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Protecting free exercise under Smith and after Smith

This article is part of a symposium on the court’s decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. Thomas C. Berg is the James L. Oberstar professor of law and public policy at the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota). Douglas Laycock is the Robert E. Scott distinguished professor of law at the University of Virginia.  Fulton v. Philadelphia is an important win for religious liberty. Philadelphia may not terminate its foster-care services contract with Catholic Social Services on the ground that CS...
Tags: Featured, Law, Congress, Css, United States, Philadelphia, Smith, Boy Scouts Of America, Gillette, Fulton, Dale, Barrett, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Kavanaugh, Catholic Social Services


Fulton quiets Tandon’s thunder: A free exercise puzzle

This article is the first entry in a symposium on the court’s decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. Jim Oleske is a professor of law at Lewis & Clark Law School. His research focuses on the intersection of religious liberty and other constitutional values. Ten weeks ago, acting on an emergency application for injunctive relief in the COVID-19 case of Tandon v. Newsom, the Supreme Court issued an unsigned opinion that appeared to resolve one of the two major free exercise issues previously...
Tags: Featured, Law, Court, Philadelphia, Smith, Rube Goldberg, Trump, Thomas, Fulton, Alito, Barrett, U S Court of Appeals, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Tandon, Kavanaugh


Justices scuttle lawsuit against Nestlé, Cargill for allegedly aiding child slavery abroad

This article was updated on June 17 at 7:15 p.m. The Supreme Court on Thursday threw out a lawsuit alleging that two U.S.-based companies, Nestle and Cargill, facilitated human-rights abuses on cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast. By a vote of 8-1, the justices ruled that the lawsuit cannot go forward because it is based on conduct that occurred overseas. Although the decision was obviously a victory for the two companies, it was not the sweeping one that the business community had sought. The...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, California, United States, Mali, Ivory Coast, Cargill, Nestle, Thomas, John Roberts, 9th Circuit, The Supreme Court, Howe, Alito


The Supreme Court turns away 6 plaintiffs who seek relief after they were used, they say, as child slaves producing cocoa in the Côte d’Ivoire.

The opinion — in Nestlé v. Doe — is written by Justice Thomas, announcing the judgment of the Supreme Court and rejecting "a judicially created cause of action to recover damages from American corporations that allegedly aided and abetted slavery abroad."In Parts I and II of the case, where Thomas has a majority — Roberts, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett (all but Alito) — he writes: Respondents seek a judicially created cause of action to sue petitioners for aiding and ...
Tags: Supreme Court, Law, United States, Slavery, Chocolate, DOE, Nestle, Thomas, Alito, Barrett, Clarence Thomas, Ann Althouse, Roberts Breyer Sotomayor Kagan Gorsuch Kavanaugh


"Court tosses suit by Republican states challenging Affordable Care Act."

"The justices ruled 7-2 that Texas and 17 other states lacked standing to argue that the individual mandate to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional" — SCOTUSblog reports.  Here's the opinion. BREYER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS, SOTOMAYOR, KAGAN, KAVANAUGH, and BARRETT, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GORSUCH, J., joined.Looking at that, I'm most interested in why Justice...
Tags: Texas, Supreme Court, Law, Obamacare, Court, Standing, Thomas, Alito, Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Gorsuch, Ann Althouse, Thomas J, BARRETT JJ, SOTOMAYOR KAGAN KAVANAUGH


Justices reject sentencing reductions for some crack-cocaine offenders

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday that people convicted of certain low-level crack-cocaine offenses are not eligible for sentencing reductions under the First Step Act, a 2018 law that made some criminal-justice reforms retroactive. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the opinion for the court in Terry v. United States. In 2008, Tarahrick Terry was arrested in Florida for carrying just under 4 grams of crack cocaine. At the time, federal law treated offenses involving crack much more hars...
Tags: Florida, Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, United States, Terry, Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, Merits Cases, Fortunately Congress


Court limits definition of “violent felony” in federal gun-possession penalty

A fractured Supreme Court on Thursday narrowed the scope of a key phrase in the Armed Career Criminal Act, ruling that crimes involving recklessness do not count as “violent felonies” for the purpose of triggering a key sentencing enhancement. Justice Elena Kagan announced the judgment of the court and wrote an opinion that was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Neil Gorsuch. Justice Clarence Thomas did not join Kagan’s opinion but concurred in the result. That means that fi...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Court, United States, Tennessee, Johnson, Thomas, Borden, U S Court of Appeals, Elena Kagan, Kagan, Clarence Thomas, Kavanaugh, United States the Supreme Court


