Longtime readers may be interested in my recent essay on SCOTUS Repeaters, or cases that the US Supreme Court hears more than once. Here’s how my essay starts:
It’s every academic blogger’s dream to prompt an empirical study. Well, maybe not. But it was my dream, and Jason Iuliano and Ya Sheng Lin have made it a reality.
UCLA Law recently created some exciting opportunities, and I already know from conversations that at least some blog readers will want to know about them.
First, there are now two new programs offering full tuition scholarships to students. Information is here.
Second, there is an opening for a Director of the school’s new Criminal Justice Program, as described here.
If you’ve read this far, please feel free to reach out with questions!
Yesterday I wrote a SCOTUSBlog post on narrowing from below and Supreme Court signals — two ideas from a recent article of mine. The post updates the article in a couple ways, particularly by discussing signals’ surprisingly important role in the contraception coverage case Zubik v. Burwell.
Today the Court decided Williams v. Pennsylvania, which I’ve been covering over at SCOTUSBlog. The decision’s bottom-line rule is fairly intuitive, and the case directly affects only a relatively extreme set of recusal scenarios. But the logic of the decision may sweep more broadly–or so I suggest in my post.
One of the most interesting aspects of the ongoing litigation over the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate concerns “signals.” As I’ve defined that term, signals occur when the Justices act in their official, adjudicatory capacities without establishing conventional precedent, but while nonetheless indicating some aspect of how lower courts should decide cases. In general, signals should guide lower courts when conventional precedent is ambiguous (see this post and this article). In her Zubik concurrence yesterday, Justice Sotomayor addressed signals’ increasingly salient role. But there is both more and less to Sotomayor’s opinion than meets the eye.
In recent years, the Supreme Court has shown increased interest in the connection between the law of property and the Fourth Amendment. In a terrific new article, Will Baude and James Stern have explored that connection to defend “the positive law model of the Fourth Amendment.”
Will and James’s article is very illuminating, but I disagree with their use of the positive law to set a ceiling on what the Fourth Amendment can do. I explain my disagreements in a response piece that proposes an alternative approach, which I call “the positive law floor.”
Josh Blackman has written a post on “The Fatal Conceit of Chief Justice Roberts’s ‘Long Game.’” In short, Josh argues that “all of the slow incrementalism that has characterized the Roberts Court presupposes a stasis that is impossible.” As Josh observes, Justice Scalia’s recent death resulted in a 4-4 split in Friedrichs and may soon have similar effects in Fisher II and other cases, thereby illustrating that the Chief’s “plans may never go to fruition” and so have gone “awry.” This reasoning assumes that the Chief’s ultimate inability to issue desired decisions is a defeat or failure.
But recent events don’t necessarily cast doubt on the Court’s approach in the years leading up to Friedrichs and Fisher II. While it’s possible that the recent pattern of postponing major decisions was simply a strategy for achieving desired outcomes with minimal criticism, it’s also possible that the justices have aspired to certain norms of judicial responsibility. As a result, the Chief and other justices may have no regrets about delaying big decisions, even if it turns out that the big decisions never come to pass.