READ THAT BACK: Happy Fourth, Crying Wolf, and Kung Fu Fighting

What a last couple of weeks! Perhaps you’ll forgive the Court Reporter for being a bit wiped out. Luckily it’s a holiday week, and the Supreme Court is beginning its three-month summer break. But that doesn’t mean the Court Reporter stops! The Supreme Court had clean-up orders, the justices will do their various summer things, oh and I guess there are other courts still doing their thing too. So break out the bunting, put on “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” and Read That Back!

Oh-oh-oh: If the recent Supreme Court were an Oreo cookie (just let that phrase sink in for a second, grab a glass of milk if you have to, the Court Reporter will wait), there would be four justices in the creamy white center (subscription required). But with a number of explosive cases coming up next term, which way will the cookie crumble? (Sorry...kind of.) DID YOU KNOW: Hydrox cookies actually predate Oreos.

He’s No Malcolm: Not in the middle, though, is Justice Gorsuch. In fact he seems to be picking up pretty much where Scalia left off. This cannot possibly have been a surprise.

Everybody’s a Comedian: Even the Supreme Court, occasionally! Take a listen to some of the funniest moments of October Term 2016. Look, they’re trying, okay? Not everyone brings the funny like the Court Reporter.

And You Thought Politics Was Toxic: Marc Kasowitz is defending Donald Trump in the Russia probe—and if that wasn’t hazardous enough for you, his law firm is also suing chemical companies for failing to report chemical-related dangers, using a novel interpretation of the Civil War-era False Claims Act.

Well, Politics and Airplane Cabins Apparently: No one—well, almost no one—wants to ride on the outside of the airplane, but riding inside may have its dangers, too. At least according to some plaintiffs, bleed air taken from jet engine bypass and compressed for cabin circulation—you know, so you can breathe—may in certain circumstances also contain toxic fumes from jet fuel, hydraulic fluid or deicing agent. But are they just blowing smoke? Just in time for the summer travel season!

The Mafioso Who Cried Wolf: There’s a Simpsons episode where Bart repeatedly gets out of a test by faking illness, despite repeated reminders about the Boy Who Cried Wolf. When finally forced to take the test he is, of course, literally mauled by a wolf. (Mauled? That’s our secret word for the day!) So, too, the case of Mafioso Greg Scarpa Jr. (subscription required), who had regularly lied to the FBI about some of the biggest terrorism plots of the 1990s, but then wanted a sentence reduction when, one time, he didn’t. No surprise, the courts didn’t buy it. (But they also didn’t literally maul him, so there’s that.) (An aside: There should be a Simpsons Corollary to Rule 34: There is a Simpsons reference appropriate for any situation.)


  • Part of Trump’s reinstated Travel Ban went into effect at 8 p.m. Thursday. To the surprise of literally no one, its reach and validity is already being tested—and protested.
  • Footnote 4 of Carolene Products is often seen as the wellspring of modern constitutional jurisprudence, turning a fairly modest holding into something much bigger. Footnote 3 of Trinity Lutheran seems to be trying to do the opposite—keeping what could have been a sweeping holding very, very tightly cabined. Will it be successful? (subscription required)
  • The U.S. Supreme Court summarily reversed (subscription required) the Arkansas Supreme Court, which had held that the state was not required to list a mother's same-sex spouse on a child's birth certificate, even though it generally required a mother's male spouse to be named regardless of a biological relationship to the child.
    • But, the Texas Supreme Court also jumped into the fray, adding employee benefits to the list of things that will ultimately define the reach of the landmark decision in Obergefell. (See also: wedding cakes)(subscription required)
  • Having rejected a novel Bivens claim (subscription required) for being a novel Bivens claim the previous week, the Supreme Court last week revived a different novel Bivens claim enough to send it down for reconsideration in light of the earlier rejection. Sure, why not. Still, it could go either way. (subscription required)

And Now…Kung Fu Fighting!: Apparently going up against DreamWorks in an IP suit is much like getting involved in a land war in Asia—it doesn’t generally end well for the aggressor. So too the story of Jayme Gordon, who doctored some drawings and a story he had previously made to look more like Kung Fu Panda and sued the studio. He lost, in no small part because he had himself copied the drawings from an earlier Disney The Lion King coloring book. For his efforts, he’ll spend two years in prison and must pay more than $3 million in restitution. Okay so it wasn’t exactly the Battle of Borodino….


(The Court Reporter is the nom de plume of Bloomberg Law editorial staff in Washington who cover litigation and the courts. For the best in news, innovative analytics, research tools, and practical guidance, take a free trial of Bloomberg Law.)