The first Monday in October (today) is Supreme Court opening day! Two other traditions coincide with this tradition. First is State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) Supreme Court Preview webinar. Second is the results of the Supreme Court’s “long” conference. Continue reading
Perhaps the Supreme Court’s midterm has come and gone. The Court will only hear argument in 10 more cases and the term will end June 30. But the Court has issued decisions in less than half of the cases of the term so far. So now might be just the time to take stock of the Supreme Court’s term as it relates to the states. Continue reading
The Friday before and the Tuesday after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day the Supreme Court accepted a total of nine cases, including a challenge to the President’s executive order allowing undocumented parents of children who are citizens to remain in the United States.
United States v. Texas will be heard this term and decided by the end of June. Oral argument will be held next term in some of the other cases accepted mid-January.
Four of the eight cases accepted, in addition to the immigration case, affect state and local governments. While I will write more about each of these cases later, for now, below is a brief synopsis of them. Continue reading
The Supreme Court’s 2014-2015 docket is now complete. While the same-sex marriage and Affordable Care Act cases will receive the most attention, the docket is chalked full of cases significant to local government. The State and Local Legal Center’s (SLLC) Midterm Review article summarizes all the cases accepted and already decided that will affect local government. Expect decisions in all the cases by the end of June. If you are interested in these cases and others register here for the SLLC’s FREE Supreme Court Midterm Review webinar held on March 5.
Here are some highlights:
Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona and Sheehan v. City & County of San Francisco are probably the most significant cases of the term for local government. Depending on how the Court rules, both could impact every city and county in the United States. The issue in Reed is whether sign codes may treat some categories of temporary signs more favorably than others. If the Court holds they cannot, virtually all local governments will have to rewrite their sign codes. In Sheehan the Court will decide whether the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to arresting a mentally ill suspect who is armed and violent.
And this blog’s own, Kira Klatchko.
This is just a small selection of the remarkable panel of speakers that IMLA and the State and Local Legal Center will feature at the Supreme Court Practice Seminar scheduled for March 4, 2014. It will be a true “can’t miss” event. See the agenda and full list of speakers here. Register here. And stay for the State and Local Legal Center’s 30-year annniversary reception, which you can register for here.
Be sure to check out details of the Supreme Court Practice Seminar that IMLA and the State and Local Legal Center will host on March 4, 2014. Lisa Soronen, executive director of the State and Local Legal Center, has invited some remarkable Supreme Court practitioners. It is a can’t-miss program for anyone intersted in the Court. You can register here.
Yesterday, in a move with significant implications for appellate practice, the U.S. Senate modified its filibuster rules to allow a simple majority to approve individuals nominated to serve on district and appellate courts. This is likely to have a direct impact on President Obama’s recent nominees to the D.C. Circuit: Patricia Millett, Nina Pillard, and Robert Wilkins.
Ezra Klein provides 9 reasons why the change is a huge deal as a general matter. And Steve Klepper of the Maryland Appellate Blog suggests that the change may also have a significant impact on circuit judges thinking of retiring or assuming senior status. See his post here.
The Third Circuit decided this week that installing a GPS device on a car requires police to obtain a search warrant. The case, United States v. Katzin, builds upon the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Jones, which held that placing a GPS device on a car is a “search” for Fourth Amendment purposes. Katzin addresses when that search is reasonable. The court considered various exceptions to the warrant requirement in other contexts, but concluded that none applies here. The court recognized that it was the first circuit to address this issue.
Richard Wolf of USA Today covers the Supreme Court’s use of “wild hypotheticals.” As Kevin Russell explains:
“They are not so much trying to get an answer from you as they are trying to demonstrate a flaw,” says Kevin Russell, a frequent Supreme Court litigant. “Sometimes they’re just picking on the poor advocate … or sending signals to other justices on the bench.”
