Supreme Court News Roundup

In case you missed them the first time around, here is a roundup of some of the most interesting recent stories about the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Halts Alabama Execution

On January 25, the Supreme Court granted a stay of execution for Vernon Madison, a death row inmate in Alabama.

In 1994, a jury recommended that Mr. Madison receive life imprisonment, but the trial judge overrode that determination and sentenced Mr. Madison to death. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit determined that Mr. Madison—who has dementia, has suffered a series of strokes, and is unable to remember the crime—was incompetent to be executed.

Last fall, the Supreme Court reversed this holding in a per curiam decision. Madison’s attorneys at the Equal Justice Initiative filed his most recent petition for certiorari on January 18, 2018. A week later, over the dissenting votes of Justice Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch, the Court issued the stay so it could consider the petition.

The Equal Justice Initiative discusses Mr. Madison’s story and the history of his case here.

Justice Gorsuch in Artis

In his blog LAWnLinguistics, Neil Gofarb discusses Justice Gorsuch’s dissent in Artis v. District of Columbia, a case decided on January 22 concerning the tolling provision of the federal supplemental jurisdiction statute. Gofarb criticizes the dictionaries Gorsuch chose to demonstrate the ambiguity of the word “toll.”

Justice Ginsburg Speech

Instead of attending the State of the Union address, Justice Ginsburg spoke at Roger Williams University School of Law on Tuesday, January 30. The Associated Press covered the event, at which Ginsburg described her concern over rising levels partisanship in Washington, and her fear that the federal judiciary will be perceived as being partisan. Ginsburg likened partisanship to the threat that McCarthyism and Red Scare posed to America in the 1950s. She remains hopeful, however. “That time has passed. This time will too. We have something so wonderful in this nation,” she told her audience. “That democracy exists. It would be tragic to lose it. And I think good people, no matter whether Democrat or Republican, appreciate that.”

Ideologies on the Court

At Empircal SCOTUS, Adam Feldmen analyzes disagreement on the Court by calculating the “the most antagonistic pairs of justices based on majority and dissent authorship.” Feldman notes that the ideology of individual justices is likely not the main factor underpinning most disagreement on the Court. Justice Kennedy, who occupies the ideological middle ground, is the majority author in five of the top ten most antagonistic pairs of justices.


This post was drafted by ISCOTUS Fellow Elisabeth Heiber, Chicago-Kent Class of 2019, and was edited by ISCOTUS Editorial Coordinator Anna Jirschele, Chicago-Kent Class of 2018, and ISCOTUS Co-Director and Chicago-Kent faculty member Christopher Schmidt.

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