June 25, 2008

Supreme Court opinions today.

The best — and most exciting presentation, beginning at 10 ET — is the SCOTUSblog live-blog.

UPDATE: The Court limits the punitive damages in the Exxon case to $507.5 million. (The court below had awarded $2.5 billion). In Kennedy v. Louisiana, the Court rejects the death penalty for child rape (where "the defendants' acts were not intended to cause death").

AND: Here's the Kennedy opinion (PDF). (It's doubly "the Kennedy opinion" in that it's the name of the case and of the Justice writing it.) It's a 5-4 decision with a Roberts an Alito dissent, joined (predictably) by Scalia, Thomas, and Alito Roberts.

AND: Move the discussion of Kennedy to this new post.


vbspurs said...

1- OMG! Althouse rocks a new profile pic (and she looks HOT).

2- Instapundit got me excited yesterday, with a link predicting that Justice Scalia might write the majority opinion on DC v. Heller today. WOO!

a. I can't wait to see what Simon has to say about this.

3- I sincerely hope Althouse blogs about Sworn Virgins, Albania's dying breed of woman-man, and not in a she-male, Gertie-Alice B. kind of way, either.

(I'm about to write a blogpost on it myself, but short of asking Judith Butler, I'll take Althouse every time)


vet66 said...

I am extemely interested in the ruling on the second ammendment regarding the DC gun ban.

May we assume there are no fundamentalist Mormons in Albania?

Simon said...

Ann - Justice Alito wrote the Kennedy dissent, not the Chief.

Simon said...

First reaction: In Atkins, the court told us that in looking for evidence of national consensus, "[i]t is not so much the number of these States that is significant, but the consistency of the direction of change." That is the first man overboard today; as the court admits, since Louisiana introduced this statute, five states have followed its lead, slip op. at 12, and three more are actively considering doing so, slip op. at 20; Brief for Respondents 38. The number of jurisdictions that have gone the other way is zero; the most the court can do is a febrile exhortation that the remaining 44 states have not made changes either way. So much for the significance of the consistency of the direction of change.

Simon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
veni vidi vici said...

Say, is "Alito Roberts" a new nickname for the CJ?

John Foster said...

In the Exxon case the jury awarded $5B in punitives. The 9th Circuit knocked it down to $2.5B. The Supreme Court took it down to $.5B, the amount of the compensatories.

The interesting issue, getting punitives in an admiralty action, was not answered. The Court split 4-4 on the question (Alito recused himself), so the ruling of the 9th Circuit in this regard was upheld.

John Foster said...

Also, an interesting contrast between the Exxon and Kennedy decisions: In Exxon, dealing with an area (admiralty) in which judge-made "federal common law" is OK, Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer say that they should defer to Congress in establishing the proper level of punitives. But in Kennedy, involving a legislative determination of the appropriate punishment for a local crime, Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer have no problem in overruling that determination.

blake said...

OK, I am not a lawyer--not even a simple caveman lawyer, who is frightened and confused by all these modern ways--but what I don't get is the basis on which the Court decides to make its ruling according some sort of popular trend.

Isn't that what Congress is for? If We, The People, were against the death penalty, wouldn't we elect legislators who were also against the death penalty? Is the Court perceiving and predicting some future trend, where we're all enlightened enough to share their opinions?

I say this as someone who is (at least theoretically) against the death penalty, and has definitely not found a lot of common ground with others.

Chris said...

The 4-4 issue wasn't on whether punitives are ever allowed in admiralty--The Amiable Nancy said that they were in 1818. The issue was the extent of corporate vicarious liability for them. I'm mildly bummed that they didn't resolve the issue, myself (see here and here), as well as by Souter's preference for a "ladder" metaphor, rather than "food chain."