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June 8, 2006

More examination of SCOTUS times

As the Supreme Court Terms winds down, the legal media continues to examine the honeymoon of the Roberts Court and the possible coming disruption of the apparent bliss.  The latest entry in this genre is this article from Marcia Coyle at the National Law Journal, entitled "June May Be Test for Roberts Court: Some say justices' unanimity has been reached through narrow opinions, but will trend hold up under wave of heavyweight cases?"  Here is my two cents as set forth in this article:

As he looks at the large number of important criminal cases still pending, sentencing scholar Douglas Berman of Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law wonders to what extent they linger because the Court is debating whether its recent approach in civil cases of achieving unanimity through a narrowing of the scope of the decision is appropriate in the criminal context....

A very narrow decision in Hill v. McDonough, No. 05-8794, a case involving whether a challenge to a lethal-injection method can be brought as a civil rights instead of a habeas claim "won't help sort things out much" in an area that has seen a proliferation of lethal-injection Court challenges, said Berman.  And two pending death cases -- House and Kansas v. Marsh, No. 04-1170-also could be resolved narrowly but without much guidance to others, he said.  Perhaps these cases have been left to the term's end because the justices are struggling with the desire for consensus and the realization that because so many people are waiting for guidance on these issues, there is an obligation to speak "more broadly and that could lead to a more fractious outcome," said Berman.

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June 8, 2006 at 02:49 AM | Permalink

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