Nina Totenberg

Democrats may hold 49 votes in the Senate but for all practical purposes, they have been completely disarmed when it comes to opposing President Trump's judicial nominees.

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The Supreme Court handed down five decisions Monday, and one that could pave a path for legalizing sports gambling throughout the country got most of the attention Monday morning. But the court also decided two important criminal justice and personal rights cases.

In one, McCoy v. Louisiana, the court ruled 6-3 in favor of a defendant whose lawyer told a jury that his client was guilty, disregarding the explicit instructions of his client. His lawyer wanted him to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty.

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During intense arguments at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the justices, by a narrow margin, seemed to be leaning toward upholding the third and current version of the Trump travel ban.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is often the deciding vote in closely contested cases, for example, made repeated comments suggesting that the court does not usually second-guess a president's national security decisions — even in the context of an immigration law that bans discrimination based on nationality.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that foreign corporations cannot be sued for damages in U.S. courts for aiding in terrorist attacks or other human rights violations. The vote was 5-to-4.

Writing for the conservative majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the"courts are not well suited to make the required policy judgments implicated by corporate liability in cases like this one."

Rather, the political branches — Congress and the executive — should deal with these issues, he said.

It is rare, if not unheard of, for former intelligence experts to weigh in against the government in a major national security case. But the Trump travel ban, to be argued Wednesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, has produced an astounding and bipartisan coalition of intelligence and national security heavyweights who are urging the court to strike down the ban.

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Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

Going into Tuesday's arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court, it looked as though the court was headed toward reversing a 50-year-old decision that barred states from collecting taxes on out-of-state purchases.

But after the arguments, it looked as though a court majority just might preserve the status quo, and that would be a huge victory for online sellers.

The case presents a multibillion-dollar dispute, and the outcome will directly affect consumers, cash-strapped states and companies large and small.

Updated at 6:28 p.m. ET

President Trump took the extraordinary step Friday of overruling the judgment of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and granting a pardon to I. Lewis Libby Jr., who served as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Libby, known as "Scooter," was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in 2007 in connection with the leak of a CIA officer's identity. Bush had commuted Libby's sentence but did not issue a full pardon.

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