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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.

SCOTUS, June 23, 2011, Thomas
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.


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Release Valve Opened on Prison Overcrowding

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 ). SC110523sketch_Kennedy
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. SC110523sketch_Scalia

Andrew Cohen has written about the Court’s decision and the long simmering issue of growing prisoner population here.




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Taxpayers Lose Standing

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.SC110404_Kennedy

In reading the opinion of the Court, Justice Kennedy said the taxpayers lacked “standing“.

Bloomberg has story here.

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New Constitutional Right for Juveniles


In an opinion announced today by Justice Kennedy the Supreme Court prohibits the sentencing of juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole if the crime does not involve murder.  What this means for the 129 prisoners in state and federal penitentiaries convicted as minors and sentenced to life w/o parole is a chance to show that they are “fit to rejoin society”, but no guarantee that they will ever be freed.  And from now on every juvenile convicted of a “non-homicide” crime may not be sentenced to life at the outset, but must have the possibility of release; they can still be sentenced to a very long term guaranteeing their incarceration into old-age.

WaPo story here.

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“Partial birth” abortion ban


In an opinion by Justice Kennedy (on the left in sketch) the Supreme Court today upheld the federal ban on certain late-term, so-called “partial birth”, abortions.  Justice Ginsberg (right) read her dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Stevens, Souter and Breyer.

Washington Post story here.

Lyle Denniston has an in depth post on ScotusBlog here.

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , ,

SCOTUS goes green


In one of two cases decided in favor of environmentalists yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA needs to start regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

Justice Kennedy read the opinion for Justice Stevens who was absent.

Washington Post story is here.

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , ,
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