UPDATE -- Clarence Thomas asked the first question today in open court... so it wasn't just that he was going to ask questions telephonically.
SECOND UPDATE -- Oral arguments are live-streamed this Term!
It's the First Monday in October, which means the Supreme Court Justices are coming back from their summer vacations. (In addition to term limits as SCOTUS reform, I think it's time to do away with their three month break in the summer.) So what's on tap for this Term? Here's a good summary of the biggest cases, which address abortion and guns, from Vox:
In other SCOTUS news:
1. Justice Alito is fired up over the shadow docket criticism. From the NY Times:
In a combative speech on Thursday, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. defended several of the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on what critics call its “shadow docket,” saying the news media had created the impression that “a dangerous cabal is deciding important issues in a novel, secretive, improper way in the middle of the night, hidden from public view.”
He addressed the recent decisions in unusual detail, rejecting, for instance, what he said was the “false and inflammatory claim that we nullified Roe v. Wade” in early September by allowing a Texas law that bans most abortions after six weeks to come into effect.
“We did no such thing, and we said so expressly in our order,” he said, quoting from it. Indeed, the majority in the 5-to-4 ruling said it based its decision on procedural grounds and did not address the constitutionality of the Texas law.
The effect of the ruling, however, has been to deny abortions to most women in Texas. In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the majority’s unsigned order “illustrates just how far the court’s ‘shadow docket’ decisions may depart from the usual principles of appellate process.”
“Without full briefing or argument, and after less than 72 hours’ thought,” she wrote, “this court greenlights the operation of Texas’ patently unconstitutional law banning most abortions.”
Justice Alito’s speech, at the University of Notre Dame, was largely devoted to addressing the “shadow docket,” which he called a loaded and misleading phrase.
“The catchy and sinister term ‘shadow docket’ has been used to portray the court as having been captured by a dangerous cabal that resorts to sneaky and improper methods to get its ways,” he said. “This portrayal feeds unprecedented efforts to intimidate the court and to damage it as an independent institution.”
3. So he couldn't go to Justice Barrett's investiture.