Good morning, everyone! Welcome to our live blog, sponsored by Bloomberg Law. We're starting a little early this morning because, well, we just couldn't wait.
We are only expecting opinions in argued cases today; the Justices are holding a conference today to consider petitions, but we don't expect to get orders from that conference until Monday morning.
And as is almost always the case (except on the last day of the term), we don't know what opinions we will get today.
Good morning from the press room. For those asking, nothing new on credentialing.
There are a lot of questions about whether we will get decisions in particular cases today. Again, we don't know what we are going to get. Of course, it seems like the January cases -- recess appointments, abortion clinic buffer zones, public employee unions -- are prime for being decided, but we just don't know.
I also will say that I think it is unlikely that we will get Hobby Lobby (contraception mandate) or cellphone privacy today, but that's just me.
In response to a question we got by email, almost all cases are reviewed by the Supreme Court on "certiorari" (ie, discretionary review), but Congress has written a very few statutes that give an actual right to appeal to the Supreme Court (most famously, certain cases under the Voting Rights Act). But the Justices can still duck the case (by dismissing the appeal) if they issue an order saying that there is no "substantial federal question" that warrants their attention.
Two boxes of opinions. Probably means 3 or 4.
Following up on my note last week that you can infer that the Court will reject the constitutional challenge to public employee union exactions in the Harris case, here is my thinking. From that sitting, the Chief Justice is very likely to be writing the Noel Canning recess appointments case, because it is important to the relationship between branches of government. Justice Alito and Justice Breyer should be writing either the McCullen case on abortion protests or the Harris unions case. Because the protesters are likely to win McCullen in a conservative decision, I think Alito will have that case. But if the Court writes narrowly in McCullen, Breyer could write it. That would leave Alito with Harris, which could be very, very bad for the unions. It's certainly possible. I nonetheless think that it is more likely that Breyer has Harris, perhaps for the four more liberal Justices in a plurality opinion, with Scalia writing separately to provide the fifth vote. The Chief Justice might also vote that way based on stare decisis.
Here's Lyle. We have the first opinion.
United States v. Clarke. It is by Justice Kagan.
The decision is unanimous.
The CA11 is vacated and remanded.
The Court holds that a taxpayer has a right to conduct an examination of IRS officials regarding their reasons for issuing a summons when he points to specific facts or circumstances plausibly raising an inference of bad faith.
We will have more. For those of you who are new, the Court always issues decisions in order of reverse seniority, so we could hear again from Justice Kagan or anyone else on the Court.
We have the second opinion.
Sorry -- jumped the gun. Did not mean to hit send yet. Waiting for Lyle.
We will post a link to the Clarke opinion as soon as it is available online.
Second case really is here.
The decision is by Justice Sotomayor. It is unanimous, although Thomas concurs joined by Scalia and Alito.
The CA11 is affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
The Court holds that Lane's sworn testimony outside the scope of his ordinary job duties is entitled to First Amendment protection. His testimony was speech as a citizen on a matter of public concern.
There will be more. This was a case in which Tejinder Singh and the firm of Goldstein & Russell represented the petitioner in the case.
So we won't hear from Justice Kagan again. We could hear from Sotomayor again or from anyone else.