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Alito’s Day, But Ginsburg Has The Last Word

There was a long line and demonstrators, both pro-choice and pro-life (though no pro or anti-union for the Harris case that I could see) outside the Supreme Court this morning on the last decision day of the term.

Inside the courtroom the press was there in full force; retired Justice Stevens was seated on the opposite side in the VIP section; the section for members of the bar never quite filled up, but there were plenty of spectators.

The bleached faux-hawk in the public section caught my attention. I was told these visitors are teachers attending the Supreme Court Summer Institute.

Justice Alito had both opinions for the last day, Hobby Lobby and Harris v. Quinn. He started with Harris in which the Court ruled that “partial public employees” such as homecare  workers paid under Medicaid that do not belong to the union representing public employees do not have to pay a fee to the union to support collective bargaining.

Alito’s second opinion, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, drew the most attention. The decision gives for-profit family owned corporations the same rights as persons under The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) which prohibits “Government [from] substantially burden[ing] a person’s exercise of religion . . ” Two family owned Christian businesses, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialities appealed under RFRA because they objected to the requirement under Obamacare that cover the costs of certain contraceptives for their employees.

Justice Ginsburg dissented. “The court forgets that religious organizations exist to serve a community of believers,” she wrote. “For-profit corporations do not fit that bill.”

 

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Sketches of Two Opinions

The Supreme Court is now in that final stretch of the October 2013 Term when it remains, after all cases have been argued, to issue opinions before recessing at the end of June. Today the Court announced its decisions in four cases, two of which I sketched below.

Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion in Hall v. Florida, ruling that an IQ score one point above the threshold should not be enough to make someone eligible for the death penalty.

And in a case where the Secret Service was sued for moving protesters opposed to President Bush further away than another group supporting the president the Court sided with the Secret Service. Justice Ginsburg had the opinion in Wood v. Moss.

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Today’s Sketches

No single big story at the Supreme Court today. That will come tomorrow when the Court hears the first abortion argument it has considered in several years regarding the buffer zone around clinics in Boston. So tune in tomorrow.

In the meantime here a today’s sketches of one opinion, delivered by Justice Ginsburg, and the two morning arguments (there was a third argument in the afternoon – unusual these days – but I didn’t attend).Justice Ginsburg announced the opinion of the Court that Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, could not be sued in California under the Alien Tort Act for crimes committed by its Argentinian subsidiary during that country’s “Dirty War”. I covered the arguments here.

The first argument, Executive Benefits v. Arkinson, about whether the power granted bankruptcy judges violates Article III of the constitution went in one ear and out the other, so you’ll have to read about it here. Same thing with the next argument, Brandt Revocable Trust v. U.S., although I did catch that it might have something to do with “Rails to Trails” and the possibility that someone might ride a bicycle through your house. SCOTUSblog’s Lyle Denniston recaps the argument here.

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Supreme Court Waters Down Voting Rights Act

A 5-4 divided Court today struck down a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, effectively putting the burden on victims of voter descrimination to seek relief. Chief Justice Roberts wrote for a majority that included Justices Thomas, Scalia, Kennedy and Alito.In a dissenting opinion joined by Justices Sotomayor, Breyer and Kagan, Justice Ginsburg wrote, “Hubris is a fit word for today’s demolition of the Voting Rights Act”.

Lyle Denniston’s take on the opinion is here.

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Fisher Fails to Finish ‘Firmative Action

On the first day of what promises to be a steamy week in Washington, at least outside the Supreme Court building, the Court announced its opinion in a long awaited affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas. When the case was argued back in October it appeared that the University’s use of race as an admissions factor might be struck down.Instead, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy, the Court said such programs must meet the test of “strict scrutiny” as well as being“narrowly tailored”.

Surprisingly, for a case argued at the beginning of the term, there was but one dissenter in the 7-1 decision (Justice Kagan took no part), Justice Ginsburg.

 “The Court rightly declines to cast off the equal protection framework …”, writes Ginsburg. “Yet it stops short of reaching the conclusion that (it) warrants.”

Justice Alito took a sip from his coffee cup.

 

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Coming Into The Backstretch …

… only 28 cases remain undecided.Justices Ginsburg's opinionDashing hopes of a long awaited decision on the affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas, argued last October the Court today announced only two opinions of less interest. At least they weren’t unanimous.

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Justice Ginsburg Forgoes the Jabot

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One thing a sketch artist at the Supreme Court needs to look for is whether Justice Ginsburg is wearing a jabot or one of her increasingly large doilies around her neck. Today, for the first time I can recall, she wore neither. She appeared to be wearing a sparkly necklace of dark crystals. I couldn’t quite make it out.

The above sketch is from the Title VII case argued today, Vance v. Ball State University.

Below are a couple of sketches from the other case argued dealing with federal antitrust law and Georgia’s state health care system, FTC v. Phoebe Putney Health System. Note again, Ginsburg sans jabot.
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Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: , , , ,

The Supreme Court’s Health Care Opinion

My sketches from the announcement of the Court’s opinion, and dissents, on the Affordable Care Act. 6a00d8341cd0df53ef017742d379be970d-800wi

As they took their seats Justice Breyer was smiling; Sotomayor looked glum.

6a00d8341cd0df53ef017742d37ccf970d-piJustice 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. 6a00d8341cd0df53ef016767f89831970b-800wi

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Opinions and Arguments

A couple of sketches from today at the Supreme Court :

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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. SC120320_justices

 

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Today’s Opinion Sketches

The Supreme Court announced six opinions today.  I have sketches of four of those opinions being read by their authors : SC110623_Ginsburg

Justice Ginsburg had the the opinions in two cases, Bullcoming v. New Mexico and CSX v. McBride.

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Justice Thomas, who turned 63 today, had the opinion in PLIVA Inc v. Mensing.

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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.

 

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