Scholarship Highlight: The Supreme Court’s Misuse Of Per Curiam Opinions, by Ira Robbins, SCOTUSblog
“Per Curiam” is a Latin phrase that means “by the court.” It is sometimes used to distinguish an opinion written by the entire court rather than one of the judges.
When I worked for a Justice at the Oklahoma Supreme Court, I saw only one “per curiam” opinion handed down by the Court. Courts don’t decide appeals overnight. It usually takes a year or two before the Court renders an appeal. In this one unique situation, a case had languished for an inordinately long time. I will never know why the judge to whom the appeal had been assigned never got around to it.
To resolve the situation, the Chief Justice re-assigned the case to another judge, who made this particular appeal a priority. As quickly as possible, he wrote a draft opinion circulated to the rest of the court for consideration. When the opinion was adopted and handed down by the Court, the author written on the opinion itself said “per curiam.” The judge who actually wrote the opinion did not want to be unfairly criticized for the delay.
“Per curiam” can be used for other reasons. This post by Ira Robbins at SCOTUS Blog elaborates on the history, use, and misuse of this legal term of art. -CCE
Evening Round-Up: Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, by Kali Borkoski, SCOTUSblog
I have not yet read the entire opinion, as well as all of the separate opinions. This post provides links to many others that have already analyzed this decision and who wrote what. -CCE
This morning, a divided Court upheld an amendment to the Michigan constitution that prohibits the use of affirmative action by public universities in admissions. Justice Kennedy announced the judgment of the Court in an opinion that was joined by the Chief Justice and Justice Alito. Justice Scalia filed an opinion, concurring in the judgment only, that was joined by Justice Thomas, while Justice Breyer filed his own opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion (joined by Justice Ginsburg) and summarized her dissent from the bench. . . .
SCOTUS for law students (sponsored by Bloomberg Law): Why cases settle, by Stephen Wermiel, SCOTUS Blog
If you want an unusual measure of the power of the Supreme Court, consider why parties to a case sometimes (although rarely) settle their dispute after the Justices have agreed to hear the appeal and as oral argument approaches.
In some cases, the answer may simply be fear of losing, but it can also be much more profound: not only the fear of losing, but also a concern that in the process the loss may establish a legal precedent for the nation that one side of the case considers harmful.