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February 2012 Archives

SCOTUS: LIA Preempts Defective Design, Failure to Warn Claims

The Supreme Court affirmed the Third Circuit today in Kurns v. Railroad Friction Products, finding that the Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA) preempts a state-law tort for asbestos exposure.

Lead plaintiff George Corson worked as a locomotive welder and machinist for 27 years, installing brakeshoes on locomotives and stripping insulation from locomotive boilers. In 2005, Corson was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, the singular cause of which is asbestos exposure.

In 2007, Corson and his wife sued 59 defendants that manufactured and sold locomotives and parts containing asbestos in Pennsylvania state court, alleging that Corson’s injuries were caused by the defendants’ defective design and failure to warn.

Supreme Court Rejects David Bowie

The Supreme Court rejected two petitions for certiorari on Monday, refusing to resolve an inter-circuit dispute over government employees' free speech rights. Appellants in both the D.C. and Second Circuit Courts of Appeals had asked the Court to clarify its 2006 Garcetti v. Ceballos decision that government employees are not protected by the First Amendment for statements made in their official capacity.

The two denied petitions were David Bowie v. Maddox and Jackler v. Byrne. And no, it's not that David Bowie.

SCOTUS Rules for More Litigation and Qualified Immunity

While the Nine heard oral arguments about the Stolen Valor Act in U.S. v. Alvarez on Wednesday, the Court was also releasing opinions.

The Supreme Court issued three more opinions this morning, raising the decision tally for their first post-recess week to seven. It was a day of reversals, with the Court sending the following cases back to the Montana Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

February's First Four: SCOTUS Decides Kawashima, More

After several weeks of recess, the Supreme Court was bustling this morning. The Court issued four opinions and granted certiorari in a highly-hyped case today.

There were two grants today for the October 2012 term: Fisher v. University of Texas, the college affirmative action case, and Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Florida, which will resolve the question of what qualifies as a "vessel" to trigger maritime jurisdiction. We'll discuss the granted cases later; today, we're talking about the decisions.

In Cleveland, You Could be a Federal Judge?

In Portlandia, Fred Armisen’s hilarious series about Oregon’s most famous city, Armisen claims that the dream of the ’90s is alive in Portland. He supports this theory with statements like, “Portland is where young people go to retire,” and “In Portland, you don't have to [give up clowning.]”

Similarly, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia claims that the dream of the lawyer work-life balance is alive in Cleveland.

For those of you who want to be a Supreme Court Justice when you grow up, Justice Scalia suggests following his path: Go to Jones Day in Cleveland, work less, become involved in your community, and get a Supreme Court nod. Easy as pie.

How Justice Ginsburg Struck Out in the Pro-Choice Movement

For almost 40 years, politicians and talking heads have debated the merits of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. There have been hours of analysis evaluating the odds that the decision could be overturned. Presidential candidates have sworn to protect the pro-Roe majority, or appoint jurists who would reverse the decision. Norma McCorvey -- Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade -- even had a change of heart and asked a federal court to overturn the landmark decision in 2003.

So it may come as a surprise that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a noted advocate of the women's rights movement, wishes that Roe v. Wade hadn't happened.

SCOTUS Robberies: Breyer and Aliens, Real and Metaphorical

Justice Stephen Breyer was robbed at his home on the West Indies island of Nevis around 9:00 p.m. last Thursday night, reports the Associated Press. The robber, armed with a machete, took approximately $1,000 in cash from Breyer, his wife, Joanna, and their guests. No one was injured.

Breyer is not the first Supreme crime victim. In the last 20 years, Justice David Souter was attacked while jogging in Washington, D.C., and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was the victim of a purse-snatching, according to the AP.

FHA Discrimination Case Withdrawn Before Date with SCOTUS

Article III courts may only hear cases or controversies. As of today, Magner v. Gallagher, a case from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals that was set for oral arguments this month before the Supreme Court, no longer meets those criteria.

The City of St. Paul, Minn. withdrew its petition to the Supreme Court today, so the case will instead proceed to trial in a Minnesota federal court, reports SCOTUSblog. The Supreme Court had scheduled arguments in the case for February 29.

Valentine's Day Engagement? Plan a Supreme Court Wedding

Since Valentine's Day is near, (and we're in the middle of the Supreme Court recess), we're shifting our focus today from Supreme Court arguments to Supreme Court weddings.

Last summer, we told you that Justice Stephen Breyer officiated at former Congressman Patrick Kennedy's wedding to school teacher Amy Petitgout. Now, David Lat at Above the Law reports that Justice Elena Kagan has jumped on the wedding-officiant bandwagon -- or is a horse-drawn carriage in these situations? -- uniting Columbia Law professor Philip Bobbitt in matrimony with Columbia 3L Maya Ondalikoglu.

Supreme Court Calendar: April Oral Arguments Schedule

The final cases on the October 2011 Term Supreme Court calendar have been announced. On Friday, the Court released the April oral arguments schedule.

While we'll have to wait and see if April showers bring May flowers, we can be certain that April oral arguments will yield a flood of opinions in cases dealing with the government's relationship with Native Americans.

Ginsburg and Scalia: Raising the Bar for Supreme Court Friendship

We’ve never subscribed to the grown-up version of Valentine’s Day; it strikes us as insincere. Instead, we've always preferred the childhood version of the holiday: showering friends with silly sentiments, (e.g. Justin Bieber valentines), and candy.

In that spirit of appreciating friendship -- and because the Supreme Court is away at winter recess -- today we're looking at the most unlikely friends on the Court: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia.

Looking Forward to Spring: Groundhogs and Stolen Valor

Happy Groundhog Day, SCOTUS-watchers. America's seasonal oracle, Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow this morning, according to The Washington Post.

You can forget that balmy weather outside, because "winter" is here for six more weeks. (Our calendar indicated that winter was here until March anyway. Perhaps Phil's shadow is predicative of the winter in our hearts rather than the vernal equinox?)

The Supreme Court is out of justice's shadow for its winter recess, so today we're going to spring forward from 2/2 to 2/22, when the Nine will hear Stolen Valor Act arguments.