Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Federal Courts' Category

Federal Judge Slammed Over Immigration Injunction

Brownsville, Texas

Brownsville, Texas

A little more than a day after a federal judge’s ruling (see Gavel Grab) ordered a temporary halt to one of President Obama’s immigration plans, the judge has come under criticism from some detractors.

In the Washington Post, columnist Ruth Marcus lamented what Judge Andrew S. Hanen’s ruling “says about the depressing politicization of the federal judiciary; second, and related, what it suggests about the conservative face of judicial activism.”

A New York Times editorial, headlined “A Judge’s Assault on Immigration,” said Judge Hanen recently “invoked a biblical flood in describing illegal immigration into that community,” and “his earlier opinions were the reason Republican governors and attorneys general pushed to get their suit into his district.”

On Tuesday afternoon, protestors gathered in front of the Brownsville, Texas court building where Judge Hanen sits, according to The Brownsville Herald.  Read more

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Obama Immigration Plan Stalled by Federal Court Order

U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen of Texas has issued an injunction temporarily blocking President Barack Obama’s program that would shield millions of immigrants living in the United States illegally from deportation.

Twenty-six states with Republican-majority governments have challenged the merits of the program, the Los Angeles Times reported. Judge Hanen said his injunction was needed to uphold the status quo until a trial about those claims could be held.

Texas led the lawsuit, and its Republican governor, Greg Abbott said the court order “stops the president’s overreach in its tracks.” At the White House, meanwhile, a spokesman said the federal government will appeal.

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In Idaho, a Legislator Calls for Impeachment of U.S. Judges

Idaho_quarter,_reverse_side,_2007State Rep. Paul Shepherd of Idaho, displeased with federal judges who have struck down state bans on marriage for same-sex couples, has proposed an impeachment resolution. The Idaho House State Affairs Committee voted along party lines on Monday to introduce it.

The resolution proposed by Shepherd, a Republican, seeks the impeachment of federal judges who don’t follow the Constitution’s orginal intent, according to a MagicValley.com article.

“They’re (federal judges) ruling just based on their agenda,” Shepherd maintained, according to the Idaho News Service. Last fall, Idaho’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples was effectively overturned in the federal courts. Shepherd said that judges violate their oaths of office when they read things into the Constitution that the nation’s founders didn’t intend.

“Original intent is really all we have,” he said. “Agenda and interpretation is what we’re all unhappy with.”

Read more

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Alabama: U.S. Judge Orders Marriage Licenses for Same-Sex Couples

Judge Granade

Judge Granade

BULLETIN: In a ruling intended to help judges across Alabama, U.S. District Judge Granade on Thursday ordered a local probate judge to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the New York Times said. 

U.S. District Judge Callie V. S. Granade did not issue a ruling immediately on Thursday after hearing arguments in a jammed Mobile, Alabama courtroom seeking definitive answers about the legality of issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples in the state.

According to the New York Times, lawyers for four same-sex couples asked for a ruling that a probate judge named in the proceeding be required to issue challenged marriage licenses. A lawyer for the probate judge said his client wanted guidance. Probate judges in dozens, but not all, Alabama counties have declined to issue the licenses since Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore advised them on Sunday against doing so; on Monday, Judge Granade’s earlier order striking down Alabama’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples took effect.

The Los Angeles Times reported, “Judge weighs next step in Alabama marriage dispute.” There continued to be extensive controversy surrounding this week’s events in Alabama, with much of the media coverage focusing on Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

He wrote a piece for the Montgomery Advertiser headlined, “Justice Roy Moore: Federal judges are not infallible.” The Montgomery Read more

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‘Judicial Chaos’ From Conflict Over Marriage in Alabama?

20150210SAMESEX-hp-slide-H8TD-jumboConfusion in Alabama’s county courthouses was labeled “judicial chaos” by some national news media on Monday. “Most” probate judges in the state declined to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite a federal judge’s ruling that struck down a state ban on the marriages, the New York Times reported.

On Sunday, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore had directed state probate judges not to comply with the ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Callie V. S. Granade. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to extend a stay of Judge Granade’s decision, and in some counties, marriages for same-sex couples were allowed, but not in others.

“We’ve got Alabama’s chief justice issuing an order, and we’ve got an order out from a federal judge,” said Judge Greg Norris, president of the Alabama Probate Judges Association. “It’s just a very difficult situation.” Read more

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Marriage Cases Put on Hold by Eleventh Circuit Court

The Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered that appeals from Alabama and Florida, of lower-court decisions nullifying state bans on marriage for same-sex couples, be put on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling on the hotly debated topic, SCOTUSblog reported.

The statements of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore advising probate judges they are not bound by a federal court’s ruling (see Gavel Grab) continued to draw attention. Huffington Post had an article headlined, “Alabama Lawyers Face Off Against Chief Justice In Gay Marriage Fight.” Kyle Whitmire wrote a commentary at AL.com entitled, “It’s your move, Roy Moore: Don’t like same-sex marriage in Alabama? Just try to stop it.”

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Academic Study Looks at Politicization of Our Courts

Maya Sen of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Adam Bonica of Stanford, both political scientists, have written an academic study about politicization of the judiciary, entitled, “The Politics of Selecting the Bench from the Bar: The Legal Profession and Partisan Incentives to Politicize the Judiciary.”

In the New York Times, Adam Liptak has written an analysis drawing on the study, and it’s headlined, “Why Judges Tilt to the Right.He sums up by saying an explanation for judges today being more conservative than lawyers, who typically are more liberal than the general population, derives from politics affecting judicial selection processes.

Gavel Grab readers won’t be surprised by this kind of assertion, but may want to delve into the academic paper itself for in-depth analysis and  findings. Here, from the paper, is one of the better summaries in the authors’ language of their findings, drawing on data that include almost all attorneys in the nation and also the “Database on Ideology, Money in Politics, and Elections”: Read more

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State Abortion Rulings Could Lead to Supreme Court Action

Contradictory rulings by federal courts over abortion rights in states may mean the topic could end up in the Supreme Court.

Politico reports that legislators have enacted numerous new abortion laws and that has led to “growing inconsistency nationally on the central legal argument of whether a state has created an “undue burden” for a woman seeking an abortion.”

Read more

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In Courts, a Big Year Ahead for Policy Decisions Affecting Millions

Republican leaders and their allies are banking on efforts in the courts, not Congress, to turn back key executive actions of President Obama’s and to deflate his second-term agenda, according to the New York Times. A Times article depicts an extremely important role for our courts:

“In 2015, major policy decisions affecting millions of Americans will be debated and decided in courtrooms, not legislatures.”

Because many Republicans have in the past criticized what they called judicial activism, the court-based strategies summon up catcalls from some Democrats. “What they cannot win in the legislative body, they now seek and hope to achieve through judicial activism,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va. “That is such delicious irony, it makes one’s head spin.”

But conservative academics and Republican officials disagreed, the article says. “They argue that urging the courts to restrain the president’s authority is legally different from a liberal judge’s using rulings to invent new rights under the Constitution.” Read more

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Fight Over Marriage Shows Courts are Part of Democratic Process

For a New Yorker commentary about legal battles in the Deep South over state prohibitions on marriage for same-sex couples, writer Amy Davidson takes a moment to reflect not on the win-loss column, but the role of America’s courts.

In a Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals opinion that upheld such bans in four states, Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote, “Who decides?” Davidson elaborates, “He meant the courts or the states, acting through their legislatures or ballot initiatives, which he called, echoing old states-rights arguments, ‘less expedient, but usually reliable.’” Read more

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