Little Action on SCOTUS Monday

The U.S. Supreme Court released its orders list from Friday’s conference, but there is little action in criminal law.

The Boston Marathon Bomber case was not acted on, and the next conference is February 19. Hopes of having the case heard and decided this term are fading.

Justice Gorsuch, joined by Justice Thomas, has a short dissent from denial of certiorari in Silver v. United States, No. 20-60, calling for reconsideration of a precedent that he says obscured the distinction between extortion and bribery. I’m not so sure those offenses are necessarily distinct. A government official who demands a bribe before he will do something the law obligates him to do (e.g., issue a permit to someone who is entitled to it) is both extorting a payment and taking a bribe. (In countries where corruption is pandemic, this is a major impediment to doing business.)

In civil matters, the Court issued the first mootness orders in cases that no longer matter due to the change of administrations. There will be more.