SCOTUS CONSPICUOUSLY ABSENT FROM FIRST DEBATE: Although the presidential election will have an enormous impact on the future makeup of the Supreme Court, that topic was notably absent from the agenda of the first Trump-Clinton debate. The Huffington Post’s Cristian Farias pointed out the oversight in a piece headlined “One Issue That Could Reshape America For A Generation Was Snubbed At The Debate,” and quoted Nan Aron in her role as President of our sister organization, Alliance for Justice. “It’s disappointing that one of the most critical issues facing our democracy, the future of the Supreme Court, didn’t get any airtime in tonight’s debate,” Nan said. The Huffington Post piece went on to urge that the Court get coverage in the remaining presidential debates as well as the upcoming vice presidential debate.
Meanwhile, Noah Feldman in a piece for Bloomberg View offered analysis of why the SCOTUS issue failed to come up at the first debate, and why it has received less attention on the campaign trail than some might have expected. Prof. Feldman’s take: neither candidate believes he or she can gain an edge by highlighting the Court as a campaign issue. Donald Trump, Feldman writes, can’t promise to remake the Court as he would likely get only the chance to replace the late Justice Scalia with another conservative judge, thereby maintaining the status quo. Meanwhile, although a Hillary Clinton appointment to replace Scalia could shift the balance on the Court, Feldman opines that “it isn’t good politics for her to trumpet a liberal transformation of the court when she’s trying to win over the median voter.”
CLIMATE PROTECTION PLAN HANGS BY A THREAD IN FEDERAL COURT: The Hill reports that the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, a central feature of President Obama’s second-term climate agenda, is in the hands of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals after the Supreme Court put its implementation on hold earlier this year. The Clean Power Plan is often cited as a primary example of the Supreme Court’s, and federal courts’, influence in the environmental arena. According to The Hill, it’s unclear whether the plan will survive the current federal court scrutiny. Its implementation was halted in February by a Supreme Court ruling that sent it down to the lower court for review; the Court’s action was among the last joined by Justice Antonin Scalia before his death days later.