I was startled when I heard his voice. "Can you give me another area, where a misdemeanor violation suspends a Constitutional right?" That was the opening question from Justice Clarence Thomas in Voisine v. United States at minute 41, hear the audio here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/audio/2015/14-10154
The issue in Voisine is "Whether a misdemeanor crime with the mens rea of recklessness qualifies as a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" as defined by 18 U.S.C. §§ 921(a)(33)(A) and 922(g)(9); and (2) whether 18 U.S.C. §§ 921(a)(33)(A) and 922(g)(9) are unconstitutional under the Second, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments and the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution."
Most of the discussion was focused on the common law definition of battery, unwanted touching, recklessness and federal statutes. But Justice Thomas raised the question of whether this person should lose a Constitutional right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, for what amounts to a misdemeanor.
I listen to all of the oral arguments when I run and each voice is distinctive. This voice, you never hear. I was also gauging the exchanges between counsel and the Justices since the passing of Justice Scalia, who is noticeably absent. Justices Ginsburg, Alito, Kagan, Sotomayor and Breyer, all actively participating. But Justice Thomas' question and follow ups, could have been Justice Scalia asking...pressing the magnitude of the impact of this decision. I hope this is a sign of things to come!
Another case that I expect we would have heard a lot from Justice Scalia is Utah v. Strieff. http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/audio/2015/14-1373 This case asks: "Should evidence seized incident to a lawful arrest on an outstanding warrant be suppressed because the warrant was discovered during an investigatory stop later found to be unlawful?"
The discussion here was dominated by Justice Sotomayor (arguing the case on behalf of Respondant) and Justice Alito, asserting the need for warrant checks for police safety. This is an interesting case that asks if police should be able to stop everyone in a particular neighborhood that may have a high number of outstanding warrants, run warrant checks, and then arrest them. If they find illegal substances during the legal arrest, then that evidence is admissable...maybe. Fourth Amendment is always being tested!
Another case worth listening to is Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing, LLC http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/audio/2015/14-614
This is a complicated regulatory case which raises the question: "Does the Federal Power Act preempt attempted state regulation of utility contracts and sales?" The State of Maryland solicited bids for a power generating plant that would use revenue over a 20 year contract to pay for the construction of the plant. Attorney Paul D. Clement skillfully argues for respondents that this will distort the wholesale energy bidding system. No matter the subject, if Paul Clement is arguing, its worth listening.