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

September 2015 Archives

Today marks the tenth year of Chief Justice Roberts' reign over the Court. Originally considered as a replacement for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Roberts was nominated as Chief Justice following the passing of his former boss and mentor, William Rehnquist. During his nomination hearings, Justice Roberts said he wanted a modest court. That's not exactly what he's delivered.

From gun rights to gay rights, campaign donations to health care subsidies, the Roberts Court has overseen great changes in American law. "This is a court that really wants to be and is at center stage of American public life," according to U.C. Irvine's Erwin Chemerinsky. But the court's high profile has brought it condemnation from the left and the right alike.

It's an exciting time to be a SCOTUS fan. There are Scalia dolls being sold, Sotomayor danced salsa for the Nine, and Ginsburg is learning about gansta rap. Even Clarence Thomas is making some headlines!

But let's not forget, life -- and the Court -- isn't always pleasing. As Nietzsche said: "Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man." We at FindLaw couldn't agree more.

So, in the spirit of German nihilism and full, balanced listicle-making, here are nine depressing facts about the nine Supreme Court Justices:

The President keeps an open record of everyone who visits the White House. Congress broadcasts its most sleep-inducing business over three different C-SPAN channels. The Supreme Court? They like a bit more privacy.

That privacy is earning the Court a fair amount of criticism as it gets ready to begin its new term. From the cardinal halls of Stanford Law to the pink mail boxes of Palm Beach, Florida, the Supreme Court is facing accusations that it is too secretive in its doings.

The Supreme Court Justices will return from their long vacations this Monday, ready to kick off the Court's October 2015 term. They'll begin as they always do: with ritualized slaughter. Of cert petitions, that is.

Monday marks the Court's "long conference," where the Justices sift through almost 2,000 petitions for certiorari, rejecting almost all of them. It is, as The New York Times recounts, "where appeals 'go to die.'" Here's your insider guide to the killing fields.

Chicagoland radio fans got a bit of a Supreme Court treat this morning. Chicagoans who turned their dial to 98.7 FM WFMT found themselves listening to a rare guest DJ: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Notorious RBG took over the airwaves as a guest host for the afternoon.

This wasn't your regular Top 40 tunes, though. Justice Ginsburg didn't drop any gangsta rap (though she's admitted she's becoming more familiar with the genre). There were no original RBG dubstep remixes either. Instead, Justice Ginsburg spun tunes from her favorite genres: classical music and opera.

A clerkship in the Supreme Court isn't a bad way to jump-start your legal career. SCOTUS clerks decide what cases the Court will hear and how they'll be decided. They often go on to become master litigators before the Court or to sit on the bench themselves. Many clerks get starting offers of more than $300,000 a year once they move into private practice.

Who are these lucky clerks? Statistically speaking, white guys from Harvard or Yale. When it comes to Supreme Court Clerks, they're not a diverse lot. A new report shows that feeder judges -- the few federal judges who regularly send their most talented clerks up to the Supreme Court -- might be to blame.

Justice Breyer's new book The Court and the World comes out today. In it, he argues for one of his longstanding passions -- greater engagement between the American judicial system and the rest of the world. He brought that message to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert yesterday -- a rare cross-over into pop-culture for one of the Justices.

During his appearance, Justice Breyer discussed more than just his book, surveying the advice he was given when first joining the court, arguing against cameras in the High Court, and reminding Colbert that no, watching the Justices is not entertaining. Here are some highlights.

There's no question that Supreme Court decisions affect the economy. (Lochner, anyone?) But now, a new study has identified just how much of an impact recent Court rulings have had on Wall Street.

Between 1999 and 2013, 79 Supreme Court rulings have had identifiable effects on the market, the study found. In all, those 79 rulings lead to more than $140 billion in absolute changes in wealth. The most impactful cases resulted in companies' stocks soaring, or plummeting, by billions in a matter of hours.

Justice Thomas isn't the most verbose Supreme Court Justice. But of the little he says, much of it is not his own. That's the implication of a recent piece by The New York Times' veteran court reporter, Adam Liptak, which examines the Justice's frequent use of "borrowed language" from Supreme Court merits briefs.

That story didn't sit well with plenty of legal commentators, however. George Washington Law professor Orin Kerr, for example, noted that Justice Thomas's rate of shared language is not nearly as high as Liptak makes it seem. So, who is right and does it even matter?

The Supreme Court has refused to grant an emergency stay to a Kentucky county clerk who refused to wed gay couples. This June, the Supreme Court recognized marriage as a fundamental right that cannot be denied to same-sex couples.

The Court's refusal to grant a stay, issued in a one-sentence order this Monday, meant that Kim Davis, the elected county clerk in rural Rowan County, Kentucky, would be required to issue licenses this Tuesday despite her religious objections. Tuesday has come and, just hours after the Supreme Court's order, Davis continues to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples.