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What does it take to get disciplined by the Supreme Court Bar? How about letting your client write the briefs? Back in December, the Court issued an order to attorney Howard Shipley to show cause why he shouldn't be sanctioned for his conduct in connection with a cert. petition in the case Sigram Schindler Beteiligungsgesellschaft MBH v. Lee.

That was a patent case dealing with claim construction, but patent watchers like the website Patently-O thought the petition looked a little weird. In fact, look at the petition for yourself: It's extremely weird and uses a tremendous amount of highly technical language and equations.

The Supreme Court is ready to begin its February oral arguments -- well, in what's left of February, anyway. After two weeks of arguments in January dealing with religious speech, housing discrimination, and whistleblowers, the Court took some time off (while one justice took a nap at an inopportune time).

Now that Justice Ginsburg has had her beauty rest, let's see what's in store for next week.

Same-sex nuptials have taken place in parts of Alabama, after the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 not to stay enforcement of a federal judge's order that the state's gay marriage ban was unconstitutional. The High Court's decision paved the way for same-sex marriages to begin immediately (though some county courts still declined to issue marriage licenses, reports).

Wait -- I did say "7-2," didn't I? Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, wrote a three-page dissent that Court watchers are saying tips the Court's hand vis-a-vis same sex marriage.

Why do these things always happen on a Friday? Last week, the Supreme Court dropped the bombshell that it was reviewing the Sixth Circuit's same-sex marriage case.

Today, the Court announced that it would hear the appeal of Richard Glossip and two other death row inmates in Oklahoma scheduled to be executed in the next few months. The petition is noteworthy because the inmates are challenging the legality of the lethal injection process itself.

After a nice, long, break, the Supreme Court is raring to go again, starting the second half of its October 2014 term with oral arguments on January 12.

The Court is apparently going to ease back into its job after vacation. This first week lacks the more polemical cases that we'll see later, focusing instead on interpreting regulations and statutes. (When will we get to same sex marriage and abortion?!)

What can SCOTUS watchers expect to see in the first week back? Here's a preview:

"Pneumatics!" begins Chief Justice Roberts' annual year-end report on the federal judiciary. In 1893, The Washington Post heralded the pneumatic tube as a brilliant way to move documents around a large building.

When the Supreme Court building was constructed in 1931, Cass Gilbert incorporated pneumatic tubes in order to distribute information to the press. The lesson, buried at the end of this historical journey: It took 38 years for the Court to embrace this new technology.

One Small Step Toward Transparency: SCOTUS to Post Briefs Online

It's not an uncommon opinion that the U.S. Supreme Court is a bit lacking when it comes to transparency. There are no cameras in the courtroom, opinions are changed without notice after being released, link rot plagues citations to online sources, and court watchers have to rely on third parties to access the briefs that, most of the time, are what makes up the justices' minds.

In other words, there is a lot of room for improvement.

In his end-of-the-year report, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that the Court will take one small step towards an ideal, transparent world: It will soon post all of those ever-important briefs online.

Speak Softly, Carry a Big Brief? Masculine Voices Fall Short at SCOTUS: Study

"Mister Chief Justice, may it please the Court?"

A recent study rated male lawyers as they argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, and nothing correlated with success quite like the masculinity of the lawyers' voice while uttering that phrase. But the real shocker? The more masculine the voice, the less likely the advocate was to win the case, according to the study.

Is it a statistical fluke? And were there any other interesting findings?

2014 in Review: The SCOTUS Stories You Loved Most This Year

We're nearing the end of the year: a time for reflection, a time for planning and resolutions.

Part of our process is to look back and see what you liked, measured by blog traffic. And for 2014, that included juicy justice gossip, a Scalia screw-up, and a few posts about cases that were working their way through the docket.

Here's the big list:

Except for oral arguments and the occasional back-page opinion attached to the order list, it's been a quiet week at the Supreme Court.

On December 1, the Court heard oral arguments in U.S. v. Elonis, the "Facebook threats" case. Last week, the Court heard another one of its more polemical cases, about whether UPS broke the law by not giving lighter assignments to pregnant employees, even though it had done so for injured employees.

Here are some other snippets from this week's Supreme Court news.