David Garrow reviewed Justice Blackmun's papers
, released to the public in 2005
, and concludes
that towards the end of his career, Blackmun's clerks all but signed his opinions. In an interview
, discussing senility and Supreme Court Justices, Garrow argues that there has been "a dramatic increase over the last 35 or 45 years in the amount of the justices’ work that is performed by their law clerks," and recommends a "reduction to two or, even better yet, one clerk" from the four clerks available per Justice now. Garrow also comments on the now-deceased Chief Justice Rehnquist, who suffered from an addiction to painkillers in the 1980s
. Garrow's view is controversial
, though, and Legal Affairs published several responses
in the same issue. Other law professors have weighed in, including Dan Markel
, Mark Tushnet
, and some of the folks at the Volokh Conspiracy
. So how large
is the impact
of law clerks?
South Dakota House approves sweeping abortion ban
Although saying they personally abhor abortion, opponents made several unsuccessful attempts to make exceptions in cases of rape and incest, and to protect pregnant women whose health may be endangered.
Alito's First Vote.
In his first significant act on the Supreme Court, Justice Alito splits with his conservative colleagues, and votes to refuse to let Missouri execute a death-row inmate contesting lethal injection. You can read the (very short) order on page four of yesterday's order sheet
[pdf]. More commentary at SCOTUSblog
, and discussion of Alito's approach to the death penalty is available at Sentencing Law & Policy
Samuel Alito was sworn in as the nation's 110th Supreme Court justice Tuesday after being confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 58-42.(CNN)
This morning, 42 Senators voted against Alito's nomination. That's the highest number of votes against any Supreme Court nominee since Clarence Thomas in 1991. (from Kerry's email)
The Supreme Court decided Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood
today, vacating the lower court's ruling that the parental notification statute was unconstitional. Instead, the Court instructed the lower court to consider narrower relief. The Court, in an opinion [pdf]
written by Justice O'Connor, held that if enforcing a statute that regulates access to abortion would be unconstitutional in medical emergencies, invalidating the statute entirely is not always necessary or justified, for lower courts may be able to render narrower declaratory and injunctive relief. [more inside]
Supreme Court upholds Oregon's assisted suicide law.
Justice Kenedy wrote the opinion for the majority, concluding that Ashcroft did not have the authority to sanction doctors under the Controlled Substances Act. Justice Scalia dissented, joined by Justice Thomas and Chief Justice Roberts. Thomas also wrote a separate dissent. The Washington Post has the opinions
, and you can get the pdf
from the Supreme Court's website.
The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in Rumsfeld
, a case
challenging the Solomon Amendment
, a US federal law that allows the government to cut federal funding to universities that refuse to allow military recruiting on campus. FAIR is a coalition of law schools challenging this law on the basis that the US military's policy of prohibiting open homosexuals
from serving violates the schools' anti-discrimination policies
(see section 6-3). Summing the issue up nicely, the dean of one law school said of the US military
, "If it were a private employer who discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation, race or gender, we wouldn't allow them here on campus." .rm C-SPAN coverage here
Grokster shuts down
after their Supreme Court defeat [pdf
] this summer, Grokster has chosen to settle its case with MGM et al., admit to wrongdoing, and stop distributing its software. Their website
now displays the message: "There are legal services for downloading music and movies.
This service is not one of them.".
Another victoy for Hollywood in the intellectual property war. Who's next?
Newsfilter: Samuel A. Alito Jr.
is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. His ideological likeness to United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has earned him the nickname "Scalito." According to CNN
, he is expected to be nominated to the Supreme Court later today. This site
provides more background and links to some of his important decisions. Here's one anecdote about him
. If you want, you can even rate him at Rate It All
Harriet Miers's Blog!!!
Silly parody web site in the tradition of the Jeff Gannon blog
(related: see Knot Jeff Gannon
) and the short-lived Osama blog
(not too many internet cafes in Baluchistan apparently), or light-hearted response to this really obvious bit of astroturfing
by FOBs (friends of Bush)
known to bend the truth a little to help out a pal in need
Bush says he may consider non-judges to replace Sandra Day O'Connor.
