Monday, June 29, 2015

Last Call For SCOTUSpalooza

The final cases of the term today:

Glossip v Gross, the Oklahoma lethal injection case, 5-4 with Alito writing the decision for Kennedy and the conservatives, saying that the drug midazolam, which Oklahoma uses to put death row inmates into a coma state before lethal injection, does not violate the Eighth Amendment on cruel and unusual punishment. SCOTUS ruled in a previous case that pentobarbital or sodium thiopental are no longer available for that purpose, the plaintiffs in the case argued that midazolam wasn’t as effective and the court basically rejected that argument.

Breyer and Ginsburg apparently asked for a ruling on the constitutionality of the death penalty itself, not enough votes to take that up. Blistering dissents from Sotomayor and Breyer on this one.

Arizona redistricting case, 5-4, Ginsburg’s opinion, joined by Kennedy and the liberals, holds that Arizona’s commission for redistricting created by a state referendum is valid, and that Arizona’s legislature does have standing to sue but that the case was rejected on the merits, upholding a lower court decision.

Multiple dissents by the conservative justices. California has a similar commission, and the question was if only the legislature could redistrict based on the Elections Clause of the Constitution, which says “Times, Places, and Manner of holding Elections for […] Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the Legislature thereof.”

Michigan v EPA case, 5-4 with Scalia writing the opinion, Kennedy joining the conservatives. The EPA must take costs into account before deciding what regulations are necessary, but it is up to the agency to make that decision. However that effectively means the EPA has to justify the cost of President Obama’s EPA power plant rules, which the industry says will cost tens of billions of something ridiculous. It effectively means the power plant regulations have to be 100% rewritten. Whether or not that will happen before the end of this administration, who knows.

That’s all, folks.

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