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. . . And Three More Thursday

Opinions in some of the less prominent cases continue to trickle out of the Supreme Court as each day a few more cameras set up outside the court in anticipation of the big ones.

Of the three opinions announced from the bench today the most noteworthy was Lane v. Franks, concerning the First Amendment rights of a community college employee who was fired after testifying at the corruption trial of a state legislator who had been on the community college’s payroll for a no-show position. Justice Sotomayor said public employees should not have to choose between “the obligation to testify truthfully and the desire to avoid retaliation and keep their jobs.”

There are about ten cases still undecided, most of them biggies.

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , ,

California Raisins and Ex Post Facto

No opinions today on any of the big Supreme Court cases everyone has been watching and waiting for, but we did get :SCOTUS opinion: Horne v. Dept. of Agriculture

 Horne v. Department of Agriculture, in which California raisin growers won the right to challenge the constitutionality of regulatory fees…….

….. and Peugh v. United States, where the Court agreed with Marvin Peugh that the longer sentence he received under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines that were revised upward after he committed his crime were an ex post facto violation.Justice Sotomayor: Peugh v. U.S

The Court also announce a third opinion, a class arbitration case, but I didn’t finish the sketch of Justice Kagan ….she sits so far away.

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

Is She Looking At Me ?

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Justice Sotomayor often glances over at the press section during oral arguments. Is she just pondering a legal question, or checking that the sketch artist is getting this?

Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: ,

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

 

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

Children and Miranda

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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.

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , ,

$290 Million Ruling Against Microsoft

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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.

 

Posted in Opinions, Supreme Court Tagged with: , ,

Roberts Court Not So Business Friendly

Until recently the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Roberts has had a reputation of being friendly to business, but in two decisions delivered today the court continues a recent trend of rulings less favorable to business.

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In the first opinion, authored by Justice Sotomayor, a unanimous Court said that stockholders could sue the makers of Zicam nasal spray.

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And in a 6-2 opinion ( Justice Kagan took no part ) Justice Breyer wrote that a worker at a plastics factory was protected from retaliatory actions.

Click here for Robert Barnes’ WaPo article.

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I stuck around to hear/watch arguments in a case,  Borough of Duryea v. Guarnieri, concerning the First Amendment’s petition clause.  Some of the historical precedent cited reached back as far as Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest.   Respondent’s lawyer, Eric Schnapper :  “If you had a problem in England, if the undersheriff took your cow, you could go to the sheriff, but historically, that wasn’t called a petition.  If you went to the king, that was a petition,”

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Now that’s entertainment!

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

This Week Inside SCOTUS

No big stories at the Court this week, but I entertained myself with some quick sketches.

Chemical Carole

Tuesday looked promising with a made-for-TV case about infidelity, revenge and chemical weapons:  Carole Anne Bond was delighted when her best friend became pregnant, but when she learned the her own husband was the father her mood changed.

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She mailed defaced photos to her former BFF, and told her “I’m going to make your life a living hell” and “dead people are going to visit you”.  Then things got serious.  Carole, who worked as a microbiologist, obtained some nasty, and highly toxic, chemicals from work and began to smear them around her victim’s home, including on the mailbox.  The U.S. Postal Service investigated and she was charged under a federal statute implementing the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.

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As usual, the Justices were more interested in the law than in the soap opera, so the arguments focused on whether Ms Bond has standing to bring a 10th Amendment appeal.

The one moment of comic relief came when Justice Alito asked the Justice Dept. lawyer, Michael Dreeben, “Suppose that the petitioner in this case decided to retaliate against her former friend by pouring a bottle of vinegar in the friend’s goldfish bowl?”

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The Silent One

Tuesday also marked the five year anniversary of the last time Justice Thomas asked a question during oral arguments.  During today’s second case,  U.S. v. Tinklenberg, Justice Thomas was intently following the arguments and it seemed to me that he was on the verge of asking a question, but no such luck.  I made the sketch below in anticipation.

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Brandeis: A Life

Tuesday evening The Supreme Court Historical Society hosted a lecture in the courtroom which I attended with my big-time professional history buff niece Leah. Justice Kagan was there to introduce the speaker, winner of the Erwin Griswold Prize Professor Melvin I. Urofsky, author of Louis D. Brandeis: A Life.

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Above is a sketch of the courtroom during the lecture, while below Justice Kagan is pictured introducing Professor Urofsky, seated on the right.

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A Slip On The Ice?

Is Justice Sotomayor foot-injury prone? Remember the cast she wore as she visited Senators before her confirmation hearings?

Sonia Sotomayor

This morning as we waited for the Justices to take the bench, a workman came in carrying an ottoman which he placed under the bench by Justice Sotomayor’s seat.  A few minutes later the Justice hobbled in with the assistance of two aides from the Marshal’s office.

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Dahlia Lithwick’s story on U.S. v. Bond can be found here.

 

 

 

Posted in Supreme Court Tagged with: , , ,

Rhetoric, or Just the Facts, M’am?

It was a lively debate as the Justices considered whether a District Court in California can compel the release of inmates from overcrowded prisons.

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As the lawyer for California began his arguments by raising the specter of “between 36,000 and 45,000 inmates” released into the population Justice Sotomayor asked him to “slow down the rhetoric and give me concrete details”.  But after 80 minutes of arguments from both sides the lawyer, Carter Phillips, said in concluding “I guarantee you that there is going to be more crime and people are going to die on the streets of California.”

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And the prisoners’ lawyer, Donald Specter, got it from Justice Alito : “If this order goes into effect, we will see. We will see, and the people of California will see”.

The case is Schwarzenegger v. Plata

Lyle Denniston’s analysis here.

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

Sotomayor Investiture

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The sketch shows Justice Sotomayor being sworn in at today’s investiture ceremony. Attorney General Eric Holder and Solicitor General Elena Kagan are seated at the table. To the right is President Obama, and Vice-President Biden (I didn’t quite capture a good likeness of Biden). In the left foreground is the chair used by Chief Justice John Marshall in the early 19th century, and  where Sotomayor was seated as the Clerk read her commission.

Posted in History, Supreme Court Tagged with: ,
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