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.
In his opinion for the Court finding that former Attorney General John Ashcroft could not be sued for improper use of the material witness law in the detention of Abudulla al-Kidd, onetime University of Idaho football star, born Lavoni T. Kidd, Justice Scalia wrote :
“Qualified immunity gives government officials breathing room to make reasonable but mistaken judgments about open legal questions, when properly applied it protects all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.
“Ashcroft deserves neither label.”
In a unanimous decision the Justices did not rule on the Fourth Amendment issue of unreasonable search and seizure, an area that acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal barely touched on during oral arguments in March.
The case is Ashcroft v. al-Kidd.
Lyle Denniston’s take on SCOTUSblog is here.
In the first of Arizona’s recently enacted laws aimed at curbing illegal immigration the Supreme Court supported the rights of states to pass laws such as the Legal Arizona Workers Act which withdraws licensing from businesses that employ illegals.
The opinion, written by Chief Justice Roberts, turned on whether the Arizona law is a “licensing law” that escapes the federal preemption doctrine.
The case is Chamber of Commerce, et al. v. Whiting, et al.
Another Arizona law, one that gives police the authority to detain and arrest anyone suspected of being an unlawful alien, is working it’s way to the Supreme Court.
Andrew Cohen writes about all of it here.
The Supreme Court today upheld the release of over 30,000 prisoners in California as one remedy for overcrowding. Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion in the bitterly divided, 5-4, case : Brown v. Plata ( formerly Schwarzenegger v. Plata when argued November 30, 2010 ).
As is becoming more common in cases where there is sharp disagreement Justice Scalia read his pungent – adjective stolen from NYT’s Liptak – dissent from the bench as Kennedy – on the right below – stared straight ahead.
Andrew Cohen has written about the Court’s decision and the long simmering issue of growing prisoner population here.
In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court today ruled that ordinary citizens cannot challenge an Arizona program that gave a dollar-for-dollar credit to taxpayers who donated to a School Tuition Organizations, or STOs, which in turn direct money to religious activities.
In reading the opinion of the Court, Justice Kennedy said the taxpayers lacked “standing“.
Bloomberg has story here.