Diverse six-justice majority rejects broad reading of computer-fraud law

The Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday in Van Buren v. United States provides the court’s first serious look at one of the most important criminal statutes involving computer-related crime, the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s opinion for a majority 0f six firmly rejected the broad reading of that statute that the Department of Justice has pressed in recent years. Among other things, the CFAA criminalizes conduct that “exceeds authorized access” of a compute...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Georgia, United States, Department Of Justice, John Roberts, The Supreme Court, Van Buren, Barrett, Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, CFAA, Merits Cases, Brett Kavanaugh


Justices narrow federal computer-fraud statute

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the government’s broad interpretation of a federal law that makes it a crime to “exceed authorized access” on a computer. By a vote of 6-3 with an ideologically scrambled line-up, the court overturned the conviction of a Georgia police officer who searched an official police database for personal purposes. Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote the majority opinion. The case, Van Buren v. United States, was the Supreme Court’s first serious look at the Computer F...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Georgia, United States, John Roberts, Van Buren, Barrett, Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Merits Cases, Amy Coney Barrett, Stephen Breyer Sonia Sotomayor, Neil Gorsuch Brett Kavanaugh, Nathan Van Buren


Lyle Denniston on the current state of the court

Lyle Denniston, a 60-year veteran of the Supreme Court press corps, returns to SCOTUStalk to assess how the court’s ideological balance has shifted this term, whether Clarence Thomas will keep talking during oral arguments next term, and whether Stephen Breyer will retire. As is always the case, you can’t listen to Lyle and not learn something. Listen now on Acast The post Lyle Denniston on the current state of the court appeared first on SCOTUSblog.
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Lyle Denniston, Lyle, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, SCOTUStalk


Refreshing unanimity in court’s interpretation of Superfund law

Just four weeks after hearing oral argument, the Supreme Court on Monday issued a refreshingly clear, unanimous decision in Guam v. United States. In an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas, the court held that Guam could seek contribution from the U.S. Navy for the cost of cleaning up the Ordot Dump, a site on the island that the Navy created and used for decades. The case involved interpretation of the federal Superfund law, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Navy, United States, Epa, District Of Columbia, Environmental Protection Agency, Thomas, John Roberts, U S Navy, D C Circuit, Clarence Thomas, Guam, Samuel Alito


Unanimous court revives Guam’s Superfund claim against U.S. Navy

The Supreme Court on Monday sided with Guam in its dispute with the federal government over the cleanup costs of toxic waste on the island. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the opinion for a unanimous court just four weeks after oral argument in the case. The case, Guam v. United States, involves the Territory of Guam’s efforts to require the U.S. Navy to share the cost of cleaning up the Ordot Dump, a Superfund site where the Navy allegedly dumped toxic waste for decades. The federal Superfund st...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Navy, United States, Environmental Protection Agency, Thomas, U S Navy, Clarence Thomas, Guam, CERCLA, Merits Cases, Territory of Guam, At the Supreme Court Guam


In unanimous Fourth Amendment ruling, a reminder that there is, in fact, no place like home

On Monday, the Supreme Court released its opinion in Caniglia v. Strom, which unanimously held that a lower court’s extension of Cady v. Dombrowski’s “community caretaking” exception into the home defied the logic and holding of Cady, as well as violated the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement. With the court’s unanimity in Caniglia, the home remains the most sacred space under the Fourth Amendment; its sanctity literally houses its privilege. Sans warrant, exigency or consent, governmental ...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Edward, Rhode Island, Thomas, Cranston, John Roberts, Dombrowski, U S Court of Appeals, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Edward Caniglia, Merits Cases, Cady, Brett Kavanaugh


On a new, conservative court, Kavanaugh sits at the center

This article is the first in a series on interim statistics from the 2020-21 Supreme Court term. The Supreme Court has issued opinions in roughly half of the cases it will decide this term, and so far Justice Brett Kavanaugh has emerged as the new “median justice” on a solidly conservative court. If the trend holds, Kavanaugh will supplant Chief Justice John Roberts, who occupied the court’s ideological center before the rightward shift caused by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Republican, Donald Trump, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump, Thomas, Democratic, Sonia Sotomayor, John Roberts, The Supreme Court, Roberts, Ginsburg, Barrett, Sotomayor


The morning read for Thursday, May 13

Each weekday, we select a short list of news articles, commentary, and other noteworthy links related to the Supreme Court. To suggest a piece for us to consider, email us at [email protected] Here’s the Thursday morning read: Justices consider hearing a case on ‘most offensive word’ (Jessica Gresko, Associated Press) Amid pandemic, U.S. Justice Clarence Thomas has a question or two (Andrew Chung & Lawrence Hurley, Reuters) A Potential Way Forward for Nondelegation Concerns (Jonathan Adl...
Tags: Supreme Court, Law, Round-up, Jonathan Adler, Clarence Thomas, JESSICA GRESKO, Andrew Chung Lawrence Hurley Reuters


Zoom is ruining conversation because it's much harder to interrupt.

