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This Term’s scheduled oral arguments are now over, but yesterday the Justices sat to issue orders and opinions. In McBurney v. Young, the Court unanimously upheld a state’s policy of restricting access to public records by out-of-state residents against challenges under the dormant Commerce Clause and the Privilege and Immunities Clause. At this blog, Lyle Denniston reports that the Court based its decision on the only argument that Virginia made to the Court – namely, that the law is intended to “help its citizens keep track of how their public agents are performing.” Coverage of the case comes from Adam Liptak of The New York Times (who also covers the other action at the Court yesterday), Garrett Epps of The Atlantic, and the ABA Journal’s Debra Cassens Weiss. At the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, Steven Schwinn remarks that the case made clear that “there’s no fundamental right to public records” in the Constitution, but instead it is a matter for state legislatures.
By a vote of five to four, the Court dismissed as improvidently granted Boyer v. Louisiana, in which it was considering whether the state’s failure to fund counsel for a poor defendant for five years should count against the state in a speedy trial challenge. Debra Cassens Weiss at the ABA Journal reports on the case, while at The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen cites the case as the latest example of an “ideological split [on the Court] over the Sixth Amendment’s right to a speedy trial” that has persisted for decades. The editorial board of The New York Times also weighed in on the case, arguing that, although the Court “should have mustered a majority to strengthen th[e] essential American right” to the assistance of counsel, instead “[i]ts five conservative justices simply refused to decide the case, leaving the conviction and a life sentence in place.”
Yesterday’s orders also garnered coverage. The Court granted cert. in Burrage v. United States, in which it will consider whether the crime of distribution of drugs causing death applies when the drug contributed to the death but was not the sole cause of it. The Court also denied cert. in Alabama v. United States, a case involving the “anti-harboring” provision in Alabama’s 2011 immigration law, which made it a crime to help undocumented immigrants enter or live in the state. The Court’s decision leaves in place a lower court decision blocking the state from enforcing the law. Justice Scalia dissented from the Court’s denial of review. Lyle Denniston has coverage of the orders for this blog; other coverage of the Court’s order denying review in the Alabama case comes from NPR’s Scott Neuman, Lawrence Hurley of Reuters, CNN’s Bill Mears, Richard Wolf of USA Today, and Tal Koplan of Politico. And the Court also declined to review Law Debenture Trust Co. v. Charter Communications, Inc., a bankruptcy case which involved the “equitable mootness” doctrine. Lawrence Hurley of Reuters has coverage.
- In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Gary May responds to Justice Scalia’s remarks during oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, the challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. He argues that the Justice “is wrong when he calls the Voting Rights Act ‘a racial preferment’ that provides no protection for white voters.” [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys work for or contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to Representative F. James Sensenbrenner et al., who filed an amicus brief in support of the respondent in this case.]
- The Economist reports on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the challenge to the university’s use of affirmative action in its undergraduate admissions process. Joan Biskupic of Reuters also reports on the pending case, which was argued in October. [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys work for or contribute to this blog in various capacities, also represented the American Association of Law Schools as amicus curiae in this case.]
- At Forbes, Michael Bobelian reports on last week’s cert. grant in DaimlerChrysler AG v. Bauman, in which the Court will consider whether a court may constitutionally exercise general personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation based solely on the fact that an indirect corporate subsidiary performs services on behalf of the defendant in the forum state. [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys work for or contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the respondents in this case.]
- In his Sidebar column for The New York Times, Adam Liptak discusses the split among lower courts regarding the proper interpretation of Graham v. Florida, in which the Court held that the sentencing of a minor convicted of a non-homicide crime to life in prison without the possibility of parole violated the Eighth Amendment. The Court last week denied cert. in Bunch v. Bobby, a challenge to the constitutionality of an eighty-nine-year sentence imposed on a sixteen-year-old.
- In an interview with the editorial board of The Chicago Tribune, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor expressed doubts about whether the Court should have granted review in Bush v. Gore. At The New York Times, Andrew Rosenthal discusses those remarks. [Disclosure: The law firm of Goldstein & Howe, P.C., now known as Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys work for or contribute to this blog in various capacities, was among the counsel to respondent Al Gore in that case.]
Recommended Citation: Sarah Erickson-Muschko, Tuesday round-up, SCOTUSblog (Apr. 30, 2013, 9:48 AM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/04/tuesday-round-up-171/