Federal Courts and Nominations

A Quick Win for D.C. Circuit Nominee Caitlin Halligan’s Client, As Supreme Court Disposes of Case in A Week

As I discussed in a prior post, here, D.C. Circuit Nominee Caitlin Halligan made her fifth appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court last Monday, March 21st, arguing for the respondent State of New York in Tolentino v. New York, a case in which petitioner Tolentino had urged the Court to hold that identity-related records maintained by the government and accessed because of a Fourth Amendment violation could be subject to suppression under the exclusionary rule.  Today, a mere eight days after the oral argument, the Supreme Court in an unsigned opinion dismissed the case, stating only that the writ of certiorari had been “improvidently granted.”  As is typical of such dismissals, the Court gave no reason for coming to that conclusion.

While not a ruling on the merits, the dismissal leaves the lower court decision intact, the outcome sought by Ms. Halligan on behalf of New York.  In fact, in her brief in opposition to the petition for a writ of certiorari, Ms. Halligan urged the Court not to take the case in the first place, arguing, among other things, that it presented “an especially poor vehicle for resolving any questions about the scope of the exclusionary rule.”  Perhaps the Justices now wish they had listened to Ms. Halligan at the time.


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