The Supreme Court this morning granted review in 14 new cases to be argued in its new term, adding to the 40 it had granted before it recessed for the summer. The order list is the product of the Court's so-called "long conference" Monday at which, in private, it considered the thousands of petitions that have piled up during the summer recess. It was Justice Elena Kagan's first such conference, and as junior justice it would have been her responsibility to report to the Court clerk all the cases the Court agreed to hear.
The list also indicated that Kagan has decided to recuse in four of the new cases, presumably because of her role at earlier stages as solicitor general. That makes for a at total of 25 cases out of the 54 the Court has granted so far in which Kagan will not participate. The new cases in which she has recused are: Astra USA Inc. v. Santa Clara County, a dispute between public hospitals and drug companies; FCC v. AT&T, which asks whether corporate "personhood" extends to the Freedom of Information Act which exempts the release of government documents that invade "personal privacy" (we wrote about the case here); United States v. Tinklenberg, a Speedy Trial Act case; and Schindler Elevator Corp. v. United States, a False Claims Act case.
The Court agreed to hear a pair of potentially important cases examining whether the government can sue a private party and then invoke the "state secret" privilege in a way that deprives the party from mounting a defense. The cases are General Dynamics Corp. v. United States and Boeing Company v. United States.
The celebrity bankruptcy case involving Anna Nicole Smith has returned to the high court, even though Smith, her former billionaire husband J. Howard Marshall II, and his son E. Pierce Marshall are all dead.The case is titled Stern v. Marshall.
In Connick v. Thompson, the Court today also rejected an effort by former solicitor general Paul Clement and a group of former federal prosecutors to obtain argument time on the side of the defendant in a case involving prosecutorial misconduct in New Orleans. We wrote about the effort here.
Finally, the Court's order list included "circuit allotments" for the justices -- which justice is assigned to each federal circuit for the purposes of handling emergency and other matters from the circuits. New Justice Elena Kagan has been assigned the Sixth and Seventh Circuits, which had been the province of her predecessor John Paul Stevens until he retired in June.