Friends, The new Alliance Alert Daily Digest is finally here! You can subscribe to the daily e-mail here: Subscribe to our mailing list * indicates required Email Address * First Name * Last Name *
SCOTUS Blog: Finally, Justice Thomas has the opinion in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, about an Arizona municipality’s outdoor sign regulations that were challenged on First Amendment grounds by a church seeking to promote its Sunday services.
USA Today: The future of same-sex marriage and President Obama’s health care law hang in the balance as the Supreme Court’s 2014 term draws rapidly to a close this month. But those aren’t the only big issues on the justices’ plate.
National Law Journal: Twenty-five years ago this week, a technician walked a floppy disk from one computer to another at the U.S. Supreme Court and, for the first time, transmitted an electronic version of a high court ruling to the outside world.
Above the Law: In the best and most benign of circumstances, the internet can be a dark and scary place full of bullies and hatred. So, I can only imagine the garbage that was spewed at Southern District of New York District Judge (and ex-Cravath partner) Katherine Forrest after she threw the book at Ross Ulbricht (despite pleas for leniency) for his role in Silk Road, the online black market that dabbled in all manner of illegalities.
National Review: On the Volokh Conspiracy, Randy Barnett presents what he calls a “defense of judicial equality”—which turns out to be his euphemism for the judicial-supremacist claim that the president and Congress must abide by a federal judicial determination that a federal law is unconstitutional.
National Review: Ramsey seems to argue that Lincoln’s actions in defiance of the Dred Scott ruling didn’t “truly challenge judicial supremacy as [Ramsey] would define it.”
National Review: The myth of judicial supremacy is logically incompatible with the supremacy of the written Constitution. According to the myth of judicial supremacy, the Constitution means whatever five Supreme Court justices claim it means and all other governmental actors are duty-bound to abide by that supposed meaning—even if it is in clear conflict with the actual meaning of the Constitution—until such time as five justices revise it or a constitutional amendment overrides it.
New York Law Journal: In my first months on the court, I was concerned about my rookie status. The more senior members were more than ready to calm me down. Chief Justice William Rehnquist was both wise and consistently fair. I recall telling him at lunch with a handful of our colleagues that I did not know how I fit in with them. In his characteristically blunt manner, he said: “Clarence, in your first five years you wonder how you got here. After that, you wonder how your colleagues got here.”
LA Times: In a potentially historic ruling, the court will decide whether same-sex couples have a right to marry nationwide, culminating a two-decade legal and political fight for same-sex marriage.
National Law Journal: In the past five years the U.S. Supreme Court has addressed some of the nation’s most controversial issues, overturning acts of Congress by 5-4 majorities.
National Law Journal (Access via Google): Philip Alito, the son of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr., has left Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher to become a staff counsel to Republicans on a U.S. Senate investigative subcommittee.
National Law Journal (Access via Google): A new effort to limit the tenure of future U.S. Supreme Court justices launched Wednesday, with the aim of urging any would-be nominee to pledge to serve a single 18-year term.
Religion Clause: The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct last week issued a Public Admonition (full text) against Texas state trial court judge Carter Tinsley Schildknecht, finding in part that she: “manifested a religious and/or cultural bias by describing District Attorney Munk as a “New York Jew” and by criticizing a prosecutor’s beard because it made him look like a “Muslim.””
Public Discourse: Reading and understanding the Constitution is not an especially complicated intellectual exercise. It takes lawyers, judges, and law professors to turn it into something difficult and convoluted.
National Law Journal (Subscription Required): As the Roberts Court enters the final stretch of its 10th term, the outcomes in a handful of cases could define that court for years to come.
The National Law Journal: A U.S. Supreme Court decision is forcing state bars to re-examine their operations to avoid potentially huge antitrust liability. At the same time, three public interest-consumer organizations are pressing the nation’s 50 state attorneys general to enforce the high court’s ruling.
New Jersey Law Journal (Subscription Required): U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was on friendly ground when he appeared to speak at a Federalist Society event in Morristown recently—both as a native of the state and a longtime supporter of the organization—but his remarks aimed at the legislative branch and others in Washington, D.C., were less chummy.
National Law Journal: Where is the legal star power on this year’s law school commencement circuit? It seems the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will sit out the 2015 graduation grind.
New Jersey Law Journal: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has nominated four lawyers for initial seven-year terms on the Superior Court bench and eight sitting trial judges for tenure.
New York Law Journal: Richard Bartlett, whose six-decade legal career included serving as the first state chief administrative judge in a nascent unified New York court system, has died. He was 89.
