Four decisions down, three left to go including the D.C. gun case before the Supreme Court adjourns for the summer on Thursday. That's the upshot of this morning's session, which ended with Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. announcing that at Thursday's session, all the remaining cases on the docket that are "ready" would be released. That little caveat about only releasing cases that are ready on Thursday is standard language, but it does leave open the very remote possibility that the Second Amendment case D.C. v. Heller won't be announced because it's not ready and could be scheduled for re-argument in the fall. But that's extremely unlikely; for reasons that are not entirely clear, the culture of the Court demands that the justices clean their desks, so to speak, of all pending cases before they adjourn.
So on Thursday we can expect not only the Heller case but an energy regulatory case Morgan Stanley Capital Group v. Public Utility District No. 1, argued Feb. 19, and Davis v. Federal Election Commission, the case argued April 22 that involves a provision of the McCain-Feingold campaign reform law setting special rules for campigns in which one campaign is self-financed.
The key decisions announced this morning were: Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, in which the majority cut the size of the punitive damages awarded to the fishermen harmed by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, and Kennedy v. Louisiana, a ruling that bars the death penalty for those convicted of rape that does not lead to death. Both cases were argued by Stanford Law School professor Jeffrey Fisher, also a partner at at Davis Wright Tremaine. Fisher represented the losing Alaska fishermen, and the winning rapist Patrick Kennedy.
More on today's decisions later at LegalTimes.com.