLIVA Inc v. Mensing.
And Justice Kennedy read his opinion in Sorrell v. IMS Health.
It is beyond the capability of this wretched, inkstained courtartist to understand, much less explain the meaning of all these opinions, so I refer the reader to ScotusBlog.
As the Supreme Court comes into the final stretch of the term opinions on some of the eagerly awaited bigger cases are coming down.
Today Justice Scalia delivered the opinion in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the largest ever class-action suit. Brought by female employees of the retail giant it accused Wal-Mart of sex discrimination in pay and promotion. Not surprisingly Wal-Mart won.
The other opinion on my watch list to come down today, American Electric Power Co. v. Conn., did not get as much attention. In an opinion written by Justice Ginsburg the Court said that the regulation of greenhouse gases is the job of the EPA, and that States cannot make an end run around the Clean Air Act by filling a “public nuisance” claim in federal court.
ScotusBlog’s Lyle Denniston on the global warming case can be found here.
NYT article on Wal-Mart is here.
Justice Sotomayor : “It is beyond dispute that children will often feel bound to submit to police questioning when an adult in the same circumstances would feel free to leave.”
The case is J.D.B. v. North Carolina.
AP story here.
Justice Sotomayor read her opinion for the Court in the patent-law case, Microsoft v. i4i Limited Partnership, which upheld the lower court judgement against the software giant.
The reaction in Redmond? : “Check under the couch cushions and pay them”.
Financial Times story here.