Judicial Branch

In City of San Antonio, Texas v. Hotels.com the U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously that federal district courts may not alter a court of appeals’ allocation of appellate costs. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case arguing for district court discretion.  

The City of...

House and Senate Democrats have proposed a bill to expand the U.S. Supreme Court from nine Justices to 13.

Currently, six Justices generally vote (or in the case of Justice Barrett are predicted to vote) conservative in big, controversial cases. If four seats were added to the Supreme Court and filled with Biden nominees, the balance of power would shift left--particularly in cases involving hot button issues.

While Congress has passed legislation over the years changing the number of Justices, since 1869 the number...

In Carney v. Adams the Supreme Court held unanimously that James Adams lacked standing to challenge a Delaware constitutional provision that requires that appointments to Delaware’s major courts reflect a partisan balance.

Delaware’s Constitution states that no more than a bare majority of members of any of its five major courts may belong to any one political party. It also requires, with respect to three of those courts, that the remaining...

The confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett begin on Monday. Judge Barrett undoubtably will be asked about her views on the Affordable Care Act, guns, and abortion. Like her predecessors, she will try to say as little as possible about her views on hot button issues.

But what about her thoughts on less controversial topics the Supreme Court decides on a more regular basis, upon which states and local governments may...

For the last 50 years the Supreme Court has leaned right. But there has always been an unreliable conservative “swing” Justice at the center of the Court. First, Justice Powell, then Justice O’Connor, next Justice Kennedy, and most recently (and very briefly) Chief Justice Roberts.

If Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed the Court is likely to have five reliable conservative votes in the big, controversial cases (Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Coney Barrett). Chief Justice Roberts’ vote will no longer matter, and...

Unless something surprising happens, Judge Amy Coney Barrett is expected to take the bench before the Supreme Court hears the most recent challenge to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act on November 10. But before she is confirmed the Court will hear 10 cases in its October siting with only eight Justices on the bench.

At least four of those cases are of interest to states and local governments. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC)...

History will remember Justice Ginsburg as a glass ceiling smasher, a feminist, a liberal, a dissenter, and an icon. States and local governments will also remember something subtler about her which was more visible in the Court’s lower profile cases. And that was her pragmatism.

Perhaps the most important case for states and local governments where Justice Ginsburg demonstrated this quality is South Dakota v. Wayfair. She was the sole liberal...

Since April 2020 the Supreme Court has handled numerous emergency requests related to COVID-19. Requests involving stay-at-home orders and judge-made changes to elections laws are of most interest to states and local governments. The trends in both categories of cases is clear but the reasons are murky. Oftentimes none of the Justices announce, much less explain, their vote.

In these emergency requests the challenger isn’t asking the Supreme Court to decide the case on the merits. Instead, it is either asking the Supreme...

Beginning this week for the first time ever the Supreme Court is holding oral argument over the phone and allowing the public to listen in live. Today’s argument in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania illustrates the myriad ways live, phone argument is different from the traditional in-person version. 

Other than Justice Thomas asking questions, the Chief Justice’s role is the most...

The Supreme Court is known for its ceaselessness. Government shut downs, snowstorms, anthrax, and vacancies haven’t slowed down the High Court. But it has not been spared by this global pandemic.

This term the Supreme Court is expected to issue about 56 opinions—about...

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