Gavel Grab

Archive for February, 2008

2/29/08: News from Minnesotans Wanting a Change in Judicial Elections; US Supreme Court and Important Cases; All Eyes on Alabama

State court seat most watched race – The Brewton Standard
The Brewton Standard pointing out that the Alabama Supreme court campaign will be the most watched because of how the 2006 campaign turned out. Justice at Stake is also paying close attention the Supreme Court Campaign this year also.

Judicial reform plan would change election of judges – Bemidji Pioneer
The fight goes on in Minnesota to get a Constitutional amendment placed in front of voters this fall to change the way Judges are elected.

Judge Servaas returns to Rockford home – The Grand Rapids Press
A Michigan judge loses his seat because he did not live in the district he practiced his judgeship.

Two Supreme Court cases will help define the boundaries between privacy and policing. – The LA Times
An editorial looking at two important cases that will be in front of the US Supreme court pertaining privacy and what is correct policing.

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2/28/08: The Most Interesting Blog Posts of Today… Now in Color :)

Soros sinks fangs into Michigan- Michigan Liberal
A comment about an Op-Ed article about Justice at Stake’s presence in Michigan.

Judges as Public Figures: A Special Podcast- Above the Law Blog
A look at a conference at the University of Chicago about Judges roles as public figures. A podcast is included.

Alito’s Recusal in the Exxon Mobil Case- The Blog of Legal Times
A post discussing the Supreme Court’s deadlocked decision on the Exxon punitive damages case, and Alito’s interesting recusal.

Both sides in high court race chided- The Capital Times
The Gableman and Butler campaigns have received a verbal slap from Wisconsin Judicial Campaign Integrity Committee after some TV ads were deemed controversial.

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2/28/08: The Constitutionality of Terrorism Trials; Public Financing in Wisconsin?; Michigan is Starting to Heat Up

Monroe County will appeal court’s recognition of same-sex marriage – Wellsville Daily Reporter
Monroe County New York may be the scene for the next same-sex marriage debate involving the courts after the local government’s appeal yesterday.

The Right to Counsel, in the Right Situations – The New York Times
Adam Liptak takes a look at the Constitutionality surrounding Zacarias Moussaoui’s trial of a few years ago.

House GOP to decide if taxes fund Wisc. SC elections – Legal Newsline
The debate rages on in the Wisconsin Legislature over using public funds for Supreme Court campaigns. Here is an article taking a look at the bill sitting in the Wisconsin legislature at the moment.

Rita Jacobs: Time to reform court corrupted by money – Lansing State Journal
An OP-Ed piece on the need for changes in the Michigan Supreme Court election system.

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2/27/08: Justice at Stake in West Virgina; Who Would Barack Obama Nominate for the Supreme Court?; and More…

Clean elections update in West Virginia- West Virginia Blue
The fight for Clean Elections in West Virginia are underway and being helped by Justice at Stake’s own, Eamonn Donovan.

Who Would Barack Obama Nominate to the Supreme Court?- The Volokoh Conspiracy
This blog post compiles a set of quotes by Sen. Barack Obama concerning who he would nominate to the Supreme Court if he were to be elected president of the United States.

Pay for campaigns with public money- Jackson City Patriot
An editorial discussing the need for Public Financing of Supreme Court Campaigns in Michigan.

Another amendment, another hearing, more of the same debate on the judicial selection process- Prime Buzz
Another day, another hearing about Judicial Selection in Missouri’s legislature. And just like before, not much will come out of it again.

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2/27/08 – More from Wisconsin; More from Michigan;Reprimand in Utah?; Efficient Courts in Massachusetts

Minimize the politics in selecting justices – Detroit Free Press
Cate McLure of the Detroit Free Press wants to see politics out of Supreme Court elections this fall in Michigan, and that includes the money that is raised and spent.

Top court race needs fairness – The Badger Herald
More Wisconsin coverage, this time discussing the need for fairness in Wisconsin’s high court.

Judges praise court reforms – The Boston Globe
Chief Justice Margaret Marshall of Massachusetts praises the reform the Massachusetts Judicial system which now make the courts run a lot more efficient.

