Federal Courts and Nominations

The Top 10 Supreme Court Previews

By Andrew Cohen

Can’t get enough pre-season Court coverage? A legal analyst rounds up the case previews worth reading this weekend.

This is the final installment of a three-part series this week previewing the coming term of the United States Supreme Court, which officially starts next Monday. Part I looked at some of the big cases on the docket. Part II looked at what the justices and said on their summer vacations.

Previewing The Previews

It’s the last Friday in September, just hours before the first Monday in October, which means you cannot swing a cat without hitting a preview of the coming Supreme Court term. I wrote one earlier this week. My esteemed colleague here at The Atlantic, Garrett Epps, wrote a really good one yesterday. And all throughout the universe of law and journalism, women and men of good cheer and business suits are chiming in from behind water glasses and paper name-cards to help explore and explain what the nine justices will be pondering over the next nine months.

Because I know you’ll itch to have something meaty to absorb while you are watching the start of the playoffs in baseball, or the excellent college football games Saturday afternoon, or the even better professional football games on Sunday, I figured I would save you the trouble of scouring through the InterWeb to find the best Supreme Court previews out there. My list of 10 is by no means complete. But it’s a good start and I hope you’ll free free in the comments to suggest other previews which are worthwhile.

Before the list, however, I want to add one note on the one conflict everyone cares about this term, the one the justices have not yet accepted for review. Even if the Affordable Care Act was not on its way to the docket, there are two cases on tap that will impact the delivery of health care in America anyway. In Caraco Pharmaceutical v. Novo Nordisk, the justices will broker a dispute between generic drug manufacturers and their brand-name counterparts. And in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboraties, the justices will return again to the issue of whether a doctor’s diagnostic methods may be patented. The Mayo case in particular bears watching.

And now for the previews.

1. In Friday’s USA Today, Joan Biskupic, one of the doyennes of the High Court beat, has a preview that covers the gulf from “naked buttocks” (television indecency) to “GPS tracking” (Fourth Amendment). It’s a good place to start if you want a general overview without committing too much time to the endeavor.

2. The Constitutional Accountability Center has a smart preview by Elizabeth B. Wydra, its chief counsel. She leads her summary with Coleman v. Maryland Court of Appeals: “In Coleman, the Court will decide whether a state can be sued under the “self-care” provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which prohibit employment discrimination based on an employee’s attempt to obtain leave due to his or her own serious health condition.” Like I said, who needs the Affordable Care Act to make this a big term on health care law?

3. National Public Radio has a good audio preview here, from Talk of the Nation, in which veteran Court reporter David Savage offers his assessments. The good news is that Neal Katyal, the former solicitor general, also chimes in. The bad news is that the preview is over 30 minutes long, which means you can’t knock it off during a halftime. And why isn’t Garrison Keilor doing Supreme Court previews anymore?

4. In case you can never get enough of a chatty former solicitor general, the Heritage Foundation also did a 2011 Supreme Court preview, but this one focuses on the views of Paul Clement. Here’s the link to the video. Extra credit for anyone who accurately counts the number of times the word “Obamacare’ is used.
5. No Obamacare here at the American Constitution Society, which held its own Supreme Court preview two weeks ago. Warning: If you watch the Heritage Foundation video right before the ACS video, or vice versa, your head may explode with wonderment that these learned people are all talking about the same cases before the same court.

6. Regular readers of this space know that I try when I can to raise attention to Indian law issues, which almost never get the mainstream attention they often deserve. Here then from Turtle Talk is a straightforward preview of the cases the justices could accept for review this term. Unfortunately, the High Court has a shameful record of blowing off Native American interests in the certiorari process.

7. The NYU Law School previews the term here, with a nice question-and-answer exchange that typically isn’t included in other previews. Did you ever wonder what the Times’ Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak looks and sounds like? Find out here. Extra credit if you can come up with a funny caption for the bottom half of the old portrait in the background of the camera shot.

8. Speaking of NYU, the Brennan Center for Justice has this very strong look at those cases this term which impact civil rights and liberties. Smart folks, those NYUers. They have the Milbank Tweed law firm sponsor the video preview and then have the Paul Weiss lawyers write up their own preview for the Brennan Center. The best of both words, President John Kennedy once said, a Harvard education and a Yale degree.

9. Whatever else in common they may have, the justices all qualify to belong to the American Association of Retired Persons. So, it probably makes some sense to throw AARP’s preview into the mix. The bad news is that it is 57 pages long. The good news is that you can use it to your advantage over the weekend if you go to your folks’ house to watch the games. Just print it out and give it to your mom or dad. When they fall asleep reading it on page 6, you can watch the game you want to watch and not the one they are making you watch.

10. And last but not least there is the Federalist Society’s preview, which you can view here. My CBS News colleague Jan Crawford is the moderator and Neal Katyal shows up again, too, this time truly in the lion’s den. Extra credit if you are willing and able to compare and contrast the tone of this preview with the tone of the preview from the Heritage Foundation. Have a nice weekend, everyone. I’ll be in front of the television if I’m not outside.

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