After sketching Justice Ginsburg’s return to the bench on the first day of the Court’s February sitting I wimped out the second day because of a little bit of snow. I’m not nearly as tough as RBG. I’m also way more lazy which is why I’m only now getting it together to lump all the rest of February’s sketches into this one post.
Last week’s argument calendar started off with a First Amendment public-access TV case, Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck . . .
On Tuesday an argument on the constitutionality of a sex-offender law, United States v. Haymond . . .
. . . and lunch.
The big argument of a quiet month came on Wednesday in The American Legion v. American Humanist Association, an establishment clause case over a giant cross shaped WWI memorial in Bladensburg, Md, just outside DC.
Also on Wednesday, Justice Kagan had the opinion in a major death penalty case, Madison v. Alabama.
And, as if we needed further proof that RBG is no slouch, Justice Ginsburg on Monday announced her second and third opinions since returning to the bench, one of which was a case that she participated in through the briefs and argument transcript while recuperating from cancer surgery at home.
After finding Dylann Roof guilty last month in the murders of nine parishioners attending bible study at Charleston’s Emanuel AME church the same jury will now decide whether Roof deserves the death penalty.
During opening statements the government revealed that Roof, in a journal he kept while held at the county jail after killings, wrote, “I would like to make it crystal clear I do not regret what I did, I am not sorry.”
Yet he goes on to ” . . . shed a tear of self-pity for myself.”
Acting as his own lawyer Roof made a three minute opening statement mainly to refute the idea that he acted out of insanity.
As the witnesses took the stand to testify about the loved ones taken from them the atmosphere in the courtroom turned emotional. Very moving testimony from, and about, some very good people.
On Tuesday Justice Ginsburg announced the first opinion of the Court in a double-jeopardy case, Bravo-Fernandez v. U.S., argued on the first day of the term. Ginsburg spoke at length despite a severe hoarseness that made it hard to understand, and naturally that led to some speculation about her health. Once the argument got under way, though, she participated as vigorously as usual.
The Court heard three arguments this week, only two of which I sketched. Tuesday’s case, Moore v. Texas, was about the standard used to determine if a Texas death row inmate is too intellectually disabled to be executed.
Wednesday’s immigrant detention argument in Jennings v. Rodriguez pitted the plenary powers doctrine (I had to look that up) versus judicial review.
. . . and outside the it was a very soggy couple of days . . .
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 :
Last week seems like a long time ago. I’ve been busy with some personal business – all good – and never got around to posting the sketches from last weeks arguments in Montgomery v. Louisiana and Hurst v. Florida.
The first argument concerned inmates who as juveniles were automatically sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. The Court three years ago, in Miller v. Alabama, ruled that although juveniles could receive a life sentence it couldn’t be automatic. The issue here is whether that applies retroactively.
The second argument looked at the role of juries in determining sentence in Florida death penalty cases.