Today is the day legal junkies have been waiting for all summer – the U.S. Supreme Court opens for business, hearing its first oral arguments of the term. Before arguments get started, the Court is set to release orders on certiorari petitions and other matters. Among the items the Court could make a ruling on is whether to take up the appeal of Georgia death row inmate Troy Anthony Davis.
It will also be an unusually long day, as far is Supreme Court openers go. Unlike past years when justices started out the term hearing two cases per day, in an effort to avoid the end-of-term church of case decisions, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. has scheduled three arguments for each oral argument day: two in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Oral arguments begin today with Altria Group, Inc. v. Good, which asks whether federal law preempts “light” cigarette smokers’ label-related deceptive marketing claims against tobacco companies that were brought under state law. Then the Court hears In Locke v. Karass, considering whether a state employees’ union can include the costs of outside litigation in non-members’ agency fees. Then in Vaden v. Discover Bank the Court will hear arguments on whether state-court usury claims are preempted by federal law requiring a cardholder arbitrate the claim.
DC Dicta will be at the Court today covering oral arguments, and will bring you updates about the day’s news this afternoon.
Meanwhile, in other news:
Supreme Sunday: At the annual Red Mass – the service attended by a number of justices of the Supreme Court – Cardinal John Patrick Foley told an audience of government officials, ambassadors, academics and members of the capital’s legal community why he chose seminary over law school. (AP)
Is the election overshadowing the Supreme Court? The Supreme Court does not have any high-profile cases on its docket so far – nothing involving abortion rights, gun control, the constitutionality of the death penalty, affirmative action or other attention-getting subjects. Its sexiest case – whether fleeting expletives uttered by the likes of Bono and other stars can be the basis of FCC punishment – will be heard on Election Day, when attention will be directed elsewhere. (AP)
Still a big issue: The likelihood that the next vacancy on the Court will be that of a liberal justice means a McCain win could tilt Supreme Court’s balance. (Washington Post).
Habeas at a snail’s pace: Months after a Supreme Court ruling, none of the habeas corpus cases of Guantánamo detainees have been resolved. (New York Times)
Insuring the insurers: Banks aren’t the only institutions causing panic due to their instability. Personal injury lawyers are scrambling to reassure jittery clients and each other that insurance-based settlements are not jeopardized by the near collapse of insurance giant American International Group. (Lawyers USA).