The Strength of Precedent is in the Justices’ Actions, Not Words

During his Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 2005, now Chief Justice Roberts exposited, “Judges have to have the humility to recognize that they operate within a system of precedent shaped by other judges equally striving to live up to the judicial oath, and judges have to have modesty to be open in the decisional process…

Retirement Plan Blues

It is that time of year again. As we near the end of the Supreme Court term, we are experiencing another round of prognostications on whether Justice Kennedy will retire leaving another vacancy for the Trump Administration to fill (last year’s take on the possibility of Kennedy’s retirement can be found here).  About this time of…

Justices, Tenure, and What to Expect Moving Forward

A ninth Justice sits on the Supreme Court today for oral arguments for the first time in over a year.  Justice Gorsuch at 49 years of age has the potential to fill the seat previously occupied by Justice Scalia for years to come.  Gorsuch is on the younger end of the age spectrum for Supreme…

Redistricting Precedent in Light of Evenwel

The Supreme Court decided Evenwel v. Abbott this week – a case with vast implications for legislative districts.  Some see the decision as snubbing Republicans by ruling that states and localities should use total rather than voting population to draw these districts.  Other commentary views the ruling as sufficiently narrow to allow future litigation in the same…

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…

Friedrichs as a Per Curiam Decision

The Court released its decision today in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Assn.  The decision which has garnered considerable attention is a single sentence reading: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.”  From this we know the Justices split 4-4 and so there was no precedential value to the ruling, and that by doing this the Court…

Much Ado About Nothing?

Today the Supreme Court decided the seemingly innocuous case of Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore.  This case dealt with the liability of spousal guarantors under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.  On any other day this ruling might have gone unnoticed.  The decision is one line reading, “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided…