READ THAT BACK: End of SCOTUS Term Gives Travel Ban New Beginning


Boy howdy what a week! Opinionpalooza has not disappointed, with eleven decisions last week, and another five?...six?...sort of?...this morning—including the justices’ first go at the Travel Ban. Plus some surprising orders and opinions relating to them (ORTOs, for the uninitiated). It’s enough to make a Court Reporter’s head spin! Never fear though—Read That Back is a no spin zone! But like an actual one.

Opinions, Opinions Everywhere: So if you look at the “Recent Decisions” section of the Supreme Court’s webpage, you see six links with today’s date, covering cases from securities litigation to birth certificates to, yes, the Travel Ban. For our full rundown on those, and the various other grants, denials, and other orders, click here. Also, there’s the some-would-say surprising grant in Masterpiece Cakeshop, which was relisted a whopping fifteen times. Why so many relists with nothing (yet) written? The nine people who are able to say won’t, so we’re left to speculate.

But Wait, There’s More: But in the Court Reporter’s opinion, six opinions is a little misleading. If anything, it’s too few, because today’s orders list has opinions (not decisions) in an additional three cases, from sentencing to veterans’ benefits to, perhaps most importantly, gun rights. Justice Gorsuch apparently felt the need to say something about every single one.

But See: And maybe it also feels like too many. Hernandez v. Mesa was decided on a narrower ground than anyone seemed to think possible, and even the Travel Ban decision only kind of sort of lifted the stay on its enforcement. It can only be enforced against people who have no connection to the United States, but the only example we’re given of someone who wouldn’t qualify is someone who has bootstrapped their claim, which leaves a lot of room for more debate and litigation between now and next fall. So, if an opinion falls on the last day of the term and leaves everyone scratching their heads…is it really an opinion?

Gold, Frankincense, and…: Some property owners (subscription required) lost their takings case against the state of Wisconsin. Oh, and this header is funny because it’s the Murr family. Just laugh, okay?

Getcher Disparaging Trademarks Here!: The Supreme Court struck down a law that blocked the registration of disparaging trademarks, rejecting an argument that it was government speech and properly regulated. If that was so, Justice Alito said, “the Federal Government is babbling prodigiously and incoherently.” Yes, well. Ahem. Just don’t expect the Court Reporter to start calling Washington’s NFL franchise by their chosen name anytime soon, notwithstanding the apparent success of their edible crotchless gummy panties argument, which is a phrase the Washington Post actually published. And they say journalism is dying.

Loaded Weapon: Will Ziglar—the decision ending a suit stemming from the alleged widespread detention of Muslims and Arabs in the wake of 9/11 (subscription required)—be someday remembered the same way that Korematsu is today? Justice Breyer seems to think so, and if we were living in a play he could well prove correct. But never mind that, what might it mean for the Travel Ban? Or, well, have meant? Or, actually, will mean next October?

Tell Me Lies: Mark Twain—or whoever it was—must have forgotten about the fourth category of lies. In addition to lies, damned lies, and statistics, he omitted nonmaterial lies that played no role in a decision to grant citizenship. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must be busting out the Fleetwood Mac—these sweet little nonmaterial lies are not enough to revoke your naturalization (subscription required), the Supreme Court held.

What Goes Around: The lawsuits conservative states brought against the Obama administration, grounded in lawsuits brought by liberal states against the Bush 43 administration, may be paving the way for liberal states to sue the Trump administration. A riddle: If what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, what’s good for Ryan Gosling? Answer: The Court Reporter’s phone number. RYAN CALL ME

Black Letter, Red Ink, Green Leaves: Marijuana product makers in Colorado are going from counter-culture to over-the-counter-culture, and tight regulations are helping them make the transition. This is true even against an unfriendly federal backdrop that means that most marijuana-related companies facing the risk of burnout (rookie mistake, Mo) can’t get federal bankruptcy help. And if we keep having this much marilawna news, we may have to have a separate RTB section for it.

Media Stars Behind Bars: Arguments in the post-conviction case of Adnan Syed, the subject of season one of the Serial podcast, suggest that defense attorneys—universally known as slackers—may have a duty in Maryland to pursue alibi witnesses (subscription required), even if they undermine the defense theory of the case. And the subject of the documentary “Making a Murderer” has won (subscription required) his petition for habeas corpus—he’ll either have to be resentenced, or else he’ll break free.

Beat the Clock: While many of us were enjoying a beer and watching Atlanta crash and burn worse than any time since William Tecumseh Sherman came to town, these attorneys (subscription required) were scrambling, on short notice, to finish an amicus brief—which has since become a model for several others—opposing the Travel Ban. So next time your boss gives you sixteen hours to complete a major project, you know whom to blame.

ICYMI:

  • The Supreme Court put more limits on the power of state courts to hear cases against corporations, which may have particularly strong effects in drug cases (subscription required)—some felt right away. You may all make your own jokes about consumers being too poor to even go forum shopping.
  • It’s hard to make jokes about sex offenders because the entire topic is so deeply unfunny. Like those minions memes your spinster aunt is always posting to Facebook. Which those same sex offenders now have the right to see too.
  • A condemned killer in Alabama may need to be resentenced (subscription required) because the state didn’t give him an adequate mental health evaluation before he was condemned. Apparently the Alabama Lunacy Commission didn’t cut it. Yes, that’s what it was called. No, for some reason, they don’t have a webpage.
  • These convicted killers (subscription required) didn’t fare as well.
  • And neither did this one (subscription required), even though Justice Kagan thought the court put him in a “Kafkaesque” position.
  • The Supreme Court’s opinion page has implemented a feature where rolling over the name of an opinion gets you a brief description of the holding. We don’t know who writes them, but it isn’t this Court Reporter. Well, not yet. If they want some sass in their blurbs, though, they know whom to call.
  • As many law school students learn, Duty to Rescue laws are difficult to implement and enforce. But as this law student also learned, sometimes being a Good Samaritan pays off anyway.
  • Remember when the Court Reporter complained that no one asked what First Amendment basis a complaint against Trump for blocking Twitter users should be? It turns out, maybe someone did listen, after all. *hair flip*

And Now…Some (More!) Culture: Copyright Infringement? Fuhgeddaboudit. A federal judge in Nevada not named Frankie, Bob, Tommy or Nick sang a different tune from a jury that found for a writer claiming those “Jersey Boys” eyes adored his biographical work a little too much. Nope, it was just fair use.