Tag: SCOTUS

Kokesh v. SEC Sketches

Just a couple sketches from today’s very technical argument in Kokesh v. SEC . . .

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Sketches Of Justice Gorsuch’s First Day On The Bench

Justice Gorsuch took his seat on the Supreme Court bench for the first time today, actively questioning lawyers presenting oral arguments.

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Getting Ready For SCOTUS Spring

After a relatively low key and mild February at the Supreme Court the pace promises to quicken as the winds of March pick up and a flurry of cases fall (falls ?) on the docket.

I only sketched two arguments this week, Packingham v. North Carolina about a state law that prohibits registered sex offenders from going on social media sites such as FaceBook . . .

. . . and a very dense, to me at least, case on “subrogation clauses” in insurance policies: Coventry Health Care of Missouri v. Nevils

. . . and an opinion by Justice Kennedy in a racial gerrymandering case, Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections.

Taking advantage of the slow pace I spent most of my time in the courtroom this week preparing for the March and April arguments. My sketches depict fairly accurately the events I witness, but because of deadlines some work has to be done in advance. And so, I set to work on the architecture and other details. The justices are also penciled in in advance. The advantage of graphite pencil is I can make changes at any stage up to the point the watercolor is applied.

 

 

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Election Week At The Supreme Court

With the election of Donald Trump to president and his promise to appoint a new justice in the mold of Justice Scalia it appears that not much will change on the Court in the near future.

On the dreary morning after, visitors to the Supreme Court still lined up on the plaza, members of the bar still gather by the statue of John Mashall, and the justices still took to the bench to hear arguments. The only thing remarkable, and it may mean nothing, was that Justice Ginsburg appeared to be wearing her “dissent jabot.” It’s a kind of collar, not exactly a traditional jabot, with rhinestones that the justice wears when announcing a dissent from the bench. Whether she wore it to make a subtle statement or it was just the first thing she grabbed out of her jabot closet, I don’t know. But I also noticed she wore no  earrings, which, for a justice know for her sense of style, is not usual.

And so, for now, life goes on. Below are my sketches of the week’s arguments.

 

 

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First Arguments In October

Here are sketches from three of the five cases argued in the Supreme Court during this first week of the October 2016 term (wish I hadn’t skipped Tuesday’s bank fraud argument, Shaw v. U.S., and missed Justice Breyer’s Kardashian hypothetical ).

Tuesday’s collateral estoppel double-jeopardy case, Bravo-Fernandez v. U.S. :

Wednesday’s insider trading case, Salman v. U.S. :

. . . and the Texas racial bias in death penalty arguments in Buck v. Davis :

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. . . And Then There Were Eight

A new seating order in the Court as the Justices returned to the bench today for arguments in two cases. Since Justice Scalia was the most senior, and since the Associate Justices are seated in order of seniority, all except the Chief had a new position on the bench. When a new Justice is eventually confirmed and sworn he or she will be seated on the far right next to Justice Sotomayor.

Sotomayor recused herself from today’s second argument, RJR Nabisco, Inc. v. The European Community, leaving only seven Justices on the bench. And the second case to be argued tomorrow, on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, will also be one Justice short with Alito recused.

 

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Abortion Returns To The Supreme Court

It’s been ten years since the Court last heard arguments on abortion, coincidentally the same amount of time Justice Thomas maintained his silence during arguments until he asked several questions from the bench earlier this week. Dashing some expectations he posed no questions during today’s argument.

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is an appeal of a Texas law that places requirements on abortion clinics so excessive that many are forced to close. Much has been written about the case so I’ll just post my sketches and point the reader to Lyle Denniston’s post on SCOTUSblog.

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Thomas Finally Asks A Question . . and another . .

“Ms Eisenstein, one question,” intoned the deep voice of Justice Thomas this morning just as Assistant Solicitor Ilana Eisenstein was concluding her argument. That marked the end of Thomas’ ten year record of not asking questions during oral arguments. He went on to pepper the lawyer with a dozen more questions, perhaps to make up for the absence of Justice Scalia, his recently deceased neighbor on the bench.

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Farewell Justice Scalia

Justice Scalia’s chair and that part of the bench where he sat were draped in black cloth as a memorial today when the remaining eight Justices assembled to hear arguments. The memorial will remain in place for thirty days after which the seating of the Justices will be rearranged in order of seniority.

Chief Justice Roberts gave a brief tribute to saying, “Justice Scalia devoted nearly 30 years of his life to this Court in service to the Country he so loved.”

I came across my last sketch of Justice Scalia done on January 20, which it turns out was also his last day on the bench. He delivered the opinion in Kansas v. Carr. Scalia’s last dissent was in an opinion announced on January 25, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission v. Electric Power Supply Association, but the Justice was not on the bench that day.

Then it was on to the first of two arguments heard this morning, Kingdomware Technologies v. U.S.

 

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The Long and Short of Prison Beards

Arkansas prisons limit the length of inmates’ beards to a quarter inch. One of those inmates, a Muslim whose faith requires a full beard, tried to compromise by only growing his beard to a half inch but that was still too long for the warden. Contraband might be concealed in the half-inch beard, or the inmate could change his appearance to evade detection by shaving the beard.

None of those arguments were even considered plausible by the justices when the case, Holt v. Hobbs, was argued today. Justice Alito suggested using a comb on the beard “to see if a SIM card – or a revolver – falls out.” And Scalia asked why not take a photo of the inmate before he grows the beard?

“You’re really just making your case too easy”, the chief justice told petitioner’s lawyer, Douglas Laycock pictured above.

Arkansas Deputy Attorney General David A. Curran didn’t have much to show why the courts should defer to the bureau of prisons.

All bets are that the Court votes 9-0; not even close to a close shave.

 

 

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