Glossip v Gross

Glossip and other Oklahoma death row inmates sued arguing Oklahoma’s use of midazolam as part of the death penalty protocol violates the 8thAmendment. The district court denied a preliminary injunction and the 10th circuit affirmed. The Court, 5-4, affirmed. The majority held that Glossip failed to identify a method of execution that lessened the risk of severe pain and that the testimony presented about the drug was sufficient for the district court to find that at the levels used the drug renders a person insensitive to pain. Scalia, joined by Thomas, added a concurrence arguing that the death penalty is not prohibited by the 8th Amendment, that the delays that concern the dissenters arise from the Court’s jurisprudence and if any case needs to be revisited it is the case allowing the court to regulate the death penalty in light of evolving standards of decency. Thomas, joined by Scalia added a concurrence arguing that the studies relied upon by dissenters to argue for abolition of death penalty are themselves arbitrary and not trustworthy and the murders resulting in a death sentence are egregious and this is enough to leave life and death decisions to juries, who are charged by the Constitution to make the decision. Breyer, joined by Ginsberg, dissented arguing that the death penalty should be declared categorically unconstitutional as convictions in death cases are unreliable, the imposition of a death sentence is arbitrary explained by geography more than egregiousness, the delays caused by the current system are inordinate and undermine the rationale of retribution, and the death penalty is increasingly rare both in sentencing and it carrying the sentence out. Sotomayor joined by Ginsberg, Breyer and Kagan dissented arguing that the evidence resented below demonstrates midazolam cannot keep a person unconscious and does not stop a person form feeling pain and thus there is an unconstitutionally high risk of severe pain during the execution and there is no requirement for Glossip to prove the availability of a better method of execution. The dissent noted the majority approach may lead to defendants calling for a return of the firing squad which would be a devolution in society’s death penalty experience.

Arizona State Legislature v Arizona Independent redistricting Commission

Commission was established by an initiative and creates district for congressional and state legislative seats. Legislature sued arguing Commission was constitutionally barred form create congressional districts. A split three judge district court panel rejected their argument and the court, 5-4, affirmed. The majority held that Legislature had standing as eth removal of federal restricting power was a concrete injury. It held that under Court precedent, “legislature’ in the Constitution means the state’s mechanisms to exercise legislative power and may include executive vetoes and referendum and nothing in the applicable reapportionment statute changes that rule. Here, Arizona voters had the right to decide where the legislative power to redistrict would be exercised and the elections clause was to empower federal overrides not dictate how legislative power was to be exercised at the state level and ruling or legislature here would imperil all elations laws adopted by the people through direct democracy. Roberts, joined by Scalia, Thomas and Alito, dissented arguing that “legislature” in the Constitution means the representative body created in state constitutions to exercise legislative power and not the people as evidenced by the 17th Amendment relating tot eh election of senators and every use of the term in the body of the Constitution He also argued the statutory interpretation for eh reapportionment statute either didn’t apply as there was no failure to restrict or would be unconstitutional as allowing congressional amendment of the elections clause and improper delegation of restricting authority. Scalia joined by Thomas dissented arguing that the case involved a claim by a state political subunit about the distribution of power in that state’s government and the Court’s consistently rejects jurisdiction in those cases. Thomas, joined by Scalia dissented arguing that the majority’s solicitude for direct democracy ere has been strikingly absent in cases involving marriage, affirmative action and other areas where the outcomes did not correspond to the views of the justices ruling on those cases.

Michigan v Environmental Protection Agency

Agency, acting under a provision of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, concluded regulating certain power plant emissions was necessary and appropriate without considering costs. Michigan and other states challenged the resulting rules in the DC Circuit which affirmed. The Court, 5-4, reversed. The majority held that cost is part of any analysis of appropriateness, cost is explicitly part of other studies required by the same section of the relevant statute, and the Court cannot sustain the decision here on grounds that were not used by Agency including later cost estimates. Thomas added a concurrence arguing Chevron deference raises serious constitutional issues and should be revisited. Kagan, joined by Ginsberg, Breyer and Sotomayor, dissented arguing that while Agency did not consider costs at the initial appropriate and necessary stage, it di consider costs during the multi-year process of evaluation and rule drafting and thus its interpretation of the Clean Air Act provision here is reasonable and Chevron deference should apply.