Forum on the Same Sex Marriage Cases


United States v. Windsor

On Wednesday, May 27, 2013, at 3 pm CDT, IIT Chicago-Kent is presenting a forum on the same sex marriage cases. The forum will be streaming live here and will be posted later on Chicago-Kent’s YouTube channel. The event is cosponsored by ISCOTUS, as well as by the Chicago-Kent Lambdas and the Chicago-Kent chapters of The Federalist Society and The American Constitution Society. Panelists are Professors Steven Heyman, Katharine Baker, and Christopher Schmidt, and the event will be moderated by ISCOTUS director Professor Carolyn Shapiro. (All of these Chicago-Kent faculty members — and several of their colleagues — can also be seen discussing key issues in the cases here.)

New Resource for Information about the Same Sex Marriage Cases

Want to learn more about the politics, history, and legal issues involved in the same sex marriage cases? ISCOTUS and The Oyez Project have created a “deep dive” website, containing a wealth of information about these cases, which will be argued on March 26 and 27, 2013. We encourage you to visit the site, explore, and share the link widely.

Same-sex Marriage Argument Audio to be Released Same Day

The Court today announced that recordings of oral arguments in the two same-sex marriage cases it will hear next week will be released same day. Oyez will also have the transcript-synchronized audio available same-day. The Court will hear arguments concerning California’s Proposition 8 on Tuesday, March 26, and concerning the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday, March 27.

Today’s voting rights oral argument

Shelby County v. Holder, the case challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, has gotten a lot of attention. But another very important voting rights case was argued on March 18 in the Supreme Court. This case, Arizona v. Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, involves a challenge to Arizona’s requirement that people show proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. According to several accounts, Justice Sotomayor and Justice Scalia were both extremely active questioners in today’s arguments — and were clearly in disagreement. You can hear for yourself when the argument becomes available at the end of this week. Listen here or on your ISCOTUSnow app, available at the iPhone app store for free!

Justice Sotomayor’s Comments on Denial of Certiorari

Usually when the Supreme Court denies certiorari, there is no comment at all from the justices. No one has way of knowing why the case was denied or what the justices thought about lower courts’ the decision. On Monday, February 25, however, when the Supreme Court denied certiorari in the case of Calhoun v. United States, Justice Sotomayor (joined by Justice Breyer) issued a statement. Justice Sotomayor agreed with the Court’s decision not to take the case but she was so appalled by the facts of the case that she felt compelled to comment.

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Court to Review Campaign Finance Limits


McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission

On February 19, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear argument in a case challenging some of the contribution limits in federal campaign finance laws. (The lower court rejected the challenge.) One possible outcome of the case, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is for the Supreme Court to declare some or all federal contribution limits unconstitutional. This possibility has drawn enormous attention.

But one point is worth keeping in mind when speculating about what the Court will do: The Court had no choice about whether or not to decide this case (a point also mentioned by Rick Hasen, proprietor of the Election Law Blog). There are a small number of types of cases, like this one, over which the Court has mandatory jurisdiction; in other words, parties can bring appeals to the Supreme Court as a right and the Court must decide them. The Court does not, of course, have to hear oral argument, and it often summarily affirms. But a summary affirmance is more consequential than a simple denial of certiorari, so as a practical matter, the justices may well have a lower bar for deciding to hear oral argument in such cases than they do for granting cert.

The Supreme Court and the public

On November 15 and 16, 2012, ISCOTUS and the Chicago-Kent Law Review co-sponsored a symposium on “The Supreme Court and the American Public.” The Symposium featured a keynote address by Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, a lunchtime address from Linda Greenhouse, former Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times, a journalists’ roundtable, and panels featuring academics from such institutions as Yale Law School and the University of Southern California, and George Washington University. Most of the proceedings were recorded and can be viewed here. Articles based on many of the presentations will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Chicago-Kent Law Review.