Supreme Court Criminal Law Docket in 2007-2008: Kristina Moore at SCOTUSblog posted a summary of the criminal cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court this term. Moore reports that of the 24 cases involving criminal law, 12 involved sentencing guidelines or felony definitions, and seven cases addressed strictly procedural issues. Some interesting facts from Moore's post: (1) Of the 24 criminal cases, Justice Kennedy cast 12 votes in favor of the defendant, and 12 votes in favor of the prosecution; (2) Justice Stevens actually voted more for the prosecution this term - he only voted for the defendant in 54% of the decisions, whereas last term he voted for the defendant 76.5% of the time; and (3) Chief Justice Roberts' support for the defendant actually increased in OT07. The Chief Justice voted for the defendant in 38% of the cases, an increase from his 18% support of the defendant in OT06.
The Definition of "Judicial Activism": Over at Bench Memos (NRO) Gerard Bradley has a post pondering the exact meaning of judicial activism. While Bradley struggles with how to give the term "an intelligible and independent meaning", Bradley does believe that the definition of judicial activism is related to the sources of judicial reasoning. He submits that an activist is "at work" if the grounds for a decision are not "fairly inferable from the constitutional text, structure, or history of its authoritative interpretation." Bradley's post references Ed Whalen's earlier post defending the term judicial activism. Whalen believes the term "judicial activism" "identifies one category of judicial error in interpreting the Constitution: the wrongful overriding of democratic enactments (often through the invention of supposed constitutional rights)." "Judicial activism" is distinguishable from what Whalen calls "judicial passivism -- the wrongful failure to enforce constitutional rights."
Federalism and Danforth v. Minnesota: Ilya Somin has a post plugging the publication of his article in Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy. The article, now available at SSRN, discusses the tension between state courts that seek to provide greater protection than provided by the Supreme Court's interpretation of the federal Constitution. The Danforth decision held state courts could provide victims of constitutional rights violations broader remedies, and Somin's article discusses and provides "doctrinal justification" for the decision.