READ THAT BACK: Kennedy-Watch, Back to the Valley, and Coulrophobia

Everyone seems to be losing their minds over the eclipse today. I mean, they’re cool and all, don’t get me wrong, but they happen pretty frequently. Still, anything that gets Bonnie Tyler back in the spotlight is fine with the Court Reporter, even if her song isn’t actually about eclipses, and even if the best version of the video is the literal one. On to the courts.

Gone-y: As Confederate monuments come down across the country (Did anyone else do a double take on Helena and Seattle? Given that…and that…), one in particular may be—well, not near and dear, more like the opposite of that—to the hearts of Court Watchers. A statue of Roger B. Taney (which was apparently pronounced “tawny”), author of the infamous Dred Scott decision, was removed from the Maryland statehouse grounds overnight (joining four more, including another of Taney, removed from Baltimore earlier in the week).

U.S. v. U.S.: If we’ve learned anything in the last seven months, it’s that elections have consequences. At the Supreme Court, that sometimes means that the United States ends up facing off against…itself? Okay not exactly, but the NLRB and the Solicitor General’s Office will be on opposite sides of the lectern—and the v.—when the court kicks off October Term 2017 with a trio of consolidated cases, including NLRB v. Murphy Oil USA.

This Week in Kennedy-Watch: Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) acknowledges that he’s not expecting another Supreme Court vacancy in the near future. Meaning that it’s very unlikely that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy will be retiring any time soon—although one look at the already-granted cases this term rather strongly suggested that anyway. This has the feel of a mic-drop kind of term. No imminent departure is probably good news for Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who won’t have to try to block another conservative judicial nominee with fewer than 50 votes. What is it about Senators named Charles E. something? Maybe this guy should run for Senate. I hear there’s an opening on the Pizza, Animatronics, and Crappy Prizes Committee.

Spokeo Too Soon: Spokeo Inc. v. Robins was a blockbuster that wasn’t. It had the potential to rewrite standing law, but in the end the Supreme Court took a much narrower view of the case, leaving both sides claiming victory—which is I guess what you do when you’re left holding half a baby. So the case went back down to the Ninth Circuit, which…basically came to the same conclusion as it had the first time. Will it stick this time? Or will we have to start talking about Spokeo II?

Doesn’t Seem to Be Anyone Around: Believe it or not the Court Reporter was once a teenager, and has therefore spent a considerable amount of time at the shopping mall. But shopping malls as we once knew them, for better or worse (subscription required), are a dying breed. Where will the next generation discover their Tiffany?* Guys, that was like seriously a thing that TOTALLY happened. (h/t the Court Reporter’s friend J, who remembers the ’80s better than I.)

* The Court Reporter suspects that the answer to this question is YouTube, and that Justin Bieber is the new Tiffany.

Ag-Gag Me With a Spoon: Several states have passed laws attempting to restrict access to agricultural sites to document alleged animal abuse. Two of the “ag-gag” laws have been struck down, and their fate on appeal may be key to whether they will flower or flounder. (See what I did there?)

Hopes and Cy Pres-ers: So you’ve reached a class settlement for $800,000, to be distributed via a not-at-all transparent process in a mostly useless form, with the remainder—still in mostly-useless form—to be distributed cy pres to a relevant charity. But they can’t use it, so it’s going to a different charity, which also can’t use it, and so...wait, whose idea was this anyway?


  • Yes, apparently mislabeling someone as a racist could get you sued for libel.
  • Relatedly, the ACLU will no longer defend the free speech rights of hate groups seeking to march with firearms.
  • A federal judge has deemed “frivolous” a suit that, among other things, requested that the court direct Congress to create a censored, official version of the Koran. I feel unconstitutional just having typed that sentence.
  • As we learned in June, white lies won’t cost you your naturalization. Nor, apparently, will they cost you your bankruptcy (subscription required). Which is good because presumably you couldn’t pay for it if you had to. Because you’re bankrupt. Look, it’s been a long week.

And Now…Are you Down with the Clown? Remember when clowns were fun? There was Clarabell and Bozo and even Ronald McDonald. Then they got all dark and scary. I don’t know if I should blame Pennywise, or this bed, or what. And then there’s…well, then there’s the Insane Clown Posse. Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope and I have no idea which is which. And then there are their followers, who call themselves the Juggalos, and occasionally they gather (this site I can get to from work, but not the Xbox site? OKAY I.T. OVERLORDS, WHATEVER) and this September they’re coming to DC to march! This in apparent protest of their classification by the FBI as a loosely-organized and occasionally criminal nationwide white gang. The Court Reporter thinks this gives them perhaps too much credit, but the Court Reporter lacks law enforcement experience. Some of them actually sued about the classification in 2014, arguing that it subjected them to legal harassment. They lost, then won, then lost again. Coincidentally, their march—planned for more than a year—coincides with at least one pro-Trump rally on the National Mall. There’s no way this ends badly…right?