SCOTUSblog is still accepting applications from current law students interested in interning with us. The principal focus of the internship (which is a paid one) will be assisting with the “Petition of the day” and “Petitions to watch” features on the blog and maintaining the case pages. This will require roughly 10 to 20 hours of work a week on a generally flexible work schedule, which can be accomplished remotely. The position will begin in early to mid-May, and the expected commitment would be through May 2018.

To qualify for the position, you must:

* Have a strong academic record

* Be currently enrolled in a J.D. or LL.M program (undergraduates are not eligible)

* Have excellent organizational skills and attention to detail

* Be able to work independently on deadline

* Have a strong interest in learning about the U.S. Supreme Court and its workings

* Have some experience working with (or at least interest in) blog or website technology

To apply, please send us the following materials:

* Cover letter

* Resume

* Contact information for two references

* A writing sample of no more than five double-spaced pages that has not been edited by anyone other than you

* An official or unofficial law school transcript

Application materials should be sent to Andrew Hamm (ahamm@scotusblog.com) and Molly Runkle (mrunkle@scotusblog.com). Materials must be received by April 28 for consideration.

 
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In a surprise to virtually no one, the oral argument in the consolidated patent cases Sandoz v. Amgen and Amgen v. Sandoz showed the Supreme Court struggling to understand both the highly complex patent provisions in the Affordable Care Act (aka the “Obamacare” statute) and the many procedural complexities of the underlying litigation.

The argument began with an unusual announcement by Chief Justice John Roberts, who told the lawyers for the two battling pharmaceutical firms that “the Court has decided to give each of you five extra minutes” of argument time.  Each advocate must have thought, “Wow, five whole minutes! For each of us! How generous!”

Joking aside, however, I’m sure that the advocates understood what the court was doing. The court could not possibly have thought that the five more minutes would really bring much more clarity to the issue. Even five extra hours of argument might not have helped much. The extra time signals to the lawyers, and to the larger biomedical community that cares about these legal issues, that the court understands that this litigation is far more complex than most others and that the justices are willing to put in extra effort to try to resolve the relevant issues in a conscientious manner.

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Without any recorded dissents, the Supreme Court last night declined to block the execution of Kenneth Williams. Williams was the fourth inmate executed in Arkansas in a week; the state had sought to execute eight inmates over a span of 11 days so that it could carry out the executions before one of the drugs in its lethal injection protocol expired, but four other inmates had their executions stayed. The 38-year-old Williams had been serving a life sentence without parole for the 1998 murder of Dominique Herd when he escaped from prison and murdered Cecil Boren, who lived near the prison. Williams stole Boren’s truck; driving the truck while trying to evade capture, Williams struck and killed another driver, Michael Greenwood. Williams was sentenced to death in 2000.

In filings yesterday at the Supreme Court, Williams argued that his execution should be put on hold to allow him to demonstrate that he is intellectually disabled and therefore cannot be put to death. But the justices were unwilling to step in. They issued orders denying Williams’ request for relief shortly after 11 p.m. EDT, the state began to administer the lethal injection a little less than an hour later, and Williams was pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m. CDT.

 
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Friday round-up

By on Apr 28, 2017 at 7:09 am

At Reuters, Lawrence Hurley reports that during Wednesday’s argument in Maslenjak v. United States, an immigration case, Chief Justice John Roberts “took issue … with the Trump administration’s stance,” “saying it could make it too easy for the government to strip people of citizenship for lying about minor infractions.” Additional coverage of the argument in Maslenjak comes from Britain Eakin at Courthouse News Service, who reports that the justices offered “hypothetical examples from failing to disclose nicknames to lying about weight to walking into an immigration hearing with a pocket knife.”

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With the final arguments of the Supreme Court term completed on Wednesday, Georgetown Law on Thursday held its traditional reception to thank participants in its moot court program and to recognize a special guest.

The honoree this year was Jeffrey Minear, the counselor to Chief Justice John Roberts. And the reception brought together Roberts, Justice Elena Kagan, members of the U.S. solicitor general’s office, a couple of federal appeals court judges, and numerous specialists of the Supreme Court bar, not to mention invited law students and their more casually dressed classmates who slipped in to grab an hors d’oeuvre or a selfie with a justice.

