A generally quiet term concluded this week with opinions on two major issues before the Court, election district gerrymandering and the citizenship question on the 2020 census. There’s no question that it is now the Roberts Court with the Chief Justice replacing now retired Justice Kennedy as the deciding swing vote. Roberts wrote the opinions in both of the term’s blockbusters, siding with the conservatives on gerrymandering, but joining, at least in part, the liberal justices on the census question.
Here are some sketches from this last week. More sketches from the term are posted in my archive. I’m off to Ireland for a two week vacation so any print orders will have to wait until the end of July. Have a great summer!
With the first Monday in October the Supreme Court began a new term, now with a full bench.
I missed Monday’s sitting because I was instead sent to sketch opening statements in the trial of accused Benghazi mastermind Ahmed Abu Khatallah. But the first big argument, a gerrymandering case concerning Wisconsin’s electoral district map, came on Tuesday.
Arnold Schwarzenegger even showed up for the gerrymandering argument !
Wednesday’s first argument, District of Columbia v. Wesby, was about whether police had probable cause to arrest partygoers using a vacant home. The house party in question, organized by someone named Peaches, was described as “raucous” and included “stripping, drinking, and marijuana smoking.”
The facts behind the case made for an entertaining argument. We even learned a little bit about Justice Kagan’s younger days.
Justice Kagan: . . .there are these parties that, once long ago, I used to be invited to - where you didn’t - don’t know the host, but you know Joe is having a party. And can I say that long, long ago, marijuana was maybe present at those parties?
June is when the Supreme Court releases the last of its opinions in cases argued earlier during the term, especially the harder to decide cases. This term big news on the last day was about a case yet to be argued, when the Court agreed to hear Trump’s travel ban in the next term.
In other Supreme Court news, after announcing the disposition of the remaining cases, and other housekeeping matters, the Chief Justice noted the retirement of Lyle Denniston, a veteran of nearly 60 years covering the Court and known as the dean of the Supreme Court press.
Here are some sketches from the Court’s June opinions. More June sketches are on my online archives.
Chief Justice Roberts announcing disposition of the term’s remaining cases, as well as the travel ban.
Retired USMC General James E. Cartwright, once known as “Obama’s favorite general”, appeared on short notice in a DC courtroom Monday to plead guilty to lying to the FBI. “It was wrong for me to mislead the F.B.I. on Nov. 2, 2012, and I accept full responsibility for this,” General Cartwright told U.S. District judge J. Richard Leon. “I knew I was not the source of the story and I didn’t want to be blamed for the leak. My only goal in talking to the reporters was to protect American interests and lives; I love my country and continue to this day to do everything I can to defend it.”
An investigation into leaks about a joint US – Israeli “Operation Olympic Games” effort to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program through cyberattacks led the FBI to question General Cartwright. A book by New York Times reporter David Sanger, ‘Confront and Conceal’, brought public attention to the covert program and led to congressional investigation.
Menachem Zivotofsky was born in 2002, the same year congress passed the Foreign Relations Authorization Act with a provision that U.S. passports listing the place of birth as Jerusalem should, upon request, also list Israel. Zivotofsky’s parents did just that, and the case had been kicking up and down the courthouse steps for years. Yesterday it concluded with a big win for the President.
It appears that Justice Kennedy’s opinion enshrines a presidential power nowhere mentioned, though implied, in the Constitution, namely recognition of foreign powers. “Recognition is a topic on which the Nation must ‘speak . . . with one voice,’” writes Kennedy. “That voice must be the President’s.”
Justice Scalia, along with Justice Alito and the Chief Justice, dissented. Justice Thomas also dissented in part, making the decision either 6-3, 5-4 0r even 5 ½-3 ½ depending on who you listen to.
The case is Zivotofsky v. Kerry, and you can read about yesterday’s decision here and here.
The plan was for me to join the panel briefly to discuss my experiences at the Supreme Court and Tsarnaev trial and then sketch the rest of the show. News of Beau Biden’s death brought a more somber mood to the show that, along with Secretary of State John Kerry’s bicycling accident, caused me to get bumped from the show. Still, I did this sketch, and got to visit friends in New York.