SUPREME COURT’S ‘BUSY’ WEEK

'Busy' Week at SCOTUS

It was a busy week at the U.S. Supreme Court this week… and by “busy,” I mean not busy.

The court tossed an antitrust case scheduled for later in the December sitting after getting “snookered” by the petitioner.

After moving around its calendar to spread out the remaining arguments, the court was left with only three oral arguments for the week—one for each of its argument days.

That continues the trend of a pretty light term. In fact, the court’s 20 arguments so far this term are the lowest number for the past decade.

Oral Arguments

The good news is that this summary won’t take that long! So let’s get started.

Monday’s only argument was in Beckles v. United States, No. 15-8544. This is yet another installment of the seemingly never-ending saga of the fallout from the court’s 2015 decision in Johnson v. United States.

In Johnson, the Supreme Court struck down the “residual clause” of the Armed Career Criminal Act as unconstitutionally vague.

That same language appears in the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, and the petitioners want the court to strike down that use too.

But the guidelines’ discretionary nature might foil their plan, according to Bloomberg BNA’s criminal law reporter Alisa Johnson.

Read why here.

Tuesday brought another longtime debate—that over when and whether states can execute individuals who have a mental disability.

The court has already determined that states can’t execute the mentally disabled. In Moore v. Texas, No. 15-797, the justices “wrestled with how states may determine who qualifies as mentally disabled,” Bloomberg BNA’s Nick Datlowe says.

Texas’s use of outdated standards to determine mental disability is the target in this one, and Nick says the Lone Star State is likely to lose.

All eyes are on swing-Justice Anthony Kennedy here. Read why Nick thinks he’s leaning toward the death row inmate.

Finally, Wednesday brought … yep, you guessed it … another ongoing battle. This one is over the detention of immigrants.

At issue in Jennings v. Rodriguez, No. 15-1204 are “thousands of immigrants awaiting a decision whether they can remain legally in the U.S.”

They claim that “they are entitled to bond hearings, rather than being forced to rely on the more difficult habeas procedure.”

This one seems like a good candidate for the term’s first evenly split decision. Read my take here.

That’s it for this week’s oral arguments. The court will be back for four new arguments next week.

Until then, stay on top of the latest Supreme Court news with a  free trial  to United States Law Week.