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Supreme Court arguments this week


The Supreme Court hears another 6 cases this week.  The quick rundown follows, with the usual link to our complete analysis of each case.

Monday, March 2

Tuesday, March 3

Wednesday, March 4

Don’t forget — you can get your very own free subscription to the LII Supreme Court Bulletin will get you a summary of all Supreme Court cases delivered directly to your inbox 2 weeks before the scheduled argument.

6 Supreme Court oral arguments this week

supct.jpegThe Supreme Court hears 6 cases this week.  A quick rundown follows, with a link to our complete analysis of each case.

By the way, your very own (free!) subscription to the LII Supreme Court Bulletin will get you a summary of all Supreme Court cases delivered directly to your inbox 2 weeks before the scheduled argument.

Monday, February 23:

Tuesday, February 24:

Wednesday, February 25:

Free, Worldwide Access to Legal Information

pbdetail.jpgThe LII’s Director Tom Bruce attended the Hague Conference on Private International Law to participate in an October 20th discussion about how to provide judges with clear, useful information related to transnational litigation issues.  The Hague Conference is a global inter-governmental organization with 68 member states. Its mission is to build bridges between legal systems — for example, civil law and common law or religious law and secular law. The agenda of the October meeting was to work toward a multinational convention, which, if approved, will become a binding instrument for countries that ratify it.

Tom’s participation is a result of his years of experience — besides directing one of the world’s foremost providers of free legal information, he (with Peter Martin) developed the world’s first web site that provided free access to legal information, and he has written extensively about information policy.  Claire Germain, Cornell’s Law Librarian also attended the meeting, along with representatives from the LII’s sister organizations CanLII and AustLII; legal librarians including the Library of Congress; commercial litigators, academics and judges specializing in transnational commercial litigation; and people who design transnational legal information systems.

The meetings concluded with a draft convention that will be further developed by The Hague Conference. The convention calls for free access to law worldwide, encouraging national governments to provide authoritative versions of their digital law documents, legislation, court decisions, and regulations. Principles of the convention also included providing translation of the materials, adopting internationally consistent and medium-neutral citation methods, and encouraging other parties to reproduce their legal materials for free public access.

Cornell study about free online academic articles

openaccess.jpegThe findings of a new Cornell study challenge the widely held belief that open access academic articles — those published free online — get cited more often in academic literature. The study concluded that open access publishing reaches more readers than subscription publishing, but found no evidence of a citation advantage the first year after publication. The findings are particularly relevant to academic researchers, because the frequency with which a researcher’s work is cited can be a factor in tenure and promotion decisions.

Per curiam: definition of the day

percuriam.jpg A “per curiam” decision is issued in the name of the Court rather than specific justices. Most decisions on the merits by the Supreme Court (and other appellate courts in the US) take the form of one or more opinions signed by individual justices (and joined in by others). Even when such signed opinions are unanimous, they are not termed “per curiam.” “Per curiam” decisions are given that label by the Court itself and tend to be short. Usually, though not always, they deal with issues the Court views as relatively non-controversial.

For examples, see, e.g., Wood v. Bartholomew, 516 U.S. 1 (1995) and Kimberlin v. Quinlin, 515 U.S. 321(1995). However, they are not necessarily unanimous. Indeed, some per curiam decisions are accompanied by dissenting opinions. See, e.g., Bush v. Gore, 531 US 98 (2000).

The top appellate courts of most states (including, e.g., Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina) use the same terminology.

Making the Law Work for Everyone

undprpt.jpgThe United Nations Development Programme‘s Commission on the Legal Empowerment of the Poor recently released the first volume of its final report Making the Law Work for Everyone. The Commission notes that four billion people – the majority of the global population – are excluded from the protection and opportunities provided by the rule of law; and that this exclusion from the rule of law has serious consequences, both for those who are excluded and for society as a whole. The report discusses the Commission’s agenda for legal empowerment for the poor and challenges states to expand their reach to benefit the poor. The Commission is co-chaired by former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright and Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto. It is the first global initiative to focus specifically on the link between legal exclusion, poverty and law.

Today in Supreme Court history

sanford.jpegToday is the birthday of Edward T. Sanford (1865), who was appointed to the US Supreme Court by President Warren G. Harding after strenuous lobbying efforts by Chief Justice William Howard Taft. The two Justices were sympatico, as Sanford joined with the Chief Justice regularly while they were on the Court and also participated in Taft’s “inner club” of conservative justices who met at Taft’s home on Sunday afternoons. Sanford was still on the Court when he died unexpectedly on the same day as the death of his mentor. His most noted opinion was in the so-called Pocket Veto case, in which he ended a 140-year-old dispute by ruling that the president has 10 calendar, rather than legislative, days to act on a bill before the adjournment of Congress.

kennedya1.jpegJuly 23 is also the birthday of current Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy (1936). Justice Kennedy has been an Associate Justice since 1988, when he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. He has acted as the Court’s swing vote in many cases, and he has, consequently, held special prominence in many politically charged 5–4 decisions.