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May 31, 2005

Cutter, Andersen, another capital grant and Booker GVRs

As well covered over at SCOTUSblog here, this morning's opinions from the Supreme Court included an unanimous reversal in Cutter v. Wilkinson, which serves to uphold congressional power "to require officials of state and local prisons and jails to find ways to allow inmates to practice their religious beliefs," and another unanimous reversal in Arthur Andersen LLP v. US, which "overturned the criminal conviction of the now nearly defunct auditing giant, Arthur Andersen LLP, because of faulty jury instructions on the destruction of audit documents related to the Enron scandal."

Though I expect Cutter v. Wilkinson (03-9877) will be the buzz of the blogsphere, I am more intrigued (or perhaps annoyed) that the Court agreed to hear Kansas v. Marsh (04-1170) which concerns the constitutionality of Kansas' death penalty law.  As explained at SCOTUSblog at the end of this post, the "main question raised by the state of Kansas' appeal is whether a death sentence is barred if the aggravating and mitigating circumstances are evenly balanced," but "the Court added two procedural questions in the case: does it have jurisdiction to review the Kansas Supreme Court decision, and whether the state court ruling was based on state law and thus immune to Supreme Court review."  In a subsequent post I will explain why I am a bit grumpy about the cert. grant in Marsh.

And, continuing its new tradition, the Supreme Court's order list included some more Booker-inspired GVRs, although I count only 7 this morning.  Also, interestingly, that order list includes a grant of a motion by petitioner in Halbert v. Michigan (an interesting criminal case discussed here) for leave to file a supplemental brief after argument.  I wonder how often this happens.

May 31, 2005 at 10:43 AM | Permalink

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