Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Today’s Supreme Court Rulings


The Supreme Court has just issued rulings in three much-watched “honest services” cases, Skilling v. United States, United States v. Black, and Weyhrauch v. United States.  It appears that all three cases involve unanimous, or largely unanimous, rulings limiting the scope of the criminal statute (to the benefit of the defendants).

In Doe v. Reed, the Court ruled 8-1 (with Thomas in dissent) against a broad First Amendment challenge to a state requirement that information on petitions for ballot referenda be made public.  Apparently, a narrower First Amendment claim may be pursued on remand.

Rulings in three cases of lesser interest, including an odd 5-4 divide in a habeas case:  Thomas, joined by Scalia and largely by Stevens, Breyer, and Sotomayor, versus Kennedy, joined by the Chief, Ginsburg, and Alito, with the latter group taking the more restrictive reading of AEDPA.  See SCOTUSblog for more.

The four remaining opinions will be issued on Monday:  Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (which now seems likely to have been written by Stevens or Ginsburg; that’s not encouraging news for petitioners); McDonald v. City of Chicago (Second Amendment incorporation; likely Alito opinion); Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB (constitutional challenge to Public Company Accounting Oversight Board); and Bilski v. Kappos (patent issue; probable Stevens opinion)


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