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


One hundred and eight pages. A 3-2-1-2 split, with a separate concurrence and a recusal. Justice Breyer sided with the conservative wing of the court. Justice Sotomayor wrote for 57 pages in dissent, and got personal with the other justices, leading to a two-page separate concurrence/rebuttal by Chief Justice Roberts.

In other words, this is a massive headache of an opinion, with a holding that narrows past SCOTUS precedent and allows states to ban race conscious admissions policies.

More Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) cases? Say it ain't so, SCOTUS.

Alas, a criminal with a white supremacist career, and a lot of arms, just made his way to the High Court, along with another criminal case, which involves the police finding bliss (and a permissible search) in ignorance.

And then there is the small matter of World War III, or at least the over-hyped case involving a conflict of power between Congress and the Executive, Israel and Palestine, Jerusalem, and the label on a citizen's passport -- no big deal, right?

We've discussed Justice Samuel Alito's truancy in the past, with the Justice sitting out of dozens of certiorari denials and initially recusing himself from this term's Limelight, Pom Wonderful, and Aereo cases, all likely due to conflicts presented by his stock portfolio. (Though the Justices do not disclose their reasons for self-recusal, Alito's financial disclosures have shed a lot of light on patterns of inherited and purchased stocks, past recusals, and botched non-recusals.)

With Alito benched, rather than on the bench, there was some concern over whether Aereo could end in a 4-4 tie, leaving the Second Circuit's pro-Aereo opinion intact, but also leaving the rest of the land (which includes anti-Aereo court decisions in other circuits) unaffected. Worry not though, as he just unrecused himself in Aereo and Pom Wonderful, days before oral arguments.

For the last week, one of the top posts on The Washington Post's website has been retired Justice John Paul Stevens' "Justice Stevens: The five extra words that can fix the Second Amendment," an excerpt from his upcoming book, "Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution."

Personally, I can't wait to read the book, even if there is no doubt in my mind that I'll disagree with at least one-sixth of it. It's important to hear other perspectives, and debate big issues, and make no mistake about it, gun rights is one of the biggest issues facing our country today.

If a judge follows you on Twitter, must he recuse himself from any future cases where you are a party or an attorney? Surely reading tweets doesn't amount to an appearance of bias.

What about a LinkedIn connection? It is, after all, the "professional" social network.

Or what about Facebook? Of all the social networks, it is the most informal. Friendship gives you access to photos, wall postings, and other non-public information. If a judge is Facebook friends with a litigant, or an attorney, does that mandate recusal?

We've discussed the issue before, and have seen it pop up in state cases, but this petition for certiorari, set for consideration on April 25, asks the U.S. Supreme Court to set a nationwide standard for social media and the appearance of impropriety. It's a tall order for a Court that still uses ivory paper instead of email.

Ah, another slow week on First Street. Not to worry, folks, there's plenty of Supreme Court gossip to tide you over.

No, the Hillary Clinton reference in the headline has nothing to do with a flying shoe (no word on the make and model of said shoe, but we do know that it was feminine and orange). Though that incident has snatched up the headlines, a different speech by the possible presidential candidate, discussing the court's ruling in McCutcheon, is far more interesting. She hates the ruling, but an interesting question is: Does she benefit from it?

Meantime, thanks to a few recent developments in same-sex marriage litigation appeals, the race to the Supreme Court has shifted. Who's on track, and who is likely to file for certiorari first? We'll handicap the odds.

The impact of last week's decision in McCutcheon v. FEC is obvious: There will be a lot more money injected into politics. Those who can afford to donate will, which realistically means that the rich will have an even louder voice.

Chief Justice John Roberts didn't seem particularly concerned about the impact of his controlling plurality opinion, noting that Congress may not "restrict the political participation of some in order to enhance the relative influence of others," while Justice Stephen Breyer predicted doom and gloom, stating that the decision "eviscerates our nation's campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve."

Outside the bench, the reactions are equally (yet predictably) split:

February's protestor sure isn't going to be happy. Let's hope for a sequel!

Speaking of sequels, in a case many dubbed "Citizens United II," the Supreme Court this morning held that the aggregate limits on direct campaign contributions to candidates and political parties were a violation of free speech, and therefore unconstitutional. Unsurprisingly, the decision was heavily split, with an unusual 4-1-4 lineup that pitted four conservatives against four liberals, with Justice Clarence Thomas steadfastly standing alone in concurrence with the judgment only.

As for the real-world effect, expect a lot more money to change hands in the next federal election, more donations to state candidates and parties (which previously played second-fiddle to federal candidates when running up against the limits), and maybe, just maybe, a legislative effort to curb transfers of funds between PACs, parties, and candidates.

After eight years of silence (so long as you don't count last year's near unintelligible mumble), Justice Clarence Thomas finally spoke during Supreme Court oral arguments, albeit with an odd choice of topic.

Speaking of silence, moments before he spoke up, the House of Representatives passed Articles of Impeachment against the Justice, accusing him of nonfeasance of duty due to his years of silence and repeated refusal to adhere to stare decisis.

Circuit Court of Appeals? Isn't this the U.S. Supreme Court blog?

True indeed, but controversies below, and circuit splits, often mean SCOTUS petitions. Besides, we've got three issues that are begging for a little Supreme Court clarification -- the Second Amendment, sexual orientation discrimination, and the issue that never seems to go away: abortion.