National Review: “Judicial-identity disorder,” or “judicial dysphoria,” is my proposed label to describe judges who experience significant discontent with the role they were assigned when they took office. JID typically manifests itself in judicial decisions that are inconsistent with the judicial role and in behavior that reflects a severe and pervasive discomfort with neutrally applying the law. Unfortunately, no effective treatment for the condition is currently available.
The Wall Street Journal (Accessible via Google): The Supreme Court on Wednesday handed business a narrow victory in a labor case, ruling that courts have the power to review how the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handles discrimination complaints before it decides to sue an employer.
Listen to the oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges (the same-sex marriage case at the Supreme Court)
The two questions are as follows: 1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
The Atlantic: If the Supreme Court strikes down same-sex marriage bans, it may well do so on the grounds that they violate the dignity of gay couples. And although proponents of marriage equality may cheer a decision along these lines when it is delivered, the expansion of the constitutional right to dignity may produce far-reaching consequences that they will later have cause to regret.
National Law Journal (Accessible via Google): On the morning of the historic same-sex marriage arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court, Michigan special assistant attorney general John Bursch, who is defending his state’s marriage ban, will don his trademark bow tie, walk into the ground level of the court building and rub the toe of the bronze statue of Chief Justice John Marshall for luck.
The New York Times: ON Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex marriage case. But the proceeding won’t be broadcast on radio or television or live-streamed on the Internet. (Or photographed.)
The Hill: As the Supreme Court is gearing up to hear arguments Tuesday in what could be the nation’s most influential case on gay marriage, Democratic lawmakers are calling on the high court to adopt a code of ethics for justices.
The New York Times: After one of the nation’s most protracted cabinet-level confirmation delays, the Senate Thursday approved Loretta E. Lynch to be attorney general. She is the first African-American woman to hold the position.
The Washington Post: Law schools across the country are facing their lowest enrollment numbers in years, causing some to slash their budgets and revamp their programs in an effort to attract students worried about finding a job in a diminished legal industry.
National Law Journal (Subscription Required): A leading group that opposes same-sex marriage is urging U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse herself from the landmark cases that could decide whether such marriages must be permitted under the Constitution.
SCOTUS Blog: When the Court convenes on April 28 to hear oral arguments in the challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage, many of the reporters covering the hearing will be at the Court for the first time. This guide to covering the Court is intended for those reporters.
National Law Journal (Subscription Required): U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Thursday blamed outside factors, not the justices themselves, for the public perception that the high court has become a political institution. Speaking at the New York Public Library, Sotomayor said, “The world around us has politicized what we’ve done.”
The National Law Journal: The private-practice lawyer who will defend Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage before the U.S. Supreme Court is working independently from his firm, Warner Norcross & Judd, which declined to get involved in the litigation.
The National Law Journal: A San Diego law professor did not defame the plaintiff in a disability-benefits lawsuit when he blogged about her case in 2012, a California appellate court has ruled.
The New York Times: The world will be watching when the Supreme Courthears arguments this month about same-sex marriage. But will the court be watching the world?
National Law Journal (Subscription Required): With Monday’s release of orders, the U.S. Supreme Court now shifts gear into the calm before the storm of its annual push to hear a final round of arguments and issue its most controversial opinions before the end of June.
National Law Journal (subscription required): Forcing lawyers to write shorter briefs is not the solution to the problems federal appeals court judges have with outsized filings, an advisory panel was told on Wednesday.
National Law Journal (Access via Google): The U.S. Supreme Court rarely offers practice pointers to the advocates who appear before it. But it did just that on March 23, when it admonished members of the Supreme Court bar to use “plain terms” when they write briefs.
National Law Journal: Lawyers often push for as much time as they can get to argue an appeal. When the red light flashes, signaling time is up, some lawyers keep going — until a judge tells them to stop.
The National Law Journal: The demographic groups most underrepresented on law faculties include white Christians and Republicans, according to research by Northwestern University School of Law professor James Lindgren.
Yahoo News (AP): In a dispute over a proposed Confederate battle flag license plate, the Supreme Court struggled Monday to balance worries about government censorship and concerns that offensive messages could, at worst, incite violence.
National Law Journal (Access via Google): Prosecutors offered this deal to a group of protesters who demonstrated inside the U.S. Senate gallery in November: stay out of trouble, and we’ll drop the case.
The Legal Intelligencer: The majority of Am Law 200 firms have revamped their websites in the last couple of years, with one consultant putting a price range on those projects of anywhere from $25,000 to $1 million. But regardless of the cost, many of the sites, consultants say, look largely the same.
Religion Clause: A fascinating decision handed down by an Idaho federal district court last week shows the complexity faced by prisons in attempting to applying the U.S. Supreme Court’s January RLUIPA decision in Holt v. Hobbs.