Is it time to panic? Is the terrbile prediction of a Justice Ann Coulter made in this
thread coming one step closer to being realized? Buckle up Either way, because Rehnquest has been hospitalized
O'Connor steps down.
Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has announced her retirement.
The Supreme Court's Big Day
The court chose not to review the controversy surrounding "reporter's privilege"
in withholding the names of confidential sources; meaning reporters may continue to be jailed or fined for refusing to name sources in court.
, the Court decided 6-3
that cable providers did not have to allow competitors to access their lines (the way DSL companies do). FCC opponents had been hopeful the Court would find the other way, opening new markets for competition and service options.
The Court ruled one of two
Ten Commandment displays are unconstitutional. The decalogue display on a courthouse wall in Kentucky was found 5-4
to be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion because it was serving a religious purpose. However, the Ten Commandments display on the grounds of Texas' state capitol were found to be constitutional.
The Court finally decided the MGM v Grokster case
. The Court found unanimously
that the file sharing service can be held liable
for the copyright infringement of their users.
Justice Scalia faces probing question
at NYU due to previous dissenting opinion
in Texas sodomy case.
to the controversy. via
Blogging it Live
from outside SCOTUS and MGM vs. Grokster
, it's NickD.
Apparently, thousands of Ten Commandments monuments around the country began their lives as promos for the 1956 movie "The Ten Commandments"
(Including the one in the case argued before the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month). "The stars of the movie, Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner and Martha Scott, attended many of the dedications."
Transcripts of the March 2nd arguments here
. This was also pointed out on the NPR radio comedy program "Wait, Wait - Don't Tell Me"
(click the "Listen" link next to "Opening Panel Round: The Supreme Court and Cecil B. DeMille"). Does/should this affect your views on the case? Is this a minor detail, or is it an under-reported fact in the U.S. media?
Seizure of land for the public good or unconstitutional cash grab?
Originally, the power of eminent domain
was used by government to condemn property for the public good, usually to build railroads or highways or bridges. This power has been expanded to redevelop dilapidated neighbourhoods
, and ultimately, "economic development"
(public good by way of jobs and taxes
). What will you do when Pfizer wants to build a research facility
*on* your backyard and your government helps them do it
? Hint: it's nothing new
, just wait for 2008
or 2012 (maybe)
The Supreme Court, in a 6-2 decision Monday, ruled that police do not violate the Fourth Amendment
when they use a drug-detecting dog to locate illegal drugs in the trunk of a car during a legal traffic stop. The decision
, and dissents from Ginsburg
This Highway Adopted By The Ku Klux Klan
The US Supreme Court has declined an appeal by the state of Missouri seeking to reverse an 8th Circuit opinion which allows the Ku Klux Klan to adopt a highway. Under the controlling ruling of the 8th Circuit, "desire to exclude controversial organizations in order to prevent 'road rage' or public backlash on the highways against the adopters' unpopular beliefs is simply not a legitimate governmental interest that would support the enactment of speech-abridging regulations."
Only in 1967 did Loving v. Virginia
overturn vigorously-enforced laws against interracial marriage in these 15 states--Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. Only in 1964 did the Civil Rights Act
overturn laws against equal access to voting, public accommodation, and public education. Only in 1963 did the Equal Pay Act
mandate that men and women be paid the same wage for the same work at the same job.
isn't a superhighway, leading us in straight lines toward utopia. We fall back
and we move forward
, but over the past fifty years, the United States has become considerably more inclusive and equality of access to opportunity has widened. Take a look at this article
from the Atlantic Monthly
in 1956--1956!--if you don't believe me.
The supreme court ruling that Guant?namo Bay prisoners can challenge their detention in the US
is something that renews hope that America is not going down the drain. Slowly everyone understands the madness this administration wanted to drag us all in.
The Supreme Court ruled today
that Michael Newdow did not have standing to sue on behalf of his daughter in challenging the recitation of the pledge in a public school classroom in California.
