Monday round-up

At NPR, Nina Totenberg reports on the debut of Justice Neil Gorsuch, concluding that Gorsuch “is probably even more conservative than the justice he replaced, Antonin Scalia”; she also reports that Gorsuch may soon lose his place as the most junior justice, because “it is unlikely that [Justice Anthony] Kennedy will remain on the court for the full four years of the Trump presidency”: Although Kennedy “long ago hired his law clerks for the coming term, he has not done so for the following term (beginning Oct. 2018), and has let applicants for those positions know he is considering retirement.” At the Election Law Blog, Rick Hasen notes that a Kennedy retirement at the end of next term would allow the justice “to go out on a high note, deciding the fate of partisan gerrymandering, gay rights, and who knows what else.” At Think Progress, Ian Millhiser asserts that “if Gorsuch gets his way, some very basic civil rights will bow to the Christian right.”

At Stanford Law School’s Legal Aggregate blog, Michael McConnell weighs in on the recent decision in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, in which the court held that “it violates the Free Exercise Clause for the state to exclude an organization from participation in an otherwise neutral public benefit program solely because of its religious character”; McConnell maintains that the “decision … brought welcome clarity to an area of constitutional law that is susceptible to confusion and demagoguery.” At Jost on Justice, Ken Jost observes that the “question now is whether the surprisingly easy case will make bad law by limiting the power of states to enforce constitutional provisions prohibiting government assistance to private schools, whether secular or sectarian.” At Take Care, Caroline Mala Corbin maintains that the decision in Trinity Lutheran “deals a double blow to the Establishment Clause.”

Briefly:

  • Bijal Shah considers the recent term’s two cases involving the definition of an “aggravated felony” in the immigration laws at Take Care, one of which will be reargued next term, arguing that “it is the federal government’s responsibility to define immigration violations—and in particular, aggravated felonies—precisely.”
  • In a podcast at Constituting America, Steven Aden looks back at Gonzales v. Carhart, the partial-birth abortion case that “stands as a reminder that when it comes to Supreme Court jurisprudence, elections can and do make a difference.”
  • Two segments of The View, here and here, feature an interview with the baker at the heart of next term’s religious-freedom case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
  • At the Cato Institute’s Cato at Liberty blog, Ilya Shapiro and Thomas Berry weigh in on a cert petition in a case challenging a Minnesota law that bans “the wearing of any ‘political badge, political button, or other political insignia’ in or around the polling place on election day”; they argue that “[c]oncerns about the electoral process can’t justify a ban on speech that is unrelated to any issue or candidate on the ballot.”
  • At Empirical SCOTUS, Adam Feldman evaluates “the most successful firms, litigators, and groups before the Supreme Court during the 2016 term.”
  • The Daily Journal’s Weekly Appellate Report podcast features a discussion of the court’s final rulings of the term and a preview of some major cases on next term’s docket.
  • At Constitution Daily Abigail Perkiss marks the 12th anniversary of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement and looks at O’Connor’s legacy “as both the first female justice and as a critical swing vote on an increasingly politicized Court.”
  • At Take Care’s Versus Trump podcast, Charlie Gerstein and Easha Anand discuss next term’s partisan-gerrymandering case, Gill v. Whitford, in which the court “may boldly announce a new rule that might seriously curb partisan gerrymandering—or … may entirely stop courts from being able to hear these cases at all.”

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