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A Somber Day at the Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court justices will hear their first oral arguments of 2011 today, returning to the bench on a somber morning with a rare intrusion of the outside world into the marble palace. SCOTUSblog and the BLT reported Sunday evening that the Court will begin its session 10 minutes before the usual 10:00 a.m. start time, so that the first case will be concluded by 11:00 and the Court can observe the national moment of silence called for by President Barack Obama to honor to the victims of Saturday's shooting in Arizona. Tony Mauro notes in the BLT post that it is "unusual for the Court to recognize exterior events in a formal way."

The Court also issued a statement on Saturday from Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. honoring U.S. District Court Judge John Roll, who was among those killed. "We in the judiciary have suffered the terrible loss of one of our own," Roberts' statement reads (via SCOTUSblog). "Chief Judge Roll's death is a somber reminder of the importance of the rule of law and the sacrifices of those who work to secure it."

SCOTUSblog previews several of the cases to be argued this week, including the one that the justices are scheduled to hear just after observing the moment of silence today -- Montana v. Wyoming, which arrives at the Court's doorstep courtesy of its "original jurisdiction" over conflicts between states or between a state and the federal government. The original jurisdiction cases are a fascinating little corner of the high court's docket, and this looks like a particularly interesting one. SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston describes it as the modern-day legal system's version of a Wild West "water war" between Montana and Wyoming over the use of waters from two tributaries of the Yellowstone River.

This post was written by Laurel Newby, Law.com's courts editor.

Posted by Laurel Newby on January 10, 2011 at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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