Justice Scalia's recusal in the Pledge case has prompted a serious debate on the judicial role. Robert Alt
has suggested that the Justice's recusal carries an important warning for the Senate in confirming new judges; if the Senate requires the nominees to answer questions about their opinions on potential cases, those nominees would have to recuse themselves if those cases later indeed came before them. Matthew Franck
, on the other hand, suggests "this argument ... permits the requirements of judicial ethics — and even a terribly broad reading of them — to trump the constitutional obligation of senators to inform themselves adequately about the kinds of judges they are being asked to confirm." [more inside]
Supreme Court wisely rules that you can't legislate morality
and that privacy between consenting adults is a-ok as the Texas sodomy law (that applies to homosexuals only
) is struck down. Ruling invalidates other remaining sodomy laws
on the books. Dancing in the streets ensues. And as usual, Scalia gets to add his wisecracks in the dissent. [via SCOTUSblog
A split decision from SCOTUS on Affirmative Action
-- in cases specifically involving the University of Michigan, the court rules that the law school's AA standard is legal while the undergraduate standard is not. The University president is spinning this as a full out victory because the court has now "given a roadmap" for how Affirmative Action programs can be designed for higher education nationwide. While polls show that Americans want diversity in education but are unsure about Affirmative Action
, it doesn't look like it's going away any time soon. And the fundamental question remains: when it comes to education, is being a racial minority four times more important than having held a position of national leadership? Twenty times more important than writing an outstanding admissions essay?
National Organization for Women v. Scheidler
Is being heard by SCOTUS today. The case may decide whether non-violent civil disobedience can be prosecuted under federal RICO
laws. Here's the ACLU's
amicus brief. And comments from NRO's Rod Dreher
Three Supreme Court Justices publicy oppose executing teenage criminals.
In a rare move, Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Stevens made a public statement in a delay request to state their opposition to executing someone who committed murder before the age of 18. With the Court already banning the execution of the mentally retarded this year, is this another sign of a soon-to-be next step in the abolishment of the death penalty? Or does the average American still believe that regardless of what time, when you do the crime you walk the line?
In an 8-1 ruling with Justice Stevens dissenting,
the U.S. Supreme Court has partially upheld the Child Online Protection Act
against objections that by relying on community standards it was unconstitutionally overbroad in violation of the First Amendment. COPA is the 1998 federal law making it illegal to make pornography available to children on the Internet. Passed in the wake of the Court's 1997 ruling striking down the Communications Decency Act but never enforced because of various court injunctions, COPA is still undergoing other lower-court challenges whose merits today's ruling does not address.
The Supremes defend free speech
in what is sure to be a contraversial decision about virtual child porn. I am all for this, but I am very impressed with the court's ability to make the decision in the face of easy moral platitudes like "Kiddie porn is bad, mmmKay?"
Author Says He Lied in Book on Anita Hill
"David Brock, who made his name trashing Anita Hill after the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, now says he lied -- and he's sorry."
No Constitutional Right to Wear Marilyn Manson Shirts to School
The Supreme Court has upheld the right of a public school to send a student home for wearing what they deemed to be an "offensive" Marilyn Manson t-shirt. The student, according to the court, had no First Amendment right to wear the shirt in an educational setting. And the debate over what rights kids have and do not have in the schoolhouse rages on. . .
Is the Consitution a "living" document?
Following "Scary" Scalia's arguments, the Dread Scott decision was a wise and appropriate one, right?
Supreme Court splits again
I leave it to others to comment on this. All I can offer: don't get a disability.
"They thought the election was over, the Republicans did. By the time it was over, our candidate had won the popular vote, and the only way they could win the election was to stop the voting in Florida". Give 'em hell Bill!
One last one before I run out to dinner (sorry for running off at the keyboard this afternoon, folks...)
The Supreme Court had to rule on this
? That scares me a *lot*.
Damn Supreme Court.
Just when you thought this was a free country, now they're telling strippers to keep their G-strings on.