SCOTUS News: Week of October 30th, 2016

Much has happened with the Supreme Court in the past week or so. Here’s our weekly rundown.

– Certiorari was granted for Gloucester County School Board v. G. G.. This case concerns a transgendered teenager in Virginia who was barred by the school board from using the men’s restroom, even though his gender identity is male. This case is more well-known than most the Court has agreed to tackle in this eight-Justice term. This may suggest another narrow ruling. The issue the Court will address has more to do with administrative law than with civil rights. The media will undoubtedly keep us all apprised of every little detail, anyway. Watch for the Court’s decision to skew heavily toward the implications for both Title IX and Title VII rights.

– Bad news for those excited about Ivy v. Morath (and/or service animals). SCOTUS has rendered the case moot. It cited a similar case, United States v. Munsingwear, for this dismissal. The workload just got a little lighter for my brother from another mother, {Marshall}+.

– SCOTUS granted, vacated, and remanded a package of cases comprising Purcell v. Arizona, Tatum v. Arizona, DeShaw v. Arizona, Najar v. Arizona, and Arias v. Arizona to the Court of Appeals of Arizona. The vacated judgment and remand come with the caveat that the Court of Appeals consider the cases in light of last year’s Montgomery v. Alabama decision. These cases all concern the sentencing of children under the age of 18 to life without parole. The Justices specifically cited the Eighth Amendment in their order. Justices Alito and Thomas dissented, due to the redundancy of sending these cases back to lower courts after having already been considered in light of the relevant case law. Alito’s dissent takes issue with cases that are remanded to lower courts despite those courts presumably considering proper jurisprudence before handing out sentences. In addition, the dissent highlights the fact that Arizona courts had already drawn a distinction between mandatory life sentences by statute, and life sentences handed down on a case-by-case basis, as these sentences were.

For a summary of this friction, I’ll let Justice Alito explain it himself: in light of previous jurisprudence regarding life sentences for juveniles, “It is not clear why this Court is insisting on a do-over, or why it expects the results to be any different the second time around.”

The Court also stayed an execution for Thomas Arthur, Alabama’s second-oldest death row inmate. Justice Thomas presented the request to stay the execution at the request of officials in Alabama, and Chief Justice Roberts supported the stay, though he made it clear that SCOTUS would most likely not hear Arthur’s case.

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