On Wednesday the Justices heard arguments in the last two scheduled cases of the term. Between now and the end of June they will take the bench only to announce opinions, and possibly for the ceremonial investiture of Justice Gorsuch.
The first argument, Sandoz v. Amgen, an exceedingly complex case on a provision of the Affordable Care Act that covers biosimilar drugs.
The second argument, Maslenjak v. U.S., raised concerns, especially for Chief Justice Roberts, about prosecutorial overreach. The case involves a naturalized citizen who lied on her application and was therefore stripped of her citizenship.
“Some time ago,” Roberts asked the government’s lawyer, “outside the statute of limitations, I drove 60 miles per hour in a 55-miles-per-hour zone. I was not arrested.” “Now you say that if I answered that question no, 20 years after I was naturalized as a citizen, you can knock on my door and say, guess what, you’re not an American citizen after all.”
A pair of civil jurisdiction cases on the next to last argument day of the Supreme Court’s term promised little in the way of news, but for a ringtone that sounded early into the first argument. Cell phones are not permitted in the courtroom, except maybe for the Justices. And sure enough, it was Justice Breyer’s phone that rang.
So that was the news of the day. Here are my sketches from the arguments, Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California and BNSF Railway v. Tyrrell, as well as the opinion in Lewis v. Clarke announced by Justice Sotomayor.
The justices today heard arguments about whether an indigent defendant is entitled to truly independent expert assistance ( McWilliams v. Dunn ), and on the subject of ineffective assistance of counsel ( Davila v. Davis ).
I thought the Court’s newest justice would have a lot to say during arguments in the church-state separation case, Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, heard yesterday. But Justice Gorsuch asked no questions until the very end, and then nothing very pointed.
Just a couple sketches from today’s very technical argument in Kokesh v. SEC . . .
Justice Gorsuch took his seat on the Supreme Court bench for the first time today, actively questioning lawyers presenting oral arguments.
With the Gorsuch confirmation hearings last week and the removal of the North Carolina transgender case from this week’s argument calendar it’s been an unusually quiet March at the Supreme Court. April may be more interesting when, for better or worse, a ninth justice takes the bench.
It’s spring time in February! One needs to be outside, so I’ll just quickly post the sketches from this short President’s week at the Supreme Court.
Monday saw arguments in the cross-border shooting case, Hernandez v. Mesa . . .
. . . and arguments on the EEOC’s subpoena authority in McLane Co. v. EEOC.
On Tuesday my plan to begin work on a couple wide shots of the Court was sidelined when Invanka Trump showed up in the courtroom with her daughter. The need to get the sketch out caused me to miss that day’s argument.
The State of Virginia has joined the case of Aziz v. Trump, and this morning argued for a preliminary injunction before U.S. District Judge Leoni Brinkema. Brinkema came down pretty hard on the DOJ lawyer for not having any evidence to support the travel ban.