Did Valentine approve Buttars’ letter? – Deseret Morning News
Utah state legislature is hot water over a letter he sent to a judge 2 years ago about a decision that did not go in his favor.

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Tennessee Poll Leaves Out Key Question To Get Desired Answer

Is the Federalist Society taking aim at Tennessee’s courts? A new poll from “the polling company TM” claims to show that voters in Tennessee are unhappy with their state courts and are ready to demand major changes to the “Tennessee Plan” (the state’s modified version of merit selection with retention elections).

For those who have been following the recent game plan of several of the group’s state chapters, the strategy looks familiar. It’s the same plan – a poll, a white paper from a friendly academic, fancy online videos, and public relations help from the high-priced folks at CRC (known best for pushing the “Swift Boats” story in the 2004 presidential race) – that Federalist Society chapters have deployed most recently in Wisconsin, Missouri, and Kansas. (In 2003, Society members squared off on whether partisan elections or appointments best served their goals.)

Close readers of the polling will note that the Tennessee version now leaves out one key question – do voters have confidence in their state Supreme Court? In certain of the Federalist Society’s previous polls, as in Missouri and Wisconsin, super majorities of voters (68 percent in both states) indicated they were just fine with how things were going and trusted their state Supreme Courts to make rulings on the law, not political beliefs.

Since such affirmations don’t square well with making the case for change, that barometer of public sentiment has been discretely dropped in favor of a series of questions designed to demonstrate that most regular folks don’t know how judicial selection works. This is not news, and certainly not a clarion call for reform. Even in a presidential election year, try getting the most engaged voter to correctly explain the Democratic Party’s “Superdelegate” process, or for that matter the electoral college system.

The push is now on to return Tennessee to the column of states with contestable elections for their Supreme Courts, if this poll is any indicator of the group’s Tennessee agenda. Not surprisingly, the poll does not broach even the mention of some of the ill effects of judicial races in the state’s three southern neighbors (Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia), such as the $13.4 million raised by Alabama’s high court candidates or the multi-million dollar television onslaughts by special interest groups.

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2/26/08: A Look at Texas Including an Analysis on Hair

Judges Running Scared?- Fired Up! Missouri
Missouri Judges are possibly being intimidated by groups in this election year according to this post from Missouri.

Parsing SCOTUS Judicial Activism- Letters in Bottles
An interesting look at the Judges on the Supreme Court and their Activism on the bench.

Candidate overview: Supreme Court primaries- Off the Kuff
Charles Kuff takes a look at the Supreme Court Primaries in Texas and looks at the issues in the election.

Judicial race gets hairy- Houston Politics
In a Houston Judicial race, facial hair has become a big topic in the race. Yes, I said and meant hair.

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2/26/08: Justice at Stake in Wisconsin; Canada Same-Sex Marriage vs.The U.S.;

Campaigns push finance reform – The Badger Herald
Coverage of the Judicial Campaign fight in Wisconsin, with our very own Bert Brandenburg.

Canadian same-sex marriage faces U.S. challenge – Time’s Colonist
An interesting case concerning whether the US should honor same-sex marriages from Canada is discussed here.

Judicial candidates keeping varied war chests – The Brownsville Herald
Lower court Judicial elections in Mississippi is bringing in a lot of contributions.

High court to hear local warrantless case – The Arizona Daily Star
SCOTUS will be look at a case from Arizona to determine the limits of police warrantless searches.

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Wisconsin Public Funding Gets Push

Justice at Stake teamed up today with the Committee for Economic Development and The Reform Institute at a news conference in Madison to push for judicial public funding in Wisconsin.  Last week, the state Senate passed the measure; the Assembly is expected to be a tougher nut to crack, because of stiffer ideological opposition to public funding (those opponents might want to look at our recent poll showing very conservative voters supporting reform).  The groups’ joint press release calling for action by the Assembly is here, and the Associated Press has this story.

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2/25/08: Swiftboats and the Supremes

Swiftboating Our Supreme Court- Big Money Blog
The Swiftboating PR firm in charge of the use of adverts used to put down former presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry’s involvement in Vietnam are now involved in the Wisconsin Supreme election.

Scalia’s Court- The Blog of Legal Times
A post discussing Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s 100% record this term.

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