All the attention is on Monday’s arguments about the Texas anti-abortion law, but also see below for some interesting First Amendment and Second Amendment cases.
The Court’s audio page seems to be the best for listening in live. (Other options and info here.)
Monday, November 1 — SB 8
I try to focus this blog on cases you might not have heard enough about elsewhere — and the Texas anti-abortion law SB 8 is not in that category! So just a couple things that I’ll point out:
• There are two cases, not consolidated for argument purposes.
–So at 10:00, we’ll hear argument in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, the case brought by doctors and clinics. The question in that case is “Whether a state can insulate from federal-court review a law that prohibits the exercise of a constitutional right by delegating to the general public the authority to enforce that prohibition through civil actions.”
–Then after that argument is concluded (probably around 11:30), we’ll hear argument in U.S. v. Texas on “Whether the United States may bring suit in federal court and obtain injunctive or declaratory relief against the state, state court judges, state court clerks, other state officials, or all private parties to prohibit Texas Senate Bill 8 from being enforced.”
• It’s in that second case that attorney Johnathan F. Mitchell has been given 10 minutes of Texas’s 30 minutes to argue on behalf of “intervenors” (Texas residents who support the law, but don’t represent the state itself). In the 5th Circuit, Mitchell’s brief argued that states are not required to follow Supreme Court holdings; that “federal and state political branches have every prerogative to adopt interpretations of the Constitution that differ from the Supreme Court’s.” Reply Brief, US v. Texas, No. 21-50949 (5th Cir. Oct. 14, 2021).
Tuesday, November 2
First up is a First Amendment case involving censure of elected officials — one that, especially in light of January 6, might be getting a lot more attention if it weren’t for yesterday’s cases taking so much focus. The plaintiff in Houston Community College System v. Wilson was an elected member of the HCC board. Harvard Law Review has a useful description of the legal issues; I’ll quote their summary of the factual summary: “After trustee David Wilson disagreed with the majority’s funding decisions, he publicly criticized his fellow trustees through automated phone calls, a website, and local radio, accusing them of failing to represent their constituencies. Adding to the tension, Wilson hired private investigators to surveil HCC and a fellow trustee at her residence. In response, the Board censured Wilson, denouncing his recent behavior as against HCC’s interests and violative of bylaws, including one about ‘respect for . . . collective decision-making.’ Wilson sued HCC under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the censure violated his right to free speech.”
The second case today is a technical civil procedure matter involving cases that challenge arbitration awards. If interested, read the 5th Circuit opinion.
Wednesday, November 3
Just one case today, a Second Amendment issue involving New York’s “proper cause requirement” for concealed-carry licenses. See an overview here. Lots of attention to this one — New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen has 87 amicus briefs! I recommend reading the Second Circuit ruling and a couple of briefs, all available here. For people interested in international law, note the brief from Amnesty International. And it’s always worth reading a brief from the NAACP LDEF.