#SCOTUS Lets VA Gov. McDonnell Stay Out of Jail for Now: What It Means

Via Chris Geidner comes this order from the Supreme Court keeping Virginia ex-governor Bob McDonnell out of jail pending a Supreme Court decision whether or not to hear his case after he lost in the trial court and the 4th Circuit. He remains on bail until either the Supreme Court denies cert. or, if it takes the case, until the end of his case in the Court.

What does it mean? To begin with, it means it is fairly likely the Court will take his case, and there is at least a decent chance he will win it (that’s because the standards the Court considers in granting a stay factor in the likelihood of a cert. grant and an eventual win in the case).  it is no sure thing. It might be that there are simply enough Justices who think the issue merits serious consideration. But it is quite rare for the Court to keep a convicted criminal defendant out of jail pending a cert. petition, and this no doubt reflects both the famous nature of the defendant as well as concern about what counts as official acts for purposes of bribery laws. The case will likely provide the Court with an opportunity to further explore the line between what counts as illegal bribery and what counts as politics as usual, a line which the Court has found more difficult to police than one might think.

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