Sep 10, 2008

Supreme Court News

The Supreme Court released its December oral argument schedule on Monday. I was out of town for work, so missed out on the e-mail about it. Here it is on SCOTUSBlog. Here is the .pdf from the Supreme Court itself.

Also of note, it appears that the Court is considering rehearing Kennedy v. Louisiana. SCOTUSBlog says (in part):

The Supreme Court on Monday called for new legal briefs on possible rehearing — and, maybe, revision — of its ruling striking down the death penalty for the crime of child rape. In an order in Kennedy v. Louisiana (found here), the Court sought briefs from lawyers for both sides in the case, as well as from the federal government. The new briefing in 07-343 is to be completed by Sept. 24 — in advance of the Court’s first Conference of the new Term, on Monday, Sept. 29.

They apparently may consider relevant statutes in military law, which leave the death penalty as an option for child rape. The court is out (pun intended) to see whether they will decide to rethink their two standards in the case. The first is Justice Kennedy's proposed 'national consensus' regarding the repugnancy of the death penalty when applied to child rape cases. That claim is the shakiest; much evidence can (and has already) been filed arguing that the national consensus is in fact moving toward Louisiana's position, not away from it, as the Court seems to believe. The second standard is that of the Court's independent judgment. A majority has clearly decided that the death penalty should not apply in child rape cases. However, should a majority of the Court speak against the national consensus? It has before (see here, here, and here). Of course, of those three, only Abington is still in effect (Chisholm was overturned by the 11th Amendment and Dred Scott was overturned by the 13th and 14th Amendments).

We'll see what happens. It would be interesting for the Court to rehear a case less than six months after it was decided. Of course, the result could be the oppopsite that those opposed to Kennedy desire; if the decision is upheld by a majority, the precedent only becomes stronger. For years abortion opponents have been foiled by having cases brought before the Court, only to have the right to an abortion more entrenched (though usually in a more refined form). Once again, we'll see.

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