A day without dissents on the Supreme Court

June 2, 2014

The Supreme Court issued opinions in three argued cases today, and the Court was unanimous in the judgment on all three (even if one produced multiple opinions articulating different rationales).

In two patent cases, Limelight Networks v. Akamai Technologies and Nautilus v. Biosig Instruments, the Court unanimously rebuffed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  It seems the Federal Circuit does not get much love these days at One First Street. It was unanimously reversed in the Octane Fitness case too.

In the third case, Bond v. United States, the Court unanimously overturned Carol Anne Bond’s conviction for violating the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act.  Although the Court was urged to resolve this case on constitutional grounds, and define the scope of Congress’s power to implement treaties, the Court’s opinion by Chief Justice Roberts took the alternative route of reading the statute narrowly so as to avoid the constitutional question.  This has become a common tactic of the Chief.  He did the same thing in NAMUDNO and NFIB, among other cases.  What we’ve seen is that where he has the votes, he will narrow a statute in order to deflect a constitutional challenge and avoid holding a duly enacted statute to be unconstitutional.  Not all of his colleagues like this approach, however.  Note that in Bond, Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito each authored opinions concurring in the judgment.

I’m sure my co-bloggers will have more to say about this case later, as they had quite a bit to say about it before and when it was argued.  Here’s Nick Rosenkranz’s post on his amicus brief in the case and you can find many other related posts here.  UPDATE: Eugene has posted excerpts and a summary here.

Jonathan H. Adler teaches courses in constitutional, administrative, and environmental law at the Case Western University School of Law, where he is the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation.
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