“Supreme Court Sends Signals to Request Cases They Want to Hear”

New Adam Liptak Sidebar column:

Supreme Court justices like to say that they have no agenda. Cases come to them unbidden. They decide the ones that need deciding.

The reality is more complicated. The justices sometimes use their opinions to send messages about the kinds of cases they would like to hear.

Bat signals sent in the term that just ended included one from Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who asked for a case about solitary confinement, and another from Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who asked to consider the constitutionality of the death penalty.

The next term, which starts in October, will feature three cases brought at least partly in response to similar invitations.

I have written about this phenomenon and related ways Supreme Court Justices try to move the law in Anticipatory Overrulings, Invitations, Time Bombs, and Inadvertence: How Supreme Court Justices Move the Law, 61 Emory Law Journal 779 (2012). [corrected link]

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