Posted on June 30, 2010 at 12:01 pm by Matthew Scarola
The Court yesterday issued its final orders of October Term 2009. The Washington Postâ€™s Robert Barnes characterizes the Term as an â€œassertiveâ€ one for the Court, with Chief Justice Roberts playing a dominant role. The Wall Street Journalâ€™s Jess Bravin characterizes Justice Kennedy as the â€œ[C]ourtâ€™s true compass.â€ He acknowledges that Justice Roberts was in the majority more often than Justice Kennedy, but stresses that â€œon the most contentious cases, it was Justice Kennedy who cast the deciding vote.â€
The conclusion of the Term also marks the end of Justice Stevens’ service as an active Justice. Bravin describes Stevens’ evolution into the leader of the Courtâ€™s liberal wing, noting that last month Stevens concluded, â€œthere was no way to apply the death penalty in accord with constitutional guarantees.â€ (Thanks to How Appealingâ€™s Howard Bashman for a link to the full text of the article.) Stevensâ€™ tenure concluded with a capital case, Sears v. Upton, in which the Court granted certiorari and vacated the death sentence of a convicted kidnapper. Capital Defense Weekly and Courthouse News Service both have coverage of the case, which is headed back to Georgiaâ€™s Supreme Court.
Some of the Courtâ€™s other actions are also attracting attention. The Court granted certiorari in Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Candelaria, which concerns a statute sanctioning employers who hire undocumented immigrants. Ruthann Robson highlights the Ninth Circuitâ€™s opinion at Constitutional Law Profâ€™s Blog. The Court declined to grant certiorari in Pfizer, Inc. v. Abdullahi, effectively allowing families to sue Pfizer for allegedly testing a drug on Nigerian children without consent. The Christian Science Monitorâ€™s Warren Richey has coverage, as does Law360â€™s Erin Marie Daly. At Courthouse News Service, Maria Dinzeo describes another case that the Court declined to hear, effectively upholding a San Francisco health-care plan that requires employer expenditures towards the goal of covering low-income residents of the city. Law360â€™s Shannon Henson also highlights the Courtâ€™s vacating of two honest-services based convictions, in light of its recent decision in Skilling v. United States.
In addition, some of the Courtâ€™s recent opinions are still being evaluated.
The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times opines that the Courtâ€™s decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez could lead to â€œbizarre results, such as a Jewish group having to admit Christians or a pro-life group being required to let abortion-rights activists seek leadership positions.â€ At PrawfsBlawg, Rick Garnett laments the Courtâ€™s opinion, which he believes embraces the idea that the government has an interest in imposing â€œdissentâ€ or â€œdissonanceâ€ on a religious organization, in order to teach its members â€œrespect for difference.â€
At the Washington Post, Peter Whoriskey discusses the Courtâ€™s decision inÂ Bilski v. Kappos, which â€œrelaxes limits on innovations that can be patented.â€ The Wall Street Journalâ€™s Brent Kendall and Don Clark report that the Court left â€œinventors and lawyers without clear guidance on what types of business methods could qualify for protection under patent laws.â€
The editorial board of the Washington Post praises the Courtâ€™s result in the petition-signatory anonymity case, Doe v. Reed. But it fears that the Court â€œleft open a worrisome possibility: Petition signers could block disclosure on a case-by-case basis if they convince a judge that they will be subject to harm if their names become public.â€
Finally, speculation continues about the effect of the Courtâ€™s decision in the Second Amendment incorporation case,Â McDonald v. Chicago. Sentencing Law and Policyâ€™s Douglas Berman highlights an AP piece, â€œwhich reviews the state gun restrictions that might soon be subject to post-McDonald litigationâ€