Editor's Note :

Editor's Note :

On Tuesday at 10 a.m. we expect one or more opinions in argued cases; we will be live-blogging at this link at approximately 9:45.

Breaking News :

Breaking News :

The last day of the March argument calendar presents the Justices with two consumer bankruptcy cases. First up is Bullard v. Blue Hills Bank, which presents a basic fact pattern doubtless repeated in tens (if not hundreds of thousands) of bankruptcy filings this decade: a bankrupt homeowner, whose home indisputably is worth far less than the mortgage that burdens it, with few other significant debts. Indeed, the Justices face that fact pattern three times this month (earlier this week in Caulkett and next Wednesday in this case and Harris v. Viegelahn). Continue reading »

Last week’s argument audio

By on Mar 30, 2015 at 9:21 am

Oyez has posted audio recordings of last week’s arguments.

The Court heard arguments last week in:

Posted in Everything Else

Monday round-up

By on Mar 30, 2015 at 6:24 am


  • In the Los Angeles Times, David Savage looks at a case that the Justices considered at their Conference last week, asking “whether a school official’s fear of violence justified disciplining students for wearing American flags on their shirts.”
  • At Slate, Judith Schaeffer looks back at comments about Loving v. Virginia made by Chief Justice John Roberts during his confirmation hearing, and she argues that the decision makes “clear” that the state laws at issue before the Court in the challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage “infringe on the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry.”
  • At ACSblog, Sarah Hunger and Meredith Kincaid discuss the amicus brief that they filed in support of Courtney Lockhart, an Alabama death row inmate who is challenging the state’s practice of allowing trial judges to override a jury’s recommendation and impose a death sentence.
  • At Hamilton and Griffin on Rights, Ann McGinley analyzes last week’s decision in Young v. United Parcel Service, in which the Court sent the case of a female UPS driver who became pregnant back to the lower court for it to reconsider its ruling.
  • At the National Review’s Bench Memos, Robert Cheren disputes a statement made by Solicitor General Don Verrilli during last week’s oral arguments.

A friendly reminder:  We rely on our readers to send us links for the round-up.  If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, or op-ed relating to the Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at] scotusblog.com.

Posted in Round-up

Petition of the day

By on Mar 27, 2015 at 10:20 pm

The petition of the day is:


Issue: Whether the minimum required culpability state for denying a bankruptcy debtor a discharge of a tax debt based on the debtor's participation in a disallowed tax shelter, and spending decisions in light of a known or potential tax debt is: (1) negligence (i.e., the debtor should have known better than to participate in the tax shelter or spend money on something other than a present or potential future tax bill), per the analysis of several circuits including the Tenth Circuit in In re Vaughn; (2) specific intent (i.e., the debtor must specifically intend for his spending to defeat the IRS's ability to collect a tax debt), per the Ninth Circuit's analysis in Hawkins v. Franchise Tax Board; (3) the mental state of knowingly (i.e., the debtor knows it is practically certain that his spending will put money beyond the reach of the IRS's collection efforts), in conformity with this Court's decisions equating willfulness with knowledge; or (4) some other mental state.


At 10 a.m. Monday, the Supreme Court will hold one hour of oral argument on the procedure to be used to determine if an individual is mentally disabled and thus cannot be given a death sentence.  In Brumfield v. Cain, arguing for the Louisiana death-row inmate will be Michael B. DeSanctis of the Washington, D.C., office of Jenner & Block LLP.  Representing the state warden will be Premila Burns of Baton Rouge, an assistant district attorney for the East Baton Rouge Parish.  Each lawyer will have thirty minutes of time.


Over the years, the Supreme Court has created a fairly short list of categories of individuals who cannot constitutionally be executed for their crimes.   The list includes juveniles, the mentally insane, anyone who commits a crime other than murder, and, most recently, an individual who is mentally disabled.  Although each decision in this series supposedly imposed a flat ban on a death sentence for the individual or the crime, the Court has struggled the most with clarifying the mental disability category.  It returns to that effort next week.

Continue reading »

This week at the Court

By on Mar 27, 2015 at 1:24 pm

On Monday the Court will hear oral argument in Brumfield v. Cain. The Court will also issue orders from the March 27 Conference.

On Tuesday the Court will hear oral argument in Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises and Commil USA, LLC v. Cisco Systems.  We also expect one or more opinions in argued cases; we will be live-blogging at this link at approximately 9:45 a.m.

On Wednesday the Court will hear oral argument in Bullard v. Hyde Park Savings Bank and Harris v. Viegelahn.

This is the final week of the March sitting.


Relist Watch

By on Mar 27, 2015 at 12:55 pm

John Elwood reviews Monday’s relisted cases.

After a customary mid-March break to allow all sentient life on Earth time to research and complete its brackets (history may view picking Villanova for the championship game as more Millard Fillmore than Abraham Lincoln), the Court is back in session, and so is the Watch.  Let’s take a look at how the unstoppable favorites and plucky underdogs did this week.

We start, as usual, with victors.   DIRECTV v. Imburgia, 14-462, pulled off an upset in double overtime.  After years of talking trash about whether an arbitration agreement requiring application of state law means state law before federal law has preempted provisions inconsistent with the Federal Arbitration Act, or after preemption, the Court will have to put its money where its mouth is.

Continue reading »


At its Conference on March 27, 2015, the Court will consider petitions seeking review of issues such as equitable tolling in habeas proceedings, First Amendment rights of students, and a court’s denial of a criminal defendant’s constitutional right to testify.

This edition of “Petitions to watch” features petitions raising issues that Tom has determined to have a reasonable chance of being granted, although we post them here without consideration of whether they present appropriate vehicles in which to decide those issues.  Our policy is to include and disclose all cases in which Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, represents either a party or an amicus in the case, with the exception of the rare cases in which Goldstein & Russell represents the respondent(s) but does not appear on the briefs in the case.

Continue reading »

Posted in Everything Else

Scalia whole picThe Originalist is playing at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. from now until May 3. John Strand, the playwright, was kind enough to answer a few questions:

Question: You say that Justice Antonin Scalia intrigued you because he’s “kind of a lightning rod.  Half the country thinks of him as a monster and half thinks of him as a hero.” When you set out to write the play, was the goal to create a biographical story about Justice Scalia, or to write an allegory about deep divisions?

Strand: As a playwright, I was intrigued by the character of Justice Scalia, but not with an unauthorized biography in mind. The Originalist is not a bio play, or a documentary, or a law lecture (for which I am utterly unqualified and no theater audience would tolerate, anyway). I wanted to use this combative, almost operatic figure to explore how two people on opposite sides of a political, social, and even legal spectrum can take a step toward one another, begin to listen, learn to hear and respect the other’s argument. Is there still a political “middle” and what does it cost to meet there?

Continue reading »

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