No major opinions handed down today; but here's what we've got as we near the home stretch:
- In two cases, they expanded the ability of criminal defendants to challenge the racial composition of their juries. Miller-El is the more interesting of the two if only because Justice Breyer concurs separately to call for the end of peremptory challenges. In the other, the Court made clear that a prima facie case of juror discrimination just requires a reasonable inference that it occured, not a "more likely than not" standard.
- Unanimously holds that a plea bargain is legal so long as your lawyer explains the terms to you sufficiently; the judge doesn't have to himself. But there's some interesting stuff about prosecutorial inconsistency that gets remanded for another day.
- Unanimously refused to expand the due process protections given a defendant in determining whether he gets moved to a SuperMax, such as granting him the right to call witnesses or have an adversary hearings.
* In a unanimous decision in patent law (which I don't understand), gave drug researchers expanded legal right to do animal studies -- so-called "pre-clinical studies" -- on an existing patented drug as they seek to develop a generic version for later marketing.
The real story is on the cases for which the Justices announced today that they would not be granting certiorari -- in other words, they're letting the lower court decisions stand, and will not be hearing the cases:
- most importantly, they denied review on the latest Constitution In Exile claim -- seeing if the Interstate Commerce Clause extended far enough for the Endangered Species Act to legitimately protect a species of 1/8-inch-long cave bugs, which allegedly lacked any known value in commerce, and existed nowhere other than a cave outside Austin, TX.
- the Court refused to preemptively hear Jose Padilla's challenge to his status as an "enemy combatant" before the Fourth Circuit hears it first;
- the Court denied review on six separate petitions on the new rules on media ownership issued by the FCC which were struck down by a federal Circuit Court a year ago.
Seventeen cases, including Grokster (file sharing), the Ten Commandments case and a major Takings case, remain outstanding.