U.S. Supreme Court - The FindLaw U.S. Supreme Court News and Information Blog

U.S. Supreme Court - The FindLaw U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Summaries Blog


The topic of the week for me seems to be legal writing. And my favorite type of post is the "poll the audience" post because it means I can be a spineless scribe and take no stance whatsoever.

So, after writing an advice column for law students and young attorneys about legal writing, I decided to shelve my "Sexiest SCOTUS Justice" topic for a few more weeks and instead ask you, dear readers, who you think the best and worst writers among our Supreme Court justices?

A note: I'm including a few suggestions from myself, the press, blogs, and Twitter friends, but I'll include all nine justices in each poll, just in case.

Today's all about the music: rap lyrics as threats, the final countdown for same-sex marriage advocates, and cops facing the music in court (or not). Here are today's three selections for our SCOTUS roundup:

  • If a man writes criminal threats in the form of rap lyrics, is he actually making those threats, or is he simply doing what most rapper do: writing over-the-top, violent boasts over beats?
  • In a rare case of a victorious party supporting certiorari, same-sex marriage plaintiffs, who are undefeated in federal courts, are asking the Supreme Court to take the case anyway.
  • UC Erwin Irvine Dean Erwin Chemerinsky outlines the numerous ways in which the Supreme Court has made it virtually impossible to hold police officers, such as the one who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, accountable in a civil lawsuit.

Even though the Affordable Care Act's contraception mandate took a blow in Hobby Lobby, the Obama administration is still out there trying to preserve it -- and head off any future problems.

On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services issued new proposed rules about the procedures religious employers can use to get exempted from providing contraceptive coverage in their employer-sponsored health plans.

Marcia Coyle, a long-time Supreme Court reporter and the author of a great book on the Roberts Court, sat down earlier this week with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her chambers.

This interview went a bit deeper than a lot of recent interviews, and covered a broad range of topics, with Ginsburg's statements on these five topics standing out to me the most: the death penalty, Justice Sonia Sotomayor's dissents, gay marriage, law school, and the "Notorious RBG" fan club.

The U.S. Supreme Court has stayed the Fourth Circuit's decision in the Virginia gay marriage case, which means licenses won't be handed out to same-sex couples tomorrow. Anyone surprised by this? Thought so.

And despite a national trend toward increased support for same-sex marriage, at least one state is still staunchly opposed. Any guesses?

And finally, who wants to see a Supreme Court justice dump a bucket of ice water on his or her noggin? (Answer: We all do!)

Same-sex marriage: It's the hottest legal topic out there, one that despite a bit of issue fatigue, we end up covering every single day because there is some fascinating legal development at hand.

What's the latest on the many gay marriage appeals? After the Fourth Circuit declined to issue a stay in the Bostic case, where that court ruled against Virginia's gay marriage ban, state officials reached out to the U.S. Supreme Court for some timely intervention -- if no stay is issued, then gay marriage becomes legal in Virginia on Thursday.

Meantime, oral arguments in the Sixth Circuit, and a decision in a state court in one of that circuit's states, have drawn renewed attention to a decades-old order in which the Court already decided the gay marriage debate. But is it still valid?

With only two years left in his presidency, and no apparent Supreme Court vacancies in sight, is President Obama ever going to nominate another justice?

Following the president's remarks on that very topic this week, The Wall Street Journal's Jacob Gershman did the math, and it looks like Obama may indeed get that chance, at least statistically speaking. According to Gershman, 82 percent of U.S. presidential terms have overlapped with at least one vacancy on the Supreme Court.

That's a pretty high number, but how could he have arrived at that figure? Let's take a closer look.

The U.S. Supreme Court has taken the highly unusual move of referring a lawyer to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Disciplinary Board for investigation. The case involves an appeal by Michael Ballard, who was sentenced to death in 2010 for killing his ex-girlfriend and three others, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Ballard's attorney, Marc Bookman, the director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on Ballard's behalf.

Ballard, though, said that he didn't want to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Everybody needs a little R&R, even our Supreme Court Justices. While the most exciting thing (to us) that has happened to our Justices is their fashioning into comic book heroes (with my favorite justice as my favorite hero), they are actually traveling the country on speaking engagements.

Let's take a look at what the Justices have been up to this summer.

When the majority in Shelby County held that the Voting Rights Act had outlived its purpose, all because minority voter registration numbers had caught up in previously problematic states, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was furious. Actually, lots of people were furious, but she was furious and had the bench to use as a pulpit.

We covered her powerful dissent, which pointed out every other sign of voter suppression: gerrymandering, racist southern lawmakers who were caught on tape referring to their black constituents as "aborigines," the hundreds of discriminatory voting law changes blocked by the DOJ since the 1980s, and more.

The majority had one stat: voter registration numbers. Ginsburg had many, many more. Here are a few others: