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.
Spring is coming – slowly – to DC as the Supreme Court begins its March sitting.
March is gerrymander month at the court this term with an argument on race-based redistricting in Virginia on Monday, and two more to be argued next week.
On Tuesday, the Court announced opinions is three cases. The first, dealing with maritime law, was of limited interest . . .
. . . but the second, Nielsen v. Preap, significantly expands a mandatory-immigration-detention without-bond statute.
To signal the seriousness of the decision Justice Breyer announced from the bench his dissent, joined by Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan.
Since Breyer also announced the opinion in Cougar Den I did not bother to draw him again. The Court then heard argument in Cochise Consultancy v. U.S.
Wednesday’s argument, like Monday’s, involved a question of race. In Flowers v. Mississippi a local district attorney tried the same defendant six times for murder. The first two verdicts were overturned because of prosecutorial misconduct. The third was overturned because during jury selection the DA struck all African-Americans from the jury pool. The fourth and fifth trials resulted in hung juries which brings us to the case before the Court where Flowers was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of four people during the robbery of a furniture store in the town of Winona, Mississippi. At this sixth trial all but one of the six African-Americas jurors in the pool were struck leaving a jury of 11 whites and one black. The question before the Court is whether race was a factor when the prosecutor used his peremptory strikes in violation of the Court’s opinion in Batson v. Kentucky.
At the very end of the argument in Flowers, just as the lawyer for the petitioner was about to cede her time for rebuttal, Justice Thomas chimed in with a question breaking a three year silence.
On Wednesday the Justices heard arguments in the last two scheduled cases of the term. Between now and the end of June they will take the bench only to announce opinions, and possibly for the ceremonial investiture of Justice Gorsuch.
The first argument, Sandoz v. Amgen, an exceedingly complex case on a provision of the Affordable Care Act that covers biosimilar drugs.
The second argument, Maslenjak v. U.S., raised concerns, especially for Chief Justice Roberts, about prosecutorial overreach. The case involves a naturalized citizen who lied on her application and was therefore stripped of her citizenship.
“Some time ago,” Roberts asked the government’s lawyer, “outside the statute of limitations, I drove 60 miles per hour in a 55-miles-per-hour zone. I was not arrested.” “Now you say that if I answered that question no, 20 years after I was naturalized as a citizen, you can knock on my door and say, guess what, you’re not an American citizen after all.”
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.
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 . . .