I'm reading "How the Zoom era has ruined conversation." (WaPo) Maybe you think it's better to disempower the interrupters. If so, you need to hear from those who understand the importance of overlapping conversation — collaborative conversation: Suppose someone is speaking and another person, eager to express agreement, chimes in at the end of their sentence. Over Zoom, this tends to derail the discussion or narrative.... Then there’s the turn-waiting....[S]ociolinguist Deborah Tannen... descri...
Tags: Technology, Law, California, Etiquette, Conversation, Thomas, WaPo, Clarence Thomas, Race Consciousness, Ann Althouse, Deborah Tannen


Justices voice skepticism about retroactive sentencing reductions for low-level crack-cocaine offenders

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard its last case of the term. The case, Terry v. United States, about sentencing reductions for certain offenses involving crack cocaine, comes just a few months before the petitioner, Tarahrick Terry, is scheduled to be released after serving 13 years in prison. But the court’s eventual decision will likely affect hundreds of similarly situated defendants languishing behind bars. It will resolve a circuit split, determine the scope of a decades-long push to ena...
Tags: Florida, Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, United States, Terry, Bias, Dorsey, Trump, Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, John Roberts, Roberts, U S Court of Appeals, Sotomayor


Now, That’s A Satisfying Benchslap — See Also

This Bill Barr Benchslap Is Everything: This federal judge sees through the lies. Judge Loses His Cool: The allegations are startling. Rudy Giuliani Really Is A Terrible Lawyer: The subpoena was entirely expected. Will In-Person SCOTUS Mean A Quiet Clarence Thomas? Probably. Wanna Get A State Clerkship? There’s a law school for that.
Tags: Law, Rudy Giuliani, Clarence Thomas, See Also, Bill Barr Benchslap


Will Clarence Thomas Return To Silence Once Justices Return To Supreme Court?

He previously spent a decade without speaking once during oral arguments.
Tags: Supreme Court, Law, Courts, Quote Of The Day, Clarence Thomas, Will Clarence Thomas


The morning read for Tuesday, May 4

Each weekday, we select a short list of news articles, commentary, and other noteworthy links related to the Supreme Court. To suggest a piece for us to consider, email us at [email protected] Here’s the Tuesday morning read: Justice Clarence Thomas, Long Silent, Has Turned Talkative (Adam Liptak, The New York Times) Supreme Court declines to revisit precedent that restricts lawsuits from service members (Robert Barnes, The Washington Post) Justice Clarence Thomas says ex-West Point ...
Tags: Maryland, Supreme Court, Law, West Point, Washington Post, Associated Press, Round-up, Robert Barnes, Adam Liptak, Clarence Thomas, New York Times Supreme Court, Feres Doctrine, Clarence Thomas Long, Pete Williams NBC News Supreme Court, Meghann Myers Military Times Supreme Court


In final case the court will hear this term, profound issues of race, incarceration and the war on drugs

Academics naturally believe that even obscure cases in their field are underappreciated; each minor tax or bankruptcy case quietly frames profound issues of justice. But, doubtful readers, rest assured that Terry v. United States – which the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday in the final argument of its 2020-21 term – packs so many swirling issues of great importance into an absurdly little case, it can hardly be believed. The national debate on historical racism in our criminal punishment sys...
Tags: Florida, Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, White House, Barack Obama, United States, Aclu, Kardashian, Biden, Donald Trump, Terry, Justice Department, Jared, Trump


"Justice Clarence Thomas, who once went a decade without asking a question from the Supreme Court bench, is about to complete a term in which he was an active participant in every single argument...."

"The justices now ask questions one at a time, in order of seniority. Justice Thomas, who joined the court in 1991, goes second, right after Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., asking probing questions in his distinctive baritone....  If Justice Thomas’s questions differed from those of his colleagues, it was in their courtesy. He almost never interrupted lawyers, though he asked pointed follow-up questions if there was time left. Some of his most memorable comments were colorful asides. Over...
Tags: Supreme Court, Law, Louisiana, Thomas, Adam Liptak, Clarence Thomas, John G Roberts Jr, Unsaid Things, Race Consciousness, Ann Althouse, Georgetown 's Supreme Court Institute, Irv Gornstein


Unusual alliance of justices holds government to strict notice requirement in removal proceedings

