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December 8, 2009

Interesting day on tap for SCOTUS

SCOTUSblog effectively reports here on today's big doings at One First Street:

One or more opinions are expected to be announced at 10 a.m.

Today is also “honest services fraud” day.  The Court will hear oral argument in two cases challenging that statute:

10 a.m. - Black v. United States (08-876), involving the application of the statute to private conduct.  Lyle Denniston previews the case here.

11 a.m. – Weyhrauch v. United States (08-1196), involving the proof needed in a state official’s trial for violating the statute. 

A number of folks are sensibly predicting that an opinion in the big campaign finance is likely to come from the Justices this morning.  Though there will surely be lots of (overwought) punditry concerning whatever the Supreme Court does on the campaign finance front, sentencing fans may want to think about whether whatever SCOTUS rules could impact how much crime-and-punishment election rhetoric we see in 2010 and beyond.

UPDATE:  As detailed here at SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court handed down four opinions this morning, but the two criminal justice cases in the mix are not big deals unless one is a hard-core follower of mootness doctrine or intricate habeas review rules.

December 8, 2009 at 09:29 AM | Permalink


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Wow, Beard v. Kindler came down unanimous for the state. (Minus Alito who didn't participate though I can't imagine him dissenting from this) Looking back at my previous Beard comments I would have never guessed this outcome.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Dec 8, 2009 11:18:26 AM

Well, after reading Beard I see why it was unanimous. They granted a nearly useless question and stuck to it. I'm somewhat surprised they didn't dismiss as improvidently granted. Even though the state is the technical winner I don't see them coming away with anything they didn't already have. The 3rd circuit could likely reissue the same opinion and not run afoul of this ruling.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Dec 8, 2009 12:14:49 PM

SH, I hate to disagree with you, but I think you miss the boat. First of all, the 3d Circuit did use that "discretion equals not regularly followed" standard, which is not unheard of, either expressly or sub silentio in many courts of appeals. Second of all, I think it's going to be difficult for the 3d Circuit to determine that Pa's invocation of the fugitive-disentitlement doctrine wasn't acceptable here. This case will have a fair bit of impact. And I don't see the Third Circuit falling on its sword on these facts.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 8, 2009 4:24:54 PM

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