SCOTUS Update (Tuesday)

The Supreme Court released three more opinions today, including Shelby County v. Holder (No. 12-96), the challenge to the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Writing for the majority in a 5-4 ruling, Chief Justice Roberts concluded that Section 4 of VRA is unconstitutional in light of current conditions; its formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting covered jurisdictions to federal preclearance of changes in voting laws. Justice Thomas concurred; he would have struck down Section 5 of the VRA as well. Dissenting, Justice Ginsburg wrote that the court has usurped Congress’ role in determining how to enforce the post-Civil War Amendments to the Constitution.

The other cases that were announced today, in the order they were released:

  • Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District (No. 11-1447) (Takings case decided by 5-4 vote; Alito’s majority opinion held that the government’s demand for property from a land-use permit applicant must satisfy requirements of the Nollan & Dolan cases, even when it denies the permit, and even when its demand is for money; Kagan writing for the dissent)
  • Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl (No. 12-399) (Unusual 5-4 split in case applying the Indian Child Welfare Act; Alito writing for the majority, including Breyer, concluded that ICWA did not bar termination of parental rights of biological father who had earlier relinquished parental rights; Scalia and Sotomayor wrote dissenting opinions)

Well over 100,000 readers were following the live-blogging on SCOTUSBlog at the peak of activity this morning.

The cases remaining to be released are: Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Proposition 8 case; United States v. Windsor, the Defense of Marriage Act case; and Sekhar v. U.S., the case involving whether a lawyer’s advice is property for purposes of the Hobbs Act. These cases are expected to be released tomorrow morning, beginning at 10 a.m.