Weekly Brief and Term Preview

The U.S. Supreme Court will be back in session in only TWO days. With cases concerning LGBTQ+ and transgender rights, gun control, immigration law, religious liberty, environmental regulations, insanity defenses, and other topics, the Court’s term was already shaping up to be a noteworthy one. But just yesterday, the Justices added to their docket a pair of cases involving a Louisiana abortion law, a move that will put the Court ever more in the limelight in a term that stretches into an election year. With less than 48 hours until the Nine don their black robes and take their seats at the bench, here’s a brief about what the Court did this week and what is sure to come. Get ready, folks: O.T. 2019 is just about underway!

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Brief in Recess: September 11

Earlier this summer, the Supreme Court stayed an injunction against the Trump Administration, which had barred it from using nearly $2.5 billion in interdepartmental transfer funds for construction of the border wall. Tonight was Part II. The high court lifted another injunction that had been issued against the Administration, this one concerning the latest asylum rule promulgated in July. Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg dissented. With less than a month until the Court is back in session, it seems clear the Justices are not shy of acting on their summer shadow docket. Here’s a summary of the case, the Court’s order, and Justice Sotomayor’s dissent.

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Brief in Recess: September 4

Wednesday night, the Supreme Court denied a Texas death row inmate’s petition for a stay of execution. There were no noted dissents, but Justice Sotomayor did write a two-page opinion respecting the Court’s decision. Sotomayor shed light on a possible discrepancy between the Court’s decision in Gonzalez v. Crosby in 2005 and subsequent practices by some of the nation’s federal appeals courts. Here’s a quick brief of the case and Justice Sotomayor’s opinion.

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Brief in Recess: August 22

Editor’s Note: Following this post’s publication Friday afternoon, the Supreme Court issued a press release stating that Justice Ginsburg has completed a three-work course of radiation therapy to treat a tumor on her pancreas. The tumor was found on July 31 after routine blood tests, and a biopsy confirmed it was a malignant, but localized growth. The release noted that Ginsburg “tolerated treatment well,” that there is “no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body,” and that she needs “no further treatment . . . at this time.”


We are just past the halfway point in the Court’s summer recess. Late last night, the Supreme Court denied a Florida inmate’s petition for a stay of execution. While there were no noted dissents, Justice Sotomayor penned a brief opinion respecting the denial. Here’s a quick brief about the case to get you up to speed.

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Brief in Recess: July 26

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.

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