On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision in Niz-Chavez v. Garland, opting for a strict reading of an immigration statute that turns on whether the government has provided proper notice to a noncitizen to appear for removal proceedings. By holding the government to the plain language of the statute, and by refusing to accommodate immigration agencies’ desire for flexibility, the majority handed a win to noncitizens and their advocates, who have long criticized the government’s piecem...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, United States, Biden, John Roberts, NTA, Pereira, U S Court of Appeals, Garland, Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Kavanaugh, INA


Justices and litigants spar over whether renewable-fuel law creates a “funnel” or a “safety valve”

The Supreme Court heard oral argument Tuesday in HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC v. Renewable Fuels Association, which considers whether small refiners can take advantage of a compliance exemption in the Renewable Fuel Standard program if they have not received that exemption continuously. (The full statutory scheme is elaborated here.) The petitioners are three small refineries who argue that the word “extension” in the statute’s exemption language provides a metaphorical safety valve for...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Senate, Epa, Environmental Protection Agency, Chevron, Thomas, Morrison, John Roberts, Roberts, Alito, Renewable Fuels Association, Stephen Breyer, Breyer


One new case, two issues of appellate procedure

The Relist Watch column examines cert petitions that the Supreme Court has “relisted” for its upcoming conference. A short explanation of relists is available here. A lot of movement on the relist front this week. The court granted review in relisted cases involving the first two amendments to the U.S. Constitution, summarily overturned a court of appeals decision in a relisted habeas case for the second time in a month, and denied leave to file an “original jurisdiction” lawsuit between two st...
Tags: Health, Featured, Maryland, Supreme Court, Law, United States, Johnson, DOE, Ericsson, Tcl, Ortiz, Scott, HARRIS, Allen, Dobbs, Fifth Third Bancorp


Court rules against government on technical question of notice requirement in immigration law

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a 6-3 opinion in Niz-Chavez v. Garland, reversing a lower court’s decision that had limited access to “cancellation of removal,” an important form of relief for noncitizens in deportation proceedings. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion, adopting a rigid interpretation of a federal statute that requires the government to serve a “notice to appear” in order to trigger the “stop-time” rule. That rule can foreclose access to immigration relief by pr...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, John Roberts, Garland, Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Gorsuch, Merits Cases, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, Stephen Breyer Sonia Sotomayor, Niz Chavez


Justices weigh available defenses to criminal re-entry for certain immigrants

The court heard argument on Tuesday in United States v. Palomar-Santiago, a case involving certain noncitizens’ ability to defend themselves from federal charges for re-entering the country after they were deported. The charge of criminal re-entry requires the prior existence of a removal order entered by a federal immigration agency. In Refugio Palomar-Santiago’s case, that prior removal order did exist. However, the Supreme Court’s 2004 decision in Leocal v. Ashcroft, decided after the entry ...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, United States, Ross, Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Garcia, John Roberts, Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Breyer, Elena Kagan


Justices ponder narrow ruling in student speech case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday appeared conflicted over a school district’s plea to be allowed to discipline students for their speech outside of school. Some justices expressed concern about whether allowing schools to regulate off-campus speech could sweep in too much speech by young people, while others worried that – particularly in the internet era – a contrary rule would give too little weight to the harmful effects that some speech, such as cyberbullying, can have at school even when it ...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Pennsylvania, Levy, Michael Jordan, Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Stewart, John Roberts, American Civil Liberties Union, Blatt, Roberts, David Cole, Howe, Alito


Court wrestles with Superfund contribution puzzle

Monday’s argument in Guam v. United States featured sharply different interpretations of the contribution provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, also known as CERCLA or the Superfund statute. Guam is appealing a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that the territory is time-barred from seeking contribution from the U.S. Navy for the cost of cleaning up the Ordot Dump. The Navy created the dump during the 1940s...
Tags: Featured, Law, Navy, Massachusetts, United States, Wyoming, Epa, CWA, Environmental Protection Agency, Sonia Sotomayor, U S Navy, Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Guam, Samuel Alito


Court to take up major gun-rights case

Over a decade after it ruled that the Second Amendment protects the right to have a handgun in the home for self-defense, the Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide whether the Constitution also protects the right to carry a gun outside the home. The justices’ announcement that they will take up a challenge to a New York law that requires anyone who wants to carry a gun in the state to show a good reason for doing so sets the stage for a major ruling on gun rights in the court’s 2021-22 term....
Tags: New York, Featured, Supreme Court, Law, New York City, District Of Columbia, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Thomas, John Roberts, McDonald, Howe, U S Court of Appeals, City of Chicago, 7th Circuit, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito



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