Wednesday round-up

For USA Today, Richard Wolf reports that President Donald Trump was “without a Supreme Court quorum” in the audience for last night’s State of the Union address, and that “[t]he four justices who [were] in attendance — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s lone appointee — represent diverse ideologies.” At The Daily Caller, Kevin Daley reports that “[t]hough the configuration of justices who attend the event has fluctuated over the years, one variable remains constant — [Justice Ruth Bader] Ginsburg has never attended an address to Congress given by a Republican president.” Additional coverage of the justices’ patterns of attendance at the speech comes from Ariane de Vogue at CNN, who reports that “[o]ver the years, some combination of justices have always crossed the street to attend the speech, but others have refrained either due to scheduling conflicts or the feeling that the event has devolved into what the late Justice Antonin Scalia referred to as a ‘childish spectacle.’”


  • At Constitution Daily, Lyle Denniston reports that the Supreme Court’s elections-clause jurisprudence “creates a dilemma for the Justices as they decide soon what to do about the claim that Pennsylvania’s state legislature engaged in partisan gerrymandering when it drew up election districts for choosing the state’s 18 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.”
  • Subscript offers a graphic explainer for the Stored Communications Act, a federal law that “limited the rights of private parties (for example, those companies that transmit our data) to expose information” and that is implicated in two Fourth Amendment cases this term, Carpenter v. United States and United States v. Microsoft Corp..
  • Counting to 5 (podcast) features a preview of City of Hays v. Vogt, which asks whether a probable cause hearing is part of a criminal case within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment’s self-incrimination clause.
  • For The New York Times, Adam Liptak looks at Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky, which asks the justices to decide “whether people can be forced to choose between their right to express themselves and their right to vote.”
  • At Mother Jones, Pema Levy maintains that because the Supreme Court has put a hold on lower-court orders requiring that new electoral maps be drawn “[i]n Texas, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, [where] Democratic plaintiffs have successfully convinced federal district courts that their states’ political maps [are] unconstitutional,” voters in those states will be “stuck in unfairly drawn districts for yet another election cycle.”
  • At Empirical SCOTUS, Adam Feldman examines “the most antagonistic pairs of justices based on majority and dissent authorship” since Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court in 2005, concluding that “the justices’ ideological differences do not seem to be the main feature driving these regular entanglements.”

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