|10th Year of the Roberts Court|
By: Timothy P. Flynn
Although they met for their first conference last Monday, the nine U.S. Supreme Court Justices convene today for the first oral argument of this term. It could prove to be a very important term.
Last week, the Justices selected 11 more cases for briefing and argument during this term to add to their already crowded docket. Notably absent so far on the docket is an order granting certiorari
in any of the many pending same-sex marriage cases.
These days, it seems every other big-city lawyer has his or her mits on a pet same-sex marriage case they want SCOTUS to consider as the High Court draws ever closer to selecting the perfect such case. These lawyers, it seems, are confident of a "same-sex" victory and thus, they anticipate the raw professional glory that comes from being on the winning side of a landmark case.
SCOTUS has many from which to choose, as cases are now pending from Oklahoma, Virginia, Utah, Wisconsin, and California, with plenty more in the federal pipeline. Legal scholars believe the High Court will take up either the California or the Utah case.
The case from California features two heavy-hitting lawyers: Ted Olson and David Boies of Bush
fame; they have joined forces for this epic civil rights struggle. The Law Blogger
has covered their case since its inception in 2009. Also unique to the California case is that it is a class action law suit.
Utah was the first state to have their state law ban on same-sex marriage struck down by a federal court. Now three other federal courts have similarly ruled. One of the attractive features of the Utah case, in addition to being the first considered at the federal level, is that it is simple; involving a single gay couple.
Keep in mind folks, it is also possible that the SCOTUS will take a pass on the same-sex case menu this year due to a lack of conflict among the federal circuits. It is in the High Court's nature to move slowly, deliberately waiting for exactly the right case, at exactly the right time. We here at the Law Blogger
sure do think that the time is now.
Meanwhile, the SCOTUS has other matters to decide. Today, the Court hears whether the 4th Amendment protects a driver who had the tell-tale "broken tail light" which precipitated a cop stop and a search which yielded cocaine.
Tomorrow, the Court considers whether a lifer in an Arkansas prison has the right to grow a beard in accord with his new found Muslim faith; beards contravene the prison rules. The inmate looks to a piece of relatively recent federal legislation that mandates prisons to allow inmates to freely practice their chosen religion.