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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.

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.

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.

Let's start with a caveat here: Reading the tea leaves of oral arguments is always a dangerous game. For one, Justice Clarence Thomas remains silent, so you'll get nothing out of him. Two, the rest of the justices generally agree that in nearly all cases, it's the briefs and law that decide the case, not the oral arguments.

That being said, for a case this important, we're definitely willing to pull out our crystal ball and review the transcripts and recaps for hints of the possible outcome.

What are the soothsayers saying? From the transcripts and the general consensus of those who actually attended, it's looking like bad news for the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate.

You go on vacation for a little more than a week and ... wait for it ... nothing happens.

Yep. You'd think, with the end of the October Term, that there'd be some titillating opinions, such as Noel Canning, McCutcheon, or Town of Greece, but um, there was a railroad right-of-way case and some notable denials.

Sorry about that. We'll tell RBG to speed things up a bit next time we're in D.C. (And no, Erwin Chemerinsky, she's still not retiring. Ever.) Until then, here are a few snippets of SCOTUS goodness to tide you over:

While the Supreme Court of the United States has us on the edge of our seats as we await opinions and arguments in several hot topic cases, we're only left with some SCOUTS snippets to get us through the day.


SCOTUSblog has released its Stat Pack for the October 2013 term and there are some surprising, and not so surprising facts to be gleaned. So far, the Ninth Circuit is leading the charge with most cases reversed -- so far 5 -- something that we've come to expect. More surprising, is how agreeable the Court has been to date this term. Most of the cases -- 20 so far -- have been decided with a 9-0 vote, while none have had the difficult 5-4 vote. Of course, we're awaiting some controversial decisions in highly charged cases, so that can change anytime.

California gun owners have made a last ditch effort to block the enforcement of a Sunnyvale law that is one of the strictest gun-laws in the country. The new law, known as Measure C, was passed in November, and bans ammunition magazines that are capable of holding more than 10 rounds, requires sellers of ammunition to record sales, requires the reporting of lost or stolen guns, and requires the disabling or locked storage of guns not in the owner's immediate possession.

The main provision the gun owners are challenging is Sunnyvale, California Municipal Code § 9.44.050, which deals directly with the prohibition of large-capacity magazines. The Sunnyvale law, and the disposition of this case may pave the path for what's becoming a new trend in gun laws -- enacting them on the local, city level. If this law passes constitutional muster, we can be sure to see many more cities enacting them in the future.

It's going to be a busy week for SCOTUS with decisions expected in several cases, and on this dreary Monday, the Court did not disappoint. The order list was released with one cert grant, and many denials. The Court also issued an opinion in Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust, and we remember a landmark case beloved to all Torts 1 (and Con Law) students.

Opinion in Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust, et al. v. U.S.

The case of Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust gives us a bit of a lesson in railway history, and examines the application of the General Railroad Right of Way Act of 1875 to a landowner's interest, if any. The United States had obtained a right of way over petitioners' land for railroads, but later relinquished the rights.