READ THAT BACK: Week of June 5, 2017


 

A lot happens in and around America’s courts each week, and we here at Bloomberg BNA know it can be a lot to keep on top of. That’s why every Monday we’ll put together a selection of some of our finest reporting, other news and notes, and the occasional bit of humor. We’re here to make sure you pick up on some of the details you may have missed the first time around—think of us as your Court Reporter.

Drawing the Line: Poor Elbridge Gerry. Fifth Vice President of the United States, ninth Governor of Massachusetts, and all anyone remembers him for is a salamander-shaped electoral district around Boston that he didn’t even represent. The partisan phenomenon that bears his name can’t even get that right—Gerry was said with a hard g. Still, partisan gerrymandering is incredibly important, and some say out of control. It’s why, for example, Wisconsin Republicans won only 48.6% of the votes, but 60.6% of legislative seats, in 2012 elections. Until now, attempts to curb partisan gerrymanders have foundered on how to tell when they’re too partisan. But plaintiffs challenging those Wisconsin districts think they’ve found a measure (subscription only) for partisanship that can get at least five Supreme Court votes.

Where in the World Is…: Carmen Sandiego would likely have a much harder time keeping her whereabouts hidden these days. Cell phone-based location tracking is increasingly common—but can the government get that data to help find criminals (or superspies)? Now the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case on whether getting historical location data counts as a Fourth Amendment search. The case has been getting a lot of attention, and the Fifth Circuit just ruled that even obtaining prospective location data is allowed. But a gadgetless globe-trekking agent is unheard of. What’s a superspy to do without her phone?

Arbitration Mixed Bag: It occurred to the Court Reporter the other day while watching daytime TV that Judge Judy is just a very brief, on-camera, binding arbitration. Never you mind why Judge Judy was on in the first place! Arbitration might actually be a great deal more popular among consumers if Judge Judy were in charge, but as it turns out, a lot of effort has been put into getting out of or limiting consumer arbitration clauses. In the Obama administration, consumers had a sympathetic ear, and six regulations limiting consumer arbitration were working their way through agency processes. Since January, those six rules have had varying fates (subscription only)—three dead, two spared, and one very much up in the air.

KennedyWatch 2017: It seems the national pastime, at least around the Supreme Court, is speculating whether, or when, Justice Kennedy will retire. As is often the case with these games, everything becomes a tea leaf. For example, Kennedy hired a clerk for the 2018 term, which begins next October. But only one! LIKE A RETIRED JUSTICE. Surely he’ll be retiring over summer 2018, then? Except that Kennedy doesn’t usually hire this early at all, and when he does it’s only one clerk and the rest come later, so move along nothing to see here.

Racing Fever: The month of May is one of America’s fastest. The 143rd Kentucky Derby was won May 6 by Always Dreaming, and Takuma Sato won the 101st Indy 500 May 28. But now that it’s June, there’s another race heating up at the Supreme Court: Who writes opinions the fastest? Since 2010, “Rapid” Ruth Bader Ginsburg and “Swift” Sonia Sotomayor have dominated that prestigious competition. With less than a month left in the term, they’re neck and neck. And down the stretch they come…!

ICYMI:

And Now…Something Sweet: As it turns out, opportunities to play casual online and mobile games are worth something! At least, enough to maintain a suit against the maker of Candy Crush for allegedly denying a player game lives he had been given by Facebook friends. This is also probably the best headline you’ll read all week.