Weekly Roundup – March 17, 2017

Litigation over the President’s travel bans continues. Earlier this week, judges in Hawaii and Maryland issued orders preventing President Trump’s second travel-ban Executive Order from taking effect. In Hawaii, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson imposed a nationwide temporary restraining order after finding that “a reasonable, objective observer … would conclude that the executive order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion.” And in Maryland, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang issued a nationwide preliminary injunction enjoining one of the Executive Order’s provisions. Both courts relied on Trump’s campaign promises to impose a ban on Muslims coming to the United States, as well as on subsequent statements made by him and others. While speaking at a rally in Nashville after the Hawaii judge ruled, Trump vowed that he would take the case “as far as it needs to go,” including to the Supreme Court, to defend the ban.

Real Clear Politics recounts an interview CNN’s Anderson Cooper had with Alan Dershowitz, lawyer and constitutional scholar, about Trump’s travel order. Dershowitz explains that if the Supreme Court considers the ban, “[i]t will be an important decision because it will be the first time a court has really handled political statements during a campaign.” And the legal blogosphere is full of commentary on what the Supreme Court might and should do about those statements if and when it considers the travel ban. The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse at the University of Michigan is collecting the filings in all of the cases challenging the travel bans.

On a lighter note, this week Chief Justice Roberts presided over a trial in a lawsuit  against Tom Sawyer. The case was “brought by several boys, played by actors, who had come to regret whitewashing Aunt Polly’s fence. Tom’s guile in persuading them to do his work, they said, amounted to fraudulent misrepresentation.” As the New York Times noted, “the boys, though of limited means, had somehow managed to hire Paul D. Clement, a legal superstar, to represent them.” Tom Sawyer was likewise well-represented, by appellate and Supreme Court expert Cate Stetson. Athough the judicial panel ultimately concluded the case was moot and declined to issue a ruling, it appeared to be a successful evening of entertainment.

Be sure to check ISCOTUSnow next week for the latest news on Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, as hearings start Monday. ISCOTUS co-director Carolyn Shapiro, @cshaplaw, will be live-tweeting the hearings. Linda Greenhouse offers her opinion of the nominee and the nomination process in the New York Times this week. Echoing the ambivalent position of many on the left, she notes that while she is not opposed to Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation, at least based on what she currently knows, and she thinks it is time to bring the Supreme Court to “full strength,” “the Supreme Court vacancy is not rightfully President Trump’s to fill…”

To stay on top of the latest Supreme Court happenings, follow @ISCOTUS on Twitter.

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