Remarks at the event shed light on the wide range of non-judicial activities at the court, especially the many extra duties of the chief justice.

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Petition of the day

By on Apr 27, 2017 at 11:23 pm

The petition of the day is:

16-1161

Issues: (1) Whether the district court violated Vieth v. Jubelirer when it held that it had the authority to entertain a statewide challenge to Wisconsin’s redistricting plan, instead of requiring a district-by-district analysis; (2) whether the district court violated Vieth when it held that Wisconsin’s redistricting plan was an impermissible partisan gerrymander, even though it was undisputed that the plan complies with traditional redistricting principles; (3) whether the district court violated Vieth by adopting a watered-down version of the partisan-gerrymandering test employed by the plurality in Davis v. Bandemer; (4) whether the defendants are entitled, at a minimum, to present additional evidence showing that they would have prevailed under the district court’s test, which the court announced only after the record had closed; and (5) whether partisan-gerrymandering claims are justiciable.

Asterisk Watch

By on Apr 27, 2017 at 11:59 am

John Elwood reviews Monday’s relists.

So in the April 7 edition, we trumpeted that that the newly installed Justice Neil Gorsuch would surely participate in his first conference on April 13. Wrong! As indicated in a footnote in the next order list, the new junior justice sat that conference out (as it turns out, getting ready for the April sitting). So of course we confidently predicted in the April 21 edition that Gorsuch was no doubt going to be in full-on note-taking mode at that day’s conference. Less Wrong. When the order list came out the following Monday, there were no asterisks announcing he hadn’t participated in considering the cases as a general matter. But the order list stated repeatedly, for applications, petitions, rehearing petitions, mandamus petitions and habeas corpus petitions, that “Justice Gorsuch took no part in the consideration or decision of this [matter].” If you counted everything up, the only matters Gorsuch discussed with his colleagues at that conference were five cert petitions (including one serial relist that was denied without comment, one serial relist that occasioned two opinions and one capital case that drew a dissent from Justice Stephen Breyer); two rehearing petitions in capital cases that previously were serial relists; and, most unusual of all, a decision granting a movant’s request to “proceed as a veteran” and thus pay no filing fees under Supreme Court Rule 40.

So why should you care about any of that? You shouldn’t. You should be out frolicking in the spring weather, or enjoying the monuments or doing something normal people do. But you’re not. You’re reading a Supreme Court blog. Reflect on your poor life choices for a moment.

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In its conference of April 28, 2017, the court will consider petitions involving issues such as whether a statute which does not amend any generally applicable substantive or procedural laws, but deprives the petitioner of the right to pursue his pending lawsuit, violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment; whether statistical racial disparities in the use of voting mechanisms or procedures are relevant to a vote denial claim under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act; and whether the Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant to acquire cell-site location information used to track and reconstruct the location and movements of cell-phone users over extended periods of time.

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Thursday round-up

By on Apr 27, 2017 at 7:20 am

Yesterday the court heard oral argument in Maslenjak v. United States, which asks whether a naturalized U.S. citizen can be stripped of her citizenship in a criminal proceeding based on an immaterial false statement. Amy Howe analyzes the argument for this blog. In The New York Times, Adam Liptak reports that several of the “justices seemed taken aback” by the idea “that the government may revoke the citizenship of Americans who made even trivial misstatements in their naturalization proceedings.” Additional coverage of the argument comes from Jess Bravin in The Wall Street Journal, who reports that “[s]kepticism over the Trump administration’s broad view of government power didn’t translate into sympathy for Divna Maslenjak, the Bosnian Serb immigrant who filed the appeal.”  Continue reading »

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Petition of the day

By on Apr 26, 2017 at 11:23 pm

The petition of the day is:

16-1012

Issue: Whether, once a suspect has been taken into custody and given the Miranda v. Arizona warning, the suspect’s “selective silence” – that is, the refusal to answer some but not other questions – may be used by the state to establish the suspect’s guilt at trial.

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