Monday on the Supreme Court plaza was sizzling hot, Friday was not. In fact now, on the other side of the solstice, it’s drizzling and mild.
Into the home stretch now, the Court is adding opinion days to its regular June calendar of Monday sittings, and most of the cases remaining are biggies.
This week’s blockbusters were Carpenter v. United States, in which the Court ruled that a warrant is required for most cell phone data searches, and South Dakota v. Wayfair where the Court ruled that online and mail order businesses now need to collect sales tax on out of state purchases.
There were, of course, other opinions and if you’re wondering why I haven’t posted those here’s the reason: in the courtroom I roughly sketch each justice as they announce an opinion, or dissent, from the bench, but only complete the ones that are notable in some way, usually because it’s one everyone’s been waiting for. To complete and post every sketch of every justice announcing every opinion would be repetitive and boring.
Sometimes though, I’ll complete and post a drawing simply because I like it, or because of an interesting or humorous turn of phrase as when Justice Kagan, announcing the opinion in Lucia v. Security and Exchange Commission, described the petitioner as “an investment advisor who marketed a retirement savings strategy called ‘Buckets of Money.’”
The justices heard arguments today in two cases arising from warrantless searches. The first, Byrd v. United States, looks at whether an unapproved driver of a rental car has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
The second case, Collins v. Virginia, brings us to the word of the day, “curtilage”, as in do the police need a warrant to look under the tarp concealing the motorcycle parked on your curtilage?
To get the flavor of today’s arguments check out Mark Walsh’s “view” from the courtroom.
Monday was patent day at the Supreme Court with arguments in two cases, Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group and SAS Institute Inc. v. Matal, related to a provision of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act aimed at keeping patent troll lawsuits out of court.
Wednesday’s argument, Carpenter v. United States, was a biggie on cellphone search warrants.
So much is going on right now I’ll just post the sketches from three of this week’s arguments – Lynch v. Dimaya, Lee v. Tam, and Ziglar v. Abbasi – and leave it at that.
While the big news today was the denial of all same-sex marriage ban petitions the Court also heard its first argument of the term, Heien v. North Carolina, a Fourth Amendment “reasonable” search case from the home town of Andy Griffith: Mt Airy, North Carolina.
In April, 2009, Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Darisse – pictured above with beard (and dislexically id’d) as he waited in line for a seat in the courtroom this morning – was working “criminal interdiction” on Highway 77 when he pulled over a vehicle for having a stop light out. After asking permission to search the vehicle officers found a baggie of cocaine and the owner of the car, Nicholas Heien, was arrested along with the driver.
It turns out, however, that North Carolina law only requires “a stop lamp on the rear of the vehicle” and since Heien’s car still had one good light the stop was illegal, and the cocaine “fruit of the poisonous tree.”
The question is whether the search was reasonable. After all, most of us would expect two working stop lights to be the law, and were surprised to learn otherwise (at least in NC). On the other hand ignorance of the law is no excuse for most defendants, so why should a police officer be allowed a mistake when enforcing the laws?
Not much has yet been published on today’s argument, and I have to confess that I get most of my information after the fact from what I read. I find it very difficult to draw and at the same time follow the thread of the argument; must be different parts of the brain – plus my wife says I’m hard-of-hearing. I did manage to pick up that Justice Scalia was never satisfied with the answer he got form petitioner’s lawyer, Jeffrey Fisher.
Above is my best drawing of the day, I think. Great subject.