Blog Archives

The Fabulist Justice Scalia

SC120524sketch_Scalia
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.

 

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , ,

Violent Videos and Arizona Campaign Finance

SC110627_Scalia
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.

SC110627_Roberts
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. SC110627_Kagan
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.

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , , ,

Class Action and Global Warming

As the Supreme Court comes into the final stretch of the term opinions on some of the eagerly awaited bigger cases are coming down.  SC110620_Scalia

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.

SC110620_Ginsburg

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.

 

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Narrow Ruling on Material Witness Law

SC110531_Scalia
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.

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , , ,

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.

 

 

 

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , , ,

Sometimes a Funny Court

A few chuckles at the Court yesterday ( see Dahlia Lithwick’s story in Slate ), so I thought I’d post a couple doodles I did as the Justices announced their opinions.

SC130301sketch_Scalia

 

In his opinion in Staub v. Proctor Hospital Justice Scalia said it was a “cat’s paw case”.

He was quoting the Seventh Circuit’s Judge Posner, but the reference is to a fable by Jean de La Fontaine.

SC130301sketch_Roberts

And Chief Justice Roberts, to explain why the Court unanimously found that AT&T does not posses personal privacy, even if it is a person, cited the distinct meanings of “corn” and “corny”, and “crank” and “cranky” ( see “Crafty Craft & Squirrel Squirrels” ).  He concluded his opinion by saying, “We trust that AT&T will not take it personally”.

For the record, Justice Scalia does not posses a cat’s paw and the Chief Justice did not hold up an ear of corn. 

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , ,

Scalia Delivers Unanimous Opinion

SC100224_Scalia

In an exception to it’s 1981 decision in Edwards v. Arizona where the court found that once a suspect asks for a lawyer police may not come back after a “break in custody” and resume the questioning if the suspect then waives his Miranda rights. In today’s opinion the court found that if the interval between interrogations is substantial Edwards does not suppress a confession.

Justice Scalia’s opinion is here.

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: ,
2013_Blawg100Honoree_300x300
TWITTER @courtartist

Blog Updates

Enter your name and email below to receive blog updates via email.