Remember when I remarked in my final brief for O.T. 2018 that the Supreme Court is unlikely to grant any cases or issue any decisions until it is back in session in October? Oops. To quote Daniel Day-Lewis’ character in Lincoln: “I’ve found that prophesying is one of life’s less-profitable occupations.” I should have listened.
Late Friday night, by a 5:4 majority, the Supreme Court stayed a June ruling issued by a federal district court in California. The district court had issued a permanent injunction against the Trump administration, barring it from using any of the nearly $2.5 billion that had been transferred to the Department of Defense’s counternarcotics fund to pay for the construction of the border wall between the United States and Mexico. The Administration appealed that ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but also sought a stay of the district court’s injunction. The Supreme Court’s order permits the Administration to use those funds for border wall construction unless or until the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the Administration’s appeal of the full case. For more on the Supreme Court’s decision, here’s a quick brief.
And thus ends the Supreme Court’s October Term of 2018. As I suspected last week, the finale came with a bang. This week, the Court issued decisions in some of its most high-profile cases all term—decisions in cases concerning the 2020 census; partisan gerrymandering; the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Twenty-First Amendments; federal criminal law; and Auer deference under administrative law. It also released two sets of orders, in which it added a whopping 21 cases to its docket for next term. So as the curtain falls on O.T. 2018, we anxiously await the first Monday in October and the beginning of O.T. 2019. Here is your brief for the week of June 24.
(Note:Please excuse this almost-late, sometimes-technicality-filled post; the Court—I admit, as was expected—went bonkers with opinions this week, meaning my undergraduate brain was ground to a pulp late-night after late-night as I read 577 pages of law and wrote over 7500 words here to summarize. But all in the spirit of learning, though—right? Plus, we get to look forward to this again next week. Yippee!)
Cue the commentator’s announcement: “On the final lap, here they come into turn four, all bunched up!” Indeed. We are into the final two weeks of O.T. 2018, and the Court released a dozen—yes, a dozen—opinions this week, grouped into fours on Monday, Thursday, and Friday. In addition, the Court sent back to the lower court a hot-button, LGBTQ vs. religious liberty case from Oregon; granted and consolidated five cases concerning President Barack Obama’s appointments to Puerto Rico’s financial oversight board; and denied a petition for a stay of execution. All told, I will do my level best to briefly canvass the bevy of activity that took place this week at 1 First St. NE, Washington D.C. But—forgive the pun—don’t bet on this week’s “brief” to be very brief. Here’s your brief for the week of June 17.
Last week, I noted that the Court hardly grabbed a headline (despite four decisions in argued cases and three certiorari grants), since its proceedings concerned less-contentious and more-technical matters. Was this week any different? Well, no. Again, Court nuts like myself may enjoy this week’s brief, which covers three more decisions and five cert. grants, a smidgen more than the lay reader. But on the bright side, with twenty-four cases in O.T. 2018 still yet to be decided, the Court is teeing up an action-packed, blow-the-doors-off finale to end its term here in the next fourteen days. At any rate, here is your brief for the week of June 10.
Following the three decisions it issued last week, the Court issued another three decisions this week, in addition to granting a case for next term. On Monday, at 9:30am EDT, the Court released Orders from last Thursday’s private conference, including one grant of certiorari and two dissenting opinions relating to denials of certiorari. Then, at 10:00am EDT, the Court released its decision in three argued cases: one involving the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, one concerning the effect of Wyoming’s statehood on the 1868 Treaty between the federal government and the Crow Tribe, and one about drug-preemption cases concerning the interaction between pharmaceutical companies and the Food and Drug Administration. After a quiet Tuesday and Wednesday, the Court met for its weekly private conference on Thursday, before releasing on Friday stays on lower-court decisions in partisan gerrymandering cases. Here is your brief for the week of May 20.
Last week, the Court concluded its schedule of oral arguments for the term. Thus, the Court’s proceedings moving forward will deal exclusively with private conferences, Orders, and Opinions. This week was no different. Following last Friday’s conference, the Court on Monday released its Orders list, in which it did not grant any cases for next term but did call for the views of the U.S. Solicitor General (“CVSG”) in a copyright case (more on that below). The Court then released its decision in Thacker v. Tennessee Valley Authority. The Court was not in session Tuesday–Thursday, and met for its private conference on Friday. Here is your Brief for the week of April 29.
Starting this week, I will be publishing a weekly summary of the Supreme Court’s proceedings. These “briefs” will be published over the weekend and will review the events that took place at the Court over the past week, including Orders, Oral Arguments, and any published Opinions. Check in every weekend for your rundown of what happened at the Supreme Court and for a brief snapshot of what is on the next week’s schedule.
The Supreme Court had an incredibly busy past few days. The Court granted certiorari in five cases, three of which concern employment discrimination rights for LGBTQ+ and transgender employees. It heard oral argument in seven cases (the last arguments of the term), including the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census and a Fourth Amendment challenge to a state law allowing a blood draw from an unconscious motorist. Finally, the Court released an opinion with significant ramifications in the context of arbitration agreements, and also dismissed a case from its docket as improvidently granted. This is the Brief for the week of April 22.