READ THAT BACK: Week of June 12, 2017

In the wake of #ComeyDay—maybe you were one of the lucky Washingtonians who watched the hearings at a local bar—the Court Reporter understands if maybe you missed some of this week’s biggest legal news. That’s why we’re here!

SCOTUS Action: Read That Back is a Monday project. You know what else happens on Mondays this time of year? The Supreme Court gets a little crazy. Today we got significant opinions from the court on discrimination in the context of immigration rules and class action procedures. Justice Gorsuch also issued his first opinion—it was unanimous—backing debt collectors in an FDCPA dispute.

Today!: “On the boats and on the planes/They’re coming to America,” Neil Diamond once sang. But he might have to adjust the lyrics soon, if they’re coming from one of six predominantly Muslim countries and if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to take up the challenge to Trump’s travel ban. If the court does take the case, they might look for a procedural way of avoiding the religious discrimination question (subscription required). Challengers to the ban filed their opposition to the government’s request for review…well, you know when.

Looking for Something in Particular: In 2015 the FBI ran a child pornography sting operation on a dark web site called Playpen. A warrant allowed them to hack into the computers of users to determine their identities, leading to thousands of searches and scores of convictions. But did the warrant sufficiently limit its parameters to meet the Fourth Amendment’s particularity requirement? (subscription required)

What’s in a Name?: In the children’s classic “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” haughty Alice reminds the other children that Jesus should be called “Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Scrappy Imogen Herdman responds, “He’d never get out of the first grade if he had to write all that!” A personification of Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar’s implied certification theory (that's quite a handle too) would likely face a similar difficulty. Last year’s “bouncing baby fraud theory” is nearing one year old—how is it growing into its sesquipedalian name?

Nom nom nom: The White House announced eleven more nominations to the federal bench, including one to fill Justice Neil M. Gorsuch’s former seat.

Nom nom nom

Speaking of the Munchies: Big news in marijuana law (marilawna? marijualaw? lawilawlaw? The Court Reporter seeks your feedback) this week. Colorado landowners may have a narrow way forward in their suit against state-licensed marijuana growers. They’re complaining about the noxious smells, apparently? Residents of the Court Reporter’s neighborhood in Washington (where marijuana is…relationship status: it’s complicated) wouldn’t know anything about that. And Tippecanoe County, Indiana residents seeking to spread that odor to the Hoosier state won a preliminary injunction (subscription required) against a policy that required them to get approval from the county board before protesting on the courthouse steps.

Space Law!: It’s a thing, and according to attorney and Society of Satellite Professionals International Hall of Fame (which is also apparently a thing) member Del Smith it may be the next big thing! So thing about that. (Trivium: The full name of Addams Family character Thing was Thing Thing Thing. You’re welcome.)


  • More on Carpenter, the “extremely significant” case the Supreme Court will hear about whether a warrant is needed to get mobile phone location records during criminal investigations.
  • A $315 million judgment against Sudan arising from the 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole hangs in the balance as the Supreme Court ponders review (subscription required). Khartoum may have an unlikely ally in its appeal—Washington.
  • Alleged NSA leaker Reality Winner—a person whose name in juxtaposition with the context of her fame is possibly the perfect allegory for U.S. politics in 2017—may be facing some of the same consequences (subscription required) as Edward Snowden. But who will play her in the movie?
  • Consumers are 840 times more likely to get sick and 45 times more likely to be hospitalized from consuming unpasteurized dairy compared with pasteurized products, according to latest CDC data. And along with these additional illnesses will come more litigation, nationally recognized attorneys at the center of the issue told Bloomberg BNA.
  • Oh also there were some actual Supreme Court opinions last week:
    • The ERISA church plan exception can apply even to the merely church-adjacent.
    • Statutes of limitations apply to SEC disgorgement actions, too. Disgorgement. DisGORGEment. Disgorgement. Okay, got that out of our system.
    • And two more (both subscription required) even wonkier than those.
  • Something Literary: Justice Ginsburg's financial disclosures for 2016 showed she received $204,534 in royalties from her book to lead all justices.

And Now…Lalalala I Can’t Hear You!: The Knight First Amendment Institute thinks it may be unconstitutional for Donald Trump to block users on Twitter. Bloomberg columnist and Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman gives them “kudos for creativity,” but thinks they’re wrong. The Court Reporter wonders if this might have been better framed not as an issue of free speech, but as the right to petition for a redress of grievances. The right to speak doesn’t require that anyone listen, but the government can’t help if it can’t hear. But no one asked the Court Reporter, did they.