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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


SCOTUS accepted more cases to show the proper lines for blood and breath tests for drunk driving. The link also points to other cases granted. There might be opinion or opinions handed down next week before the justices mostly go on vacation until January. 

Also, a big oral argument week. Overall, the reapportionment cases were a bit confusing (the second half of the reply side racing through his argument at points didn't help much -- give the guy another five minutes!) though the "one person, one voter" argument seems too cute by half.  Suddenly the basic idea that representatives represent "people" is controversial or something by selectively quoting the cases.  Some outlier cases can be imagined (some district dominated by prisoners -- how about just giving them the right to vote? -- was cited) but to require the rule asked for across the board? No.

The attempt to deny Native Americans of a civil litigation option over non-tribal members who voluntarily signed contracts to have businesses on their land seemed to rest on either racism or arguments with artificial lines. There was, e.g., a concern that tribal jurors couldn't manage to be fair as compared to let's say Mississippi trying a New York based business. Or, due process concerns, but some power to civilly litigate was left open.  So, the argument seemed to me to prove too much.  I found the argument one of the worst I have heard to be blunt about things here.  But, this doesn't mean they don't have five votes for it.

Update: Monday brought a new wrinkle to the wider subject and a brief cited this interesting brief article by Justice O'Connor from the 1990s on tribal courts.  The oral argument here cited an O'Connor article too though not sure if this was the one.  

And, we have Fisher back again, and Kennedy might want to continue the fun into the future by sending it back for more argument.  Helped by taking a case where only eight justices heard it, the result might be a bit of a mess. The case is discussed here and I added various comments about the logic of affirmative action in the comments.  More time was added to the argument so the justices could repeat themselves about their usual concerns, including Scalia suggesting blacks go to inferior schools. Should Bush and Kennedy family members too

They didn't take a 2A case, but the new year promises to be interesting (among other things) as well.


Word of the Week: "heartland" -- used in two arguments. 

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