Friday, April 10, 2020
Each week, the Appellate Advocacy Blog Weekly Roundup presents a few tidbits of news and Twitter posts from the past week concerning appellate advocacy. As always, if you see something during the week that you think we should be sure to include, feel free to send a quick note to either (1) Dan Real at DReal@Creighton.edu or on Twitter @Daniel_L_Real or (2) Catharine Du Bois at DuBoisLegalWriting@gmail.com or on Twitter @CLDLegalWriting.
US Supreme Court Opinions and News
- The Supreme Court blocked an extended deadline for absentee voting in the Wisconsin primary this week. In the wake of COVID-19 shutdowns across the country, Governor Tony Evers had attempted to stop in-person voting. The District Court overturned the ban but allowed absentee ballots mailed and postmarked after election day, April 7, to be counted if received by April 13. The Supreme Court overturned the District Court’s deadline extension, saying that “[e]xtending the date by which ballots may be cast by voters . . . for an additional six days after the scheduled election day fundamentally alters the nature of the election.” See the opinion and reports in The New York Times and NBC News.
- The Supreme Court ruled against oil refiner, CITGO, requiring that it pay for much of the cleanup following the 2004 oil spill in the Delaware River. See the opinion and reports from The Hill, Bloomberg, and Courthouse News Service.
- The Supreme Court will not hear a challenge to the DC Metro policy that bans religious ads. The Archdiocese of Washington argued that the Washington Transit Authority policy violates the First Amendment. See reports from USA Today, The Washington Times, CNN, and The Hill.
- The Supreme Court has cancelled April oral arguments due to COVID-19. A News Release stated that the Court will “consider rescheduling some cases from the March and April sessions before the end of the Term, if circumstances permit.” See comment from The Washington Post, The Hill, CNN, and Reuters.
Federal Appellate Court Opinions and News
- The Fifth Circuit has allowed Texas to enforce its abortion ban during the COVID-19 pandemic. The court overturned a Texas district court, which had blocked the ban because it prevented a “Texas women from exercising what the Supreme Court has declared is [a] fundamental constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before a fetus is viable.” See the decision and reports from The Hill, Reuters, and The Associated Press.
- The D.C. Circuit has overturned the lower court’s block of four death penalty sentences, allowing the Justice Department’s plan to resume executions of federal death row inmates after a 16-year hiatus. The Federal Court had stayed the executions and had issued a preliminary injunction based on concerns about the government’s lethal injection method. See decision and reports from Courthouse News, The Associated Press, and The Wall Street Journal.
- The First Circuit rules that “so help me god” in the naturalization oath for U.S. citizenship is constitutional. The ruling rejected an atheist claim that it violated her First Amendment rights. See report from Bloomberg Law (subscription required).
Covid-19 and the Courts
The Judicial Conference has temporarily approved the use of video and teleconferencing for some criminal proceedings in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. See the News Release.