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SCOTUS News: Week of October 16th, 2016

We are off to a slow start this fall session. This week, the Supreme Court denied certiorari for a whole slew of cases, sticking to its guns and only taking cases to the argument stage that will likely lead to either unanimity, near-unanimity, or have the potential for a narrow ruling. This continues the decision-making trend we have seen so far from the Court, in light of the fact that the ninth seat on the Court remains vacant. The Justices are being careful, and thus considering fewer petitions than usual.

We are not without some intriguing updates this week, though. Over on FantasyScotus we have a surprising clash of perspectives between the Crowd and the {Marshall}+ algorithm regarding Apple v. Samsung. The predictive margins for some of the Justices are not very vast, but the interesting thing here is that the Algorithm and the Crowd are predicting 8-0 decisions in opposite directions. As phones continue to explode worldwide, we all eagerly await the decision and the potential ramifications it will have on the smartphone wars.

The Crowd and the Algorithm both think that Buck v. Davis will be reversed. This case has some relatively broad civil rights implications considering the Court’s very careful process of consideration this term. One thing that has stayed the same in this Supreme Court session: Justice Kennedy is the swing vote marking the most substantive difference of opinion between FantasySCOTUS and {Marshall}+. This case was argued two weeks ago. There is a decent chance we will see a final opinion released before Thanksgiving.

In another departure, the Crowd currently predicts that Manrique v. US will be reversed. The Algorithm is more confident, however, that the conservative wing of the Court (joined here by Justices Kennedy and Ginsburg) will affirm the lower court ruling on this very narrow issue regarding the chronology of court-ordered restitution during the appeals process. It should be noted, though, that the Crowd’s expected reversal is not particularly strong at the moment.

One other noteworthy release from the Court this week:

Elmore v. Holbrook was denied certiorari. This is not the end of the story, though. Justice Sotomayor wrote a dissent on the denial of certiorari. Joined by Justice Ginsburg, Justice Sotomayor criticized the swift manner in which the petitioner, Clark Elmore, was given a death sentence for murder despite copious documentation of serious mental illness from exposure to pesticides, lead, and Agent Orange as a young man. This perhaps foreshadows a day in the future when similar cases may be considered by a 9-person Court. Sotomayor rejected the notion of punishing someone with potentially serious brain damage by putting them to death, citing Hinton v. Alabama et al. This dissent also opens up further consideration of the limits of Elmore’s defense attorney, who by his own admission was inexperienced in such matters at the time of Elmore’s original sentencing.

Remember to check out FantasySCOTUS and sign up if you haven’t already. And stay up to date with tweets from LexPredict and the {MARSHALL]+ Algorithm at @LexPredict and @MarshallPlus.