U.S. Supreme Court

Legal Analyst Previews the Supreme Court Previews


It’s the first Monday in October, which means it’s a big day for Supreme Court previews.

In a story published on Friday, the Atlantic ranks the top 10 previews, including ones by USA Today (“a good place to start if you want a general overview without committing too much time to the endeavor”), the Constitutional Accountability Center (PDF) (a “smart preview” that begins with a family leave case against the state of Maryland) and AARP (PDF) (all the justices are old enough to be members).

Since then, the National Law Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times have published their own previews. Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California-Irvine School of Law, has a preview for ABAJournal.com.

The Post says the “dominant theme” is the extent of the federal government’s power. The stories note pending cert petitions on Obama’s health-care law, on Arizona’s law requiring police to check the immigration status of people they stop, and on affirmative action at the University of Texas.

The New York Times says cases concerning criminal justice, free speech and religious freedom are “at the heart of the court’s docket.” The newspaper notes a comment to reporters by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that the court is considering fewer civil cases because so many are going to arbitration.

On the criminal side, the Times says, “The court will decide whether the police need a warrant to use advanced technology to track suspects, whether jails may strip-search people arrested for even the most minor offenses, whether defendants have a right to competent lawyers to help them decide whether to plead guilty, when eyewitness evidence may be used at trial, and what should happen when prosecutors withhold evidence.”

The court will also decide whether the government may ban TV nudity and swearing, and whether religious institutions may discriminate under a “ministerial exception” to employment laws.

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