Diane Wood

It’s hard out here for an immigrant. Arizona has immigrants in the crosshairs, as we all know. Immigrants might also be unable to clerk for federal judges (or at least get paid for it).

And when they commit crimes and get sentenced, immigrants are sometimes subjected to snide remarks by judges. The Seventh Circuit recently vacated a sentence and remanded for resentencing by a different judge, after trial judge Rudolph Randa (E.D. Wis.) made some unfortunate comments in sentencing defendant Jose Figueroa. From the Seventh Circuit opinion, by the fabulous Judge Diane Wood:

During the hearing, the district court digressed to discuss Figueroa’s native Mexico, the immigration status of Figueroa and his sisters, and the conditions and laws in half a dozen other countries—not to mention unnecessary references to Hugo Chávez, Iranian terrorists, and Adolf Hitler’s dog.

Chávez, Iranian terrorists, and Hitler’s dog. Those are all § 3553(a) factors, right?

So how exactly did Judge Randa achieve the impressive feat of working all of these topics into a routine sentencing?

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Earlier today, on the Senate floor, debate took place on whether to confirm Solicitor General Elena Kagan as the nation’s 112th Supreme Court justice. The Kagan nomination is not very controversial, due to the nominee’s impeccable credentials and the Democrats’ 59 votes in the Senate.

In the legal blogosphere, a far more divisive debate is raging, over a subject just as important as confirming the fourth woman ever to the Supreme Court: Are peep-toe shoes appropriate professional footwear? Can female attorneys wear them to the office? What about to court?

The debate was ignited over at The Careerist, by Vivia Chen (no style slouch herself — not many legal journalists own floor-length mink coats). Chen recounted this anecdote:

Waiting in line in the ladies room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel recently, I heard this discussion: “In my day, I always wore pumps to court,” said in a woman in her fifties. “Can you believe this associate went to court with open-toe shoes?” Her companion shook her head, then asked: “How did she do?” The first woman replied, “Her work was good, but her shoes weren’t right.”

Chen then surveyed a number of lawyers, from around the country, and they could not reach a consensus on the appropriateness of peep-toe shoes. The debate continued over at the ABA Journal, where a post by Debra Cassens Weiss generated a flurry of comments.

Given that so many law firms are business casual nowadays, it is probably safe to wear peep-toe shoes to the office. The fashion guidelines issued by the New York office of Weil Gotshal, for example, officially bless “open toe or open heel shoes.” (Still unacceptable: “Athletic shoes, clogs, beach shoes, flip flops, beach shoes.”)

But what about wearing peep-toe shoes to court? On this subject, we decided to turn to the experts: namely, a panel of fabulous female federal judges….

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Tomorrow President Obama will officially announce his nomination of Elena Kagan, current Solicitor General and former Harvard Law School dean, to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court. The news might get leaked unofficially tonight, so stay tuned.

We have no reason to question this prediction by Politico — and several reasons support it. The biggest clue is that Judge Diane Wood (7th Cir.), viewed by many as Kagan’s closest competitor, was notified yesterday by the White House that she (Wood) will not be the nominee.

OVERALL EXPLANATORY UPDATE: Apologies for the many updates and corrections below. The short version of what happened is that I originally reported that Judge Wood was notified yesterday that she wouldn’t be the nominee. I got some pushback on that — because it was, in fact, wrong. I corrected the item. But then, about two hours after this post first went up, Judge Wood did get a call from President Obama, informing her that he had decided to go in another direction.

UPDATE (7:00 PM): Some supporters of Judge Wood are denying that she’s out of the running. But, to the extent that Judge Wood hasn’t confirmed her getting dinged to them, I suspect she’s just trying to be a team player, by doing her part not to steal Kagan’s thunder or spoil the White House “surprise.”

UPDATE (7:30 PM): To the Wood supporters who insist she’s still waiting for a call from the White House: if she is the nominee, shouldn’t she know by now? Over at SCOTUSblog, Tom Goldstein is reporting that “[t]he Administration plans to identify its nominee in ‘guidance’ at 7:20am tomorrow morning, with a formal announcement by the President at 11am.”

