If there were any doubt that this is another blockbuster Supreme Court Term . . .

. . . it just ended.  Today the Supreme Court granted cert in Shelby County v. Holder, 12-96, which will address the following question (as mildly reformulated by the Court):

Whether Congress’ decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.

(The Fourteenth Amendment isn’t mentioned in the petition‘s version of the question presented; it’s otherwise identical.)

As regular readers of my other waste of electrons know, the Court relisted Shelby County twice before granting it today. A cynic would note that the relists had the effect of pushing the grant in this controversial case beyond the election, but I am not a cynic.  (And you can imagine that the Court might prefer not to be an issue in a political campaign regardless of which side it might benefit.)

Questions presented in the other three grants (including an important DNA testing case) after the jump.


Maryland v. King, 12-207, is an important case involving whether the Fourth Amendment allows the states to collect and analyze DNA from people arrested and charged with serious crimes.

American Express Co. v. Italian Colors Restaurant, 12-133, presents the question whether the Federal Arbitration Act permits courts, invoking the “federal substantive law of arbitrability,” to invalidate arbitration agreements on the ground that they do not permit class arbitration of a federal-law claim.  (Justice Sotomayor is recused.)

Peugh v. United States, 12-62, presents the question whether a sentencing court violates the Ex Post Facto Clause by using the Sentencing Guidelines in effect at the time of sentencing rather than the Guidelines in effect at the time of the offense, if the newer Guidelines create a significant risk that the defendant will receive a longer sentence.