Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'U.S. Supreme Court' Category

Chief Justice About High Court: ‘We’re Not Republicans or Democrats’

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. told a law audience in Nebraska that he’s concerned about a judicial confirmation process that has become increasingly partisan, and a perception that politics is in play when the court issues decisions.

“I’m worried about people having that perception, because it’s not an accurate one,” the Chief Justice said at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Law, according to the Associated Press. “It’s not how we do our work, and it’s important that we make that as clear as we can to the public.”

He does not want to see that “real partisan rancor (to) spill over” into the court, Justice Roberts said, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. “That’s not the way we do business. We’re not Republicans or Democrats.”

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Sotomayor: Room for Greater Diversity on Supreme Court

There is still room for greater diversity on the U.S. Supreme Court, after considering gender, race and ethnicity, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in Oklahoma City last week.

“We don’t have one criminal defense lawyer on our court,” she said, according to a Wall Street Journal Law Blog post. In addition, there are no justices on the bench from solo practices or having big law experience, she said.

“The president should be paying attention to that broader diversity question,” Justice Sotomayor remarked. Read more

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Commentary: Will High Court Rule on Judicial Ethics Canon?

Will the U.S. Supreme Court find in a challenge to a Florida judicial ethics rule a vehicle to “further open the pipeline of money” into state judicial elections? A legal analyst who’s no fan of the Roberts Court expresses that concern.

The Florida Bar has asked the Supreme Court to review a rule barring candidates for a judgeship from personally soliciting campaign contributions (see Gavel Grab). At RH Reality Check, an online publication devoted to sexual and reproductive health and justice issues, analyst Jessica Mason Pieklo voices concern. Read more

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High Support in Poll for TV Cameras in U.S. Supreme Court

washington-supreme-court-building-washington-d-c-dc169A new public opinion poll found that almost three out of four Americans (74 percent) favor letting TV cameras into the U.S. Supreme Court for live broadcasts, and 71 percent support live online audiocasts of high court proceedings.

Nonetheless, the justices have resisted the idea of cameras in the courtroom for a long time, reported a Washington Post blog. It also discussed an appellate judge’s efforts to teach the public about courtroom proceedings when oral arguments before a panel of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals were televised recently.

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Hundreds of Big Political Donors Giving More Since ‘McCutcheon’

The full impact of the Supreme Court’s campaign finance ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, issued in early April, is starting to be measured.

The ruling struck down aggregate limits on how much individuals may contribute to political candidates and party committees in an election cycle.

According to a Washington Post article, “Together, 310 donors gave a combined $11.6 million more by this summer than would have been allowed before the ruling. Their contributions favored Republican candidates and committees over Democratic ones by 2 to 1.” The article was headlined, “Wealthy political donors seize on new latitude to give to unlimited candidates.” Read more

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Will Supreme Court Take Up Controversial Marriage Issue?

US-JUSTICE-GAY -MARRIAGEWith five petitions before it involving the constitutionality of state bans on marriage for same-sex couples, the U.S. Supreme Court could offer some clarity on its thinking in upcoming months.

Veteran Supreme Court-watcher Lyle Denniston offers that assessment in the Constitution Daily blog. Denniston notes that there is no inevitability to the high court’s settling the constitutional issue that has become the topic of so many lower court rulings lately, but at the same time he examines the factors that could lead up to the high court’s deciding to review one or more of the appeals.

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U.S. High Court Divided Between ‘Red and Blue’ Justices?

To what extent does partisan politics pervade the U.S. Supreme Court? This familiar topic got plenty of debate at the close of the court’s most recent term, and it’s still coming, this time with a law scholar’s contention that “America now has red and blue justices on its highest court.”

Professor Garrett Epps of the University of Baltimore School of Law has an Atlantic essay entitled, “The Extreme Partisanship of John Roberts’s Supreme Court.” He dissects rulings of the 2013 term and concludes,  ”On the Roberts Court, for the first time, the party identity of the justices seems to be the single most important determinant of their votes.”

You can read about other analyses by clicking here for Gavel Grab and clicking here. 

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Scholar: ‘Bad Cops’ Get Legal Shield from Supreme Court

Although a police officer’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. has not arrived at the court system, a legal scholar suggests that recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings could make it hard to hold the policeman or his employer accountable if a civil rights violation is alleged.

“How the Supreme Court Protects Bad Cops” is the headline for a New York Times op-ed by Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California, at Irvine. Chemerinsky writes:

“In recent years, the court has made it very difficult, and often impossible, to hold police officers and the governments that employ them accountable for civil rights violations. This undermines the ability to deter illegal police behavior and leaves victims without compensation. When the police kill or injure innocent people, the victims rarely have recourse.”

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Ginsburg Warns of Corruption From Money in Judicial Races

ap_ruth_ginsburg_090205_mnSupreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has issued a stern warning about the impact of campaign spending on impartial courts.

In an interview with the National Law Journal, she criticized the court’s “biggest mistake” in the area of its campaign finance jurisprudence, and added, “It should be increasingly clear how [money] is corrupting our system, and it is spreading in states that elect their judges.”

In replies to other questions, she discussed some of the court’s rulings, “a real racial problem” in the United States and other matters. The article began, “The turmoil in Ferguson, Mo., and the controversial stop-and-frisk policy in New York City illustrate a ‘real racial problem’ in America, one that recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have done little to help, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg” told the publication.

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Greenhouse: Efforts to Influence Courts ‘By Any Means Necessary’

US Supreme CourtMillions of Americans stand to be affected by any final decision in the federal courts about the legality of the government subsidizing health insurance premiums for individuals.

In the wake of dueling federal court opinions on this issue (see Gavel Grab), Linda Greenhouse offers an intriguing analysis in the New York Times about the protracted efforts of federal Affordable Care Act foes to derail the law in the courts. She calls it “turning to the courts to achieve what politics won’t deliver” and suggests the latest efforts rely on an extremely fine point of law. Read more

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