It has been a busy start to 2013 for appeals in the news.
Death Row Inmates Not Entitled to Indefinite Stays of Appeals
In Ryan v. Gonzales, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 10-930; and Tibbals v. Carter, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 11-218, the Supreme Court held that death row defendants are not entitled to have their appeals indefinitely delayed until the defendants are judged competent to assist in their defense.
Stem Cell Research
The Supreme Court denied cert in a case challenging the use of embryonic stem cell research, thereby leaving in place the decision of the D.C. Circuit Sherley v. Sebelius, 644 F.3d 388 (D.C. Cir. 2011). The D.C. Circuit overturned a preliminary injunction preventing the National Institutes of Health from funding research using human embryonic stem cells. Although groups have touted the Supreme Court’s cert denial as a victory for science, it should be noted that a denial of cert does not endorse the Circuit Court’s holding, the denial simply is a refusal to intervene.
Justice Thomas Speaks
Justice Clarence Thomas broke his famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) seven-year silence during oral arguments. He did not ask a question but made a comment during oral argument in the matter of Boyer v. Louisiana. Although it is not entirely clear what Justice Thomas said, it appears that it was a light-hearted comment regarding Yale University, Justice Thomas’s alma mater.
The New York Times’ article on Justice Thomas’s comment contains a brief overview of some of his reasons for not asking questions during oral argument.
Oral Argument on Same-Sex Marriage
Finally, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear appeals involving same-sex marriage laws on March 26, 2013. These arguments will no doubt generate considerable publicity and public debate over the coming months.
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