An Ode to First Monday

I would be remiss if I let today get by without noting that it’s the First Monday in October — which appellate geeks all know is the start of the term for the United States Supreme Court. Turns out one New Jersey resident is well aware of the significance of the day. Graham Blackman-Harris has been to nearly every First Monday for the past 20 years.

What Blackman-Harris told the Washington Post is true:

“Every American should see the Supreme Court in action,” he said. “Anyone going to the court will see we have a magnificent array of talent on that court.”

Every citizen should get thee to the Court at least once in a lifetime. It’s really awe inspiring to see argument in action.

The Court had an interesting first day including this curious order [pdf]:

10-11054 MURPHY, CHARLES M. V. KOLLAR-KOTELLY, JUDGE, USDC DC
Because the Court lacks a quorum, 28 U.S.C. §1, and since the qualified Justices are of the opinion that the case cannot be heard and determined at the next Term of the Court, the judgment is affirmed under 28 U.S.C. §2109, which provides that under these circumstances “the court shall enter its order affirming the judgment of the court from which the case was brought for review with the same effect as upon affirmance by an equally divided court.” The Chief Justice, Justice Scalia, Justice Kennedy, Justice Thomas, Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and Justice Alito took no part in the consideration or decision of this petition.

It turns out that this is what happens when you sue Supreme Court justices personally — they recuse themselves and the litigant is guaranteed an affirmance. The Volokh Conspiracy commenters have a line on the backstory. Lyle Denniston has a good summary of today’s argument over at SCOTUSBLOG.

Finally, for a rundown on the cases the Court will be considering this Term, the New York Times’ article hits the highlights. However, I like Wired’s take even more, because it points out the intellectual property cases on deck, including:
Golan v. Holder, October 5, 2011, which will decide if Congress can recapture, on behalf of copyright owners, works that are in the public domain.
Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., December 7, 2011, which concerns the patentability of observations.
ASCAP v. United States, (date TBD) which will decide whether a download is a public performance under the Copyright Act.

Grab the popcorn, folks. It’s shaping up to be an interesting term.

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