And of course, the end of Term opinions by the Court. But the 8 member Court is making it tough. Slate says the Court is bored out of its mind:
So on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise when Captain Kirk has been forced to downgrade life support to minimum. Lights seem to flicker gently. Dazed reporters drift down the halls like tumbleweeds. On Tuesday, Justice Samuel Alito didn’t even show up for opinion announcements. And when the sole opinion of the day was read from the bench, in a rollicking appeal about when an agency action is reviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act, in United States Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co. Inc., Chief Justice John Roberts read the unanimous opinion of the court with the affable charm of a man who has far too much time on his hands. With his trademark rhetorical flair the chief justice expounded joyously on the many charms of peat. (Whiskey! Fertilizer! “Structural support and moisture for smooth, stable greens that leave golfers with no one to blame but themselves for errant putts.”) The court granted a single case, and issued warring opinions from weary jurists intent upon relitigating their longstanding death-penalty and jury-instruction disputes. Justice Clarence Thomas (joined by Justice Samuel Alito) wrote dutifully about the murder details in a jury instruction appeal, as he is more and more wont to do. (Hooker! Hunting knife! Bloodstained shoes! Depravity!) Justice Stephen Breyer (joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) dissented in a death penalty appeal to remind us of the geographic disparities in capital sentences.***
All of which brings us back to the great marble dustbowl that stands opposite the Capitol, and all the ways in which the justices who ostensibly work there have the look of resigned underemployment about them; a look that perhaps perfectly mirrors this moment in American history. Watching the justices assemble, dress, climb to their seats on the bench, and listen to the chief read out a unanimous opinion in a case about peat, it was clear that at least some of them might appreciate some interesting work until a ninth member is seated—work that might transcend halfhearted ideological infighting. I’m thinking they can maybe rent a bus and start a band. Or mow lawns or maybe babysit. But as the high court sputters along on its new screensaver mode, the fact that government can do next to nothing—even as there is more than ever to do—could not be more depressingly in evidence.All that said, SCOTUSBlog reports on a judge telling the Court to take up a transgender case:
Arguing that “time is of the essence,” a federal appeals court judge on Tuesday called for a prompt appeal to the Supreme Court to sort out the rights of transgender students when they use restrooms at school. Circuit Judge Paul V. Niemeyer helped clear the way for an early appeal by withholding a demand that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vote on rehearing a test case on the issue. At issue in the case of G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board is the meaning of a 1972 federal civil rights law that outlaws discrimination “because of sex” in federally funded education. Specially at issue is whether that law — known as “Title IX” — provides protection to students who identify as having a gender other than what was assigned to them at birth. There is a widespread, and rapidly growing controversy over that and other transgender rights issues, and the case of sixteen-year-old “G.G.” could be the first to put the issue before the Supreme Court. In some ways, the rapid development of the controversy parallels that over same-sex marriage rights, leading to the Supreme Court decision recognizing equal rights of gays and lesbians to marry, across the nation.And Rumpole is cracking me up with his posts about a lawyer who is stealing our blog posts. Great stuff by Rumpole here.