Religion Clause: Plaintiff not only seeks an injunction against displaying the inscription, but also an injunction against the court’s continued distribution of an allegedly misleading publication that describes the quote’s history and Lord Coke’s relationship with Rhode Island’s founder Roger Williams.
The Week: Yesterday’s oral arguments for King vs. Burwell, the latest legal challenge to ObamaCare before the Supreme Court, confirmed one thing: The law, as written, is a complete mess.
The Daily Signal: Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the highly anticipated case King v. Burwell.
SCOTUS Blog: The audio recording of the Supreme Court’s April 28 hearing on the same-sex marriage cases will be released soon after that hearing is completed, the Court announced on Thursday. Both the audiotape and the written transcript should be available by no later than 2 p.m., the Court said.
Time: When the Supreme Court last considered the Affordable Care Act, the argument was easy to follow: Does the federal government have the power to force people to buy health insurance?
SCOTUS Blog: Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who seemed decidedly more sympathetic to the government than might have been expected, worried over a constitutional blow against the states. But even the two Justices most openly sympathetic to the challengers — Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and Antonin Scalia — seemed to concede the dire consequences that could follow, by suggesting ways to alleviate it. Alito said the Court could delay its ruling to allow time to adjust, and Scalia said Congress could be counted on to fix it.
CATO Institute: This week, the Supreme Court considers King v. Burwell. At issue is whether the IRS exceeded its authority under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by issuing a final IRS rule that expanded the application of the Act’s subsidies and mandates beyond the limits imposed by the statute. King v. Burwell is not a constitutional challenge. It challenges an IRS rule as being inconsistent with the Act it purports to implement. The case is a straightforward question of statutory interpretation.
US News: Another year, another Obamacare case goes before the Supreme Court. But this time, everything is upside down.
The part of the Abercrombie & Fitch case that had the Supreme Court Justices laughing at their own jokes
IJ Review: Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F) is no stranger to controversy surrounding their hiring practices in regard to religion and body composition. The latest case to be brought to the Supreme Court is due to alleged religious discrimination of A&F applicant, Samantha Elauf.
Religion Clause: The full transcript of this morning’s Supreme Court arguments in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores is now available from the Court’s website. AP reports on the oral arguments in the Title VII religious accommodation case, saying that the Justices seemed to support prospective employee Samantha Elauf’s position. At issue is the kind of notice that is needed to be given to an employer before its obligation to try to accommodate religious exercise is triggered.
Religion Clause: The court rejected Pellegrino’s free exercise claim, saying that at most he suffered an “insubstantial inconvenience” for refusing to stand. The court also rejected Pellegrino’s claim that his refusal to stand was protected expressive conduct.
National Law Journal (Subscription required): The scope of the right to marry appeared to divide the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday—not in the familiar context of same-sex marriage, but in the long struggle of an American citizen to bring her Afghan husband to the United States.
National Journal: The court will hear oral arguments Wednesday in the case of Samantha Elauf, who was denied a job at an Abercrombie store because of the headscarf she wears as a practicing Muslim. Abercrombie says it didn’t have to make an exception to its “look policy” for Elauf because she didn’t specifically ask for one—while her lawyers say it shouldn’t be up to job candidates to ask for religious accommodations.
Religion News Service: Using a new search engine, we searched for oral arguments that mention the religion clauses of the First Amendment (the Establishment Clause, and the Free Exercise Clause). The graphs below show the number of cases mentioning each clause per year, and then the total number of cases since 1950.
Religion Clause: Viewed in context, it is apparent that the legislative intent was for the exemption to apply to members of religious bodies which, like the Church of Christian Science, are established institutions with doctrines or customs that authorize healers within the church to perform spiritual treatment via prayer in lieu of medical care. Because the exemption is effectively limited to members of religious groups that closely resemble the Christian Science Church, the terms at issue are not so vague that the scope of the exemption “cannot be ascertained.”
National Law Journal (Access via Google): A weighty discussion at Yale Law School on the role of religion in public service suddenly turned lighthearted during a recent exchange between U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his mentor, former U.S. senator John Danforth.
National Law Journal (Access via Google): “I don’t want to make any predictions,” Ginsburg told MSNBC reporter Irin Carmon in an interview that aired Monday night. “But precedent is important in this court.”
Red State: Insofar as I know, no constitutional issue has been raised, briefed or argued in King v. Burwell in any of the courts below; so this may all be too much to hope for. But now that the Supreme Court has accepted certiorari, here is an entry from that perhaps-too-much-to-hope-for category.
Talking Points: Of the many pro-Obamacare arguments that government lawyers are making to save the law from the Supreme Court, one stands out as particularly tailored to winning the crucial vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Politics CheatSheet: 2015 is set to be a major year for the Supreme Court of the United States.