READ THAT BACK: Hole in My Soul Edition


Another week of oral arguments down, and that’s the first session of OT17 finished. But it feels a bit…empty, you know? Sure, there was some excitement—but it feels a bit of a let-down after last week’s party, and the travel ban case was conspicuously absent, not only missing from the calendar (although it appears that not everyone got the message in time!), but later dismissed as moot. And we didn’t get any grants on Friday! What’s a Court Reporter to do?


It’s My (Third) Party: Hey, just because last week was sucharager, doesn’t mean we can’t keep it going this week! Like the feds, who have brought some of their friends to try to convince the Supreme Court that the third party doctrine—which says that the government doesn’t need a warrant to get information about you that you’ve voluntarily disclosed to a third party—does, or should, apply to cell site location records! That’s fun, right?

Staying in My Own (Memory) Lane: When the Court Reporter was younger, and Pontiac (they built excitement!) was still a thing, there were few cars cooler than the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. First there was the Smokey and the Banditspecial, complete with screaming chicken (yes, that’s what people call it). Good for decoying county mounties (wait, that was Jackie Gleason!?) from your convoy. THEN there was the Knight Industries Two Thousand—more commonly known at K.I.T.T. (Can you believe they tried to remake the show with a Mustang? Blasphemy.) Good for catching bad guys and driving itself—which it could do! Knight Rider convinced a lot of us that we’d have self-driving cars by now. We’re not quite there yet, but companies like Tesla, with its autopilot feature, are getting close. The feature is good for people who want to relax a bit during their commute—but it’s also good for Tesla, which is using the data their cars collect in ways you might not expect.

Am I Blue? (Slips): After some will he/won’t he/can he? on blue slips for judicial nominees—the kooky Senate tradition that lets a senator block a judicial nominee to a seat on the federal bench in their state—from the man who single-handedly kept the Senate from considering an appointment to the Supreme Court for more than a year, Mitch McConnell plots a strategy to implement conservative goals.

Out of (Gun) Control: The Supreme Court hasn’t touched gun control in a long time—not in any particularly meaningful way since 2008’s D.C. v. Heller. But in the wake of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas (on which The Onion has an exemplary take), and with a number of Second Amendment cases percolating through the courts, surely they’re likely to take one up soon? As it turns out...probably not (subscription required). On the other hand, a recent 9th Circuit decision (subscription required) may give them another opportunity.


  • Check out our oral argument coverage! DO IT
  • Already facing thousands of suits linking its talc products to ovarian cancer, Johnson & Johnson will soon be facing a suit alleging that it failed to warn of asbestos in the same products
  • Just in time for Halloween: CHAINSAW-WIELDING NUN. That is all.
  • Harvard Law School professor Mark Tushnet suggests that he’s an anti-contrarian, noting that contrarianism isn’t an intellectual virtue. He also uses a phrase that describes several people the Court Reporter has dated—“superficially interesting but deeply terrible.”

And Now…From the Obscure Amendment File: If you needed some help figuring out what the 25th Amendment was last week, you could have asked this woman (for some reason, it’s really easy to find clips of the action scenes from this movie on YouTube, but not so much for the cabinet meetings—what’s that about? Anyway, here’s Wonderwall...uh...I mean, here's “Get off my plane!”), but you’re not alone. It permits the Vice President to act as President in case of the incapacity of the latter, and has been invoked three times—interestingly enough, all for colon issues. Make of that what you will. Yet buried deep in this Vanity Fair piece, Gabe Sherman reports that Steve Bannon believed that the amendment was the biggest threat to Trump’s presidency. Removal via the amendment isn’t likely, of course. Even if Trump doesn’t appear to know what it is, despite a working knowledge—and respect for—the plot of “Air Force One”.