The Federal Circuit recently said no, in a case highlighted today at Julie Tappendorf’s must-read blog Municipal Minute. In the case, the District of Columbia and the City of Houston attempted to trademark these two marks:
The court ruled that Section 2(b) of the Lanham Act ( 15 U.S.C. 1052(b)) prohibits the local governments from registering the marks. It provides:
No trademark by which the goods of the applicant may be distinguished from the goods of others shall be refused registration on the principal register on account of its nature unless it . . . [c]onsists of or comprises the flag or coat of arms or other insignia of the United States, or of any State or municipality, or of any foreign nation, or any simulation thereof.
The court rejected Houston’s argument that read in context, the statute does not prevent the City from registering its own seal. It also rejected D.C.’s claim that it may register the mark because of international treaty requirements.
The State and Local Legal Center hosted an excellent Supreme Court Preview Webinar this afternoon. The panelists — Tom Hungar, Kannon Shanmugam, and David Savage — discussed the following cases:
- Town of Greece v. Galloway — Is the Town’s legislative prayer practice consistent with the Establishment Clause?
- EPA v. EME Homer City Generation — Did the EPA properly enact rules addressing State air pollution under Clean Air Act’s “good neighbor” provision?
- McCullen v. Coakley — Does a Massachusetts law forbidding speakers from entering or remaining on a sidewalk in front of a reproductive health care facility violate the First Amendment?
- Fernandez v. California — If a defendant’s co-tenant consents to a search but the defendant had objected to the search previously and was not present and objecting at the time of the search, does the co-tenant’s consent control for Fourth Amendment purposes?
- Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action — Did Michigan violate the Equal Protection Clause by amending its constitution to prohibit race- and sex-based discrimination in public university admissions decisions?
- Mt. Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action — Are disparate impact claims cognizable under the Fair Housing Act?
What Kind of Appellate Lawyer Was Justice Roberts? The American Lawyer has an excellent article with that title. Here’s Roberts’s approach to oral arguments:
And then there were the infamous index cards. As he contemplated a case, Roberts would write down all the possible questions he thought justices might fire at him—dozens, if not hundreds. He’d organize them into four or five topics: A, B, C, D, and maybe E. Then, he would shuffle them and fashion answers that would make a smooth transition from, say, C to E to A. “You can’t guarantee the first question you’re going to get is going to be on your first point. It may be your third point,” he told Garner. “And it’s very awkward for somebody to say after they answer the third point, ‘And now I’d like to go back to the point I was making’. . .You kind of lose a little bit of traction.” Having thought-out transitions at the ready, Roberts said, “makes the argument look fluid no matter what questions you get.”
How To Write for Your Reader, a Circuit Court Judge. Raymond P. Ward has an interesting post about how Fifth Circuit judges are increasingly reading briefs on iPads, using a program that automatically turns all citations into hyperlinks. Ward says this will lead him to put his citations in the text, instead of in footnotes.
The Federal Rules at 75. The University of Pennsylvania Law Review is hosting a symposium on the Federal Rules at 75. It will be held November 15th and 16th.
Over at Cities Speak, Lisa Soronen of the State and Local Legal Center outlines upcoming Supreme Court cases that could affect local governments:
- Town of Greece v. Galloway: Do prayers at local meetings violate the Establishment Clause?
- Mount Holly Gardens Citizens in Action v. Township of Mount Holly: Can disparate impact claims be brought under the Fair Housing Act?
- McCullen v. Coakley: Is a “buffer zone” around a reproductive healthcare facility constitutional?
- Madigan v. Levin: May employees bring age discrimination claims directly under the 14th Amendment instead of under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?
For a full preview, register to hear from Tom Hungar, Kannon Shanmugam, and David Savage on October 22nd here.
(2) More on Town of Greece
SCOTUSblog has some interesting commentary on Town of Greece, a case that we previously addressed here.
Eric Rassbach says that those challenging the Town’s prayer practice have reached a “‘Hail Mary'” moment” where “facing imminent disaster” they “stake[e] everything on one desperate, final gambit:”
Some fun items about the Supreme Court.
(1) The Supreme Court’s Best Writer
Legal-writing guru Ross Guberman recently guest blogged at the Volokh Conspiracy. He’s the author of Point Made, which dissects appellate briefs from leading attorneys.
He turned his attention to the Supreme Court’s best writers.
They’re both great picks.