Cowpasture! What a great title. And an excuse to put the justices on the Appalachian Trail. United States Forest Service v. Cowpasture River Preservation Association, concerning a proposed natural gas pipeline running under the AT, is also of interest to my wife, a longtime member of one of the Appalachian Trail Conference associated clubs. She also happens to be involved in different gas pipeline lawsuit, this one in Baltimore’s Leakin Park. She was able to get a seat for the argument so I had the rare pleasure of driving into work with Bridget.
There were, of course, other arguments as well as opinions to sketch in this first week of the February sitting, and I sketched a few. But mostly I used my time in the courtroom preparing for next week’s blockbusters on abortion and the CFPB.
Chief Justice Roberts started his second job last Tuesday, presiding over the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump which on the first day when into the wee hours of the next. Nevertheless, after what must have been a tedious employ, Roberts appeared rested and engaged Wednesday morning when the Court heard argument in a significant establishment clause case, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. The case began when parents sued the state revenue department after it ruled that tax credit scholarship programs could not be used for religious schools, which the majority of recipients were. The Montana Supreme Court invalidated the entire program, for both religious and secular schools. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who favors a similar federal tax credit program, was in the audience.
On Tuesday, before heading over to the Senate for that first, long day, I did just one sketch of the 10:00 o’clock Armed Career Criminal Act argument, Shular v. United States.
Note, the original version of this post mysteriously vanished without a trace so I’ve had to re-create a lesser version.
The case that drew the most attention during last week’s arguments was one brought by a former ally of New Jersey governor Chris Christie. The petitioner, Bridget Anne Kelly, a former aide to Gov. Christie, and William Baroni, a former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were convicted of conspiracy and fraud for their part in a scheme to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, NJ for refusing to endorse Christie’s reelection bid. In what came to be known as “Bridgegate”, they and another official, David Wildstein, ordered several lanes to the George Washington Bridge toll plaza closed in 2013 during rush hour causing massive backups. When the scandal came to light it pretty much sank Christie’s 2016 presidential campaign.
As expected, both Kelly and Baroni were in the courtroom for Tuesday’s argument in Kelly v. United States. What nobody expected was that Chris Christie would show, and be seated directly in front of Kelly.
On Monday the Court heard a trademark case, Lucky Brand Dungarees Inc. v. Marcel Fashion Group Inc., and a case related to employee retirement benefits. Thole v. U.S. Bank, N.A..
The Chief Justice drew some laughs Wednesday when, during an argument involving the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Babb v. Wilkie, he asked the following hypothetical, “The hiring person is younger, [and] says, you know, ‘OK, boomer’ … once to the applicant.”
The big case for December, NY State Rifle & Pistol v. City of New York, could fizzle for mootness. New York City restricted the transportation of firearms to within the city limits but that regulation has since been rescinded, and, as several justices pointed out during the argument, the petitioner has got what they asked for.
There were, of course, other important cases argued this month but since I have fallen so far behind in my blog postings I will simply post the sketches and let the viewer search for the details. I know, I’m lazy.
On Tuesday the Justices heard arguments on the Trump administration’s effort to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, and a cross-border shooting case, Hernandez v. Mesa. Here are the sketches.
Naturally a special banner was in order for the World Series champion Washington Nationals. The last time Washington won the Series was 1924 when the Senators beat the New York Giants.
The Court’s November sitting started on Monday with and immigration case, Barton v. Barr, followed by Fourth Amendment case, Kansas v. Glover, about a traffic stop. I didn’t get to sketch Tuesday and Wednesday’s argument as I was in District Court for the Roger Stone trial.