Tuesday, May 24, 2011

California prison conditions

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Monday that the living conditions in overcrowded California prisons threatened inmates' health and violated constitutional rights against cruel and unusual punishment.
PBS Newshour's Marcia Coyle explains the ruling here. 7:34 min, transcript, .mp3
On NPR's All Things Considered, Nina Totenberg reports here. 4:59 min, transcript, .mp3
The name of the case is now Brown v. Plata, but was previously Schwarzenegger v. Plata. Arnold Schwarzenneger was the original petitioner as Governor of California, but was replaced by the current governor, Jerry Brown.
Presentations by opposing counsel, Carter Phillips and Paul Clement, two of the most able Supreme Court practitioners, can be found here (9-10 min each, no transcripts). The recordings of the oral arguments themselves, with Donald Specter (not Paul Clement) arguing for the respondents, can be found at this Oyez site (1h20min, transcripts).
Justice Scalia wrote a dissent and delivered rare oral remarks when the opinion was announced. The recordings of the oral announcements will be posted later on the Oyez site.
The Court's opinion is unusual because it includes three photos taken inside the prisons.
With this ruling, the Supreme Court has begun to release opinions in the most contentious of this term's cases before its summer break which starts at the end of June.