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SCOTUS Conference

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Today was a conference day at the US Supreme Court. That is when the Justices decide which of the cases from lower courts they are going to review. (They only take about 1 in a 100.) Up for a third consideration are two dubious decisions in capital cases from circuits divisible by 3: Wong v. Belmontes, No. 08-1263 from California and Bobby (Anderson?) v. Van Hook, No. 09-144 from Ohio. An orders list with the results of today's conference is expected at 10:00 am ET tomorrow (Tuesday).

The fact that each of these cases has been put on the conference list three times is an indication (but not a guarantee) that the Court is considering something more than just the usual binary choice of "yes, we will take it" or "no, we won't." That something may be a summary reversal, an action reserved for opinions so obviously wrong that full briefing and argument is unnecessary.

Update, Tuesday morning: The orders list is here, and neither of the above cases is on it. Presumably, they will be "relisted" for a fourth consideration. The Court took a Gitmo detainee case and a commercial case involving shipping, described at SCOTUSblog.

The Court denied review of a Virginia case on stopping drivers based on a tip that they are drunk, over a dissent by Chief Justice Roberts. Virginia v. Harris, No. 08-1385 is here.

The first opinion of the term is a summary reversal in an Indiana capital habeas case, Corcoran v. Levenhagen, which I will describe in a separate post.

Update 2: The Texas capital case of Mosley v. Thaler, previously noted here and here, was among those denied today. Mosley contended, and the state denied, that the case was similar to the pending Alabama case of Wood v. Allen, set for argument November 4. (CJLF brief here.) Is the denial of certiorari a harbinger of an Alabama win in Wood, or did the Court accept Texas's argument that the cases are not really similar? Any answer to that question is pure speculation.

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