Zubik and the Free Exercise Context

(image via The Atlantic) One of the most anticipated decisions of the current Supreme Court Term is forthcoming in the case Zubik v. Burwell.  Zubik follows in the footsteps of another recent case: Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, 134 S.Ct. 2751 (2014).  Both cases deal with First Amendment challenges under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to…

A Shift in Oral Arguments: An Update

I recently wrote a post where I looked at Justice Scalia’s final ten oral arguments and compared them to the first ten oral arguments after his death.  There have been several oral arguments since then and with the data from those arguments I am able to expand the timeframe of that analysis.  In this post I examine…

The First Nineteen

(image via Boston Globe) So far, this has been an odd and unique Supreme Court Term in several respects.  For instance, Justices Thomas, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor all dissented in the same case (in DirecTV v. Imbrugia – Justice Thomas’ dissent was very different from Justice Ginsburg’s which Justice Sotomayor joined).  We’ve had a Justice pass…

Justice Sotomayor Shaking Up Post-Scalia Oral Arguments

f (image via Los Angeles Times) It has been over a month since Justice Scalia, one of the most engaged Justices in oral arguments since he was confirmed to the Court in 1986, passed away on February 13, 2016.  For all of the commentary surrounding his passing and on the questions surrounding the process of…

Atypical Oral Arguments In Puerto Rico v. Franklin CA Trust

On Tuesday the Court heard arguments in Puerto Rico v. Franklin Cal. Tax-Free Trust a case that examines whether Congress precluded Puerto Rico from the ability to restructure its public utility debt. Specifically the case looks at whether Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code applies to Puerto Rico.  Much of the case and the arguments…

Analysis of the Zubik Arguments

What was said over the course of the 90 minute the oral arguments today in Zubik? Quite a bit. Commentators seem to think the Justices may split their votes four to four (e.g. Adam Liptak from the New York Times) with the Justices predominately to the right: Kennedy, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts voting that the…

Oral Arguments in Nichols v. United States

Federal laws for registered sex offenders are designed to be clear – under the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) if you are on this list and you move residences you need to update your residency.  And yet, what happens if you leave the United States? SORNA does not specify.  This is the issue…

Top Briefs in Friedrichs v. CA Teachers Assn.

(image from Dover Teachers’ Union) With 48 amicus curiae briefs filed at the merits phase and a total of 57 amicus briefs filed throughout the case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (No. 14-915) has drawn much interest both from the public and from the policy community. It also provides the fodder I was looking for…

Comparing Opinions in Montgomery v. Louisiana

In the second in a series of posts where I analyze recent opinions, I compare the majority and dissenting opinions in Montgomery v. Louisiana (No. 14-280).  The Court dealt with two questions in the case: Does the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama, which held that the Eighth Amendment prohibits mandatory sentencing schemes…

Opinion Stats: Americold Realty Trust v. ConAgra Foods, Inc.

In this new series I look at Supreme Court opinions to provide a sense of the opinion’s writing quality and content.  Although there is no consensus measure for writing quality, I have used StyleWriter 4 in past papers (e.g. Counting on Quality) and it does a good job of tailoring linguistic analyses to legal content…