CORRECTION (7:45 PM): Okay. I’m now hearing, on VERY good authority, that Judge Wood was NOT notified yesterday. So she is still (technically) in contention. I continue to believe that Kagan will be the nominee — but I’d be happy to be wrong about this, since I previously predicted that Judge Wood would be nominated. (My colleague Elie Mystal, meanwhile, has been predicting Kagan all along.)

UPDATE (8:45 PM): I can now say — with absolute, 100 percent certainty, from the same VERY good authority — that Judge Wood was just informed that she’s not going to be the nominee. President Obama did not tell her who has been picked for the position.

UPDATE (10:15 PM): The nominee is going to be Kagan.

The past few days have brought additional clues that point in Kagan’s direction….

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Judge Wood was notified tonight that she’s not the nominee.

Now that President Obama has interviewed the four finalists for the U.S. Supreme Court seat he has to fill — Judge Merrick Garland (D.C. Cir.), Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Judge Sidney Thomas (9th Cir.), and Judge Diane Wood (7th Cir) — the nominee could be announced any day now. Who will it be?

We realize that the betting men (and women) favor Solicitor General Elena Kagan. Kagan is also the pick of Tom Goldstein, the veteran Supreme Court litigator and founder of SCOTUSblog, who correctly forecast the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor (a nomination that the White House sought his counsel on).

But we’re going to go out on a limb and make a crazy prediction: President Obama is going to nominate Judge Diane Wood, of the Seventh Circuit, to the Supreme Court. He’ll announce the nomination on Monday, May 10 — the Monday after Mother’s Day. (That’s significant, for reasons we’ll get to later.)

Right out of the starting gate, immediately after Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement, Solicitor General Elena Kagan emerged as the frontrunner for his seat. And Kagan is still widely regarded as the leading candidate.

But, in the past week and a half or so, we’ve felt a slight, almost imperceptible shift in the wind, in favor of Judge Wood….

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Ten reasons Obama might appoint Diane Wood.

For Article III groupies, the InterContinental Hotel in Chicago was the place to be last night. The annual meeting of the Seventh Circuit Bar Association and Judicial Conference of the Seventh Circuit attracted a bevy of judicial superstars, who mixed and mingled at the conference’s grand banquet.

The most notable luminary was Justice John Paul Stevens, the Circuit Justice for the Seventh Circuit (and a former judge of the Seventh Circuit himself). The 90-year-old Justice Stevens, who is stepping down from the Supreme Court at the end of this Term, was joined at the dinner by several of his possible successors.

Justice Stevens actually had the job of introducing one of them, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who delivered the keynote address. In the audience were several other short-listers, including Judges Diane Wood and Ann Claire Williams, of the Seventh Circuit, and Judge Ruben Castillo, of the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

So, what went down at the dinner?

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Who will replace Justice John Paul Stevens? While pundits, savants, and oracles across the SCOTUSphere pontificate and read Article III tea leaves, FantasySCOTUS.net conducted extensive and detailed polling to predict the next Justice. We have invited our nearly 5,000 members – who represent some of the closest and most ardent Court watchers – to weigh in on the vacancy, rank the candidates on the short list, and give their views on the potential nominees. We are still collecting data.

This is the third in a series of posts breaking down this data, as we attempt to add some certainty to the vast amounts of uncertainty emanating from the penumbras of the upcoming vacancy.

This week, we pit Elena Kagan, Diane Wood, and Merrick Garland in a head-to-head-to-head confirmation death match…

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Potential Supreme Court nominees?

For weeks, the media laundry machine has been circulating news of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’s impending retirement. Now that the buzzer has gone off on that, it’s time to switch to the next cycle: speculation as to who President Barack Obama will nominate to replace him.

President Obama has been dragging his feet in his appointment of federal judges. We are relieved to hear that he is going to pick up the pace for announcing his Supreme Court pick. ABC News reports that the White House is prepared — thanks to Stevens’s public pondering — and that the announcement will come “within weeks.” Which isn’t really very helpful at all. Two weeks? Four weeks? Twelve weeks?

BLT reports on Obama’s speech from the Rose Garden today:

“While we cannot replace Justice Stevens’ experience or wisdom, I will seek someone in the coming weeks with similar qualities — an independent mind, a record of excellence and integrity, a fierce dedication to the rule of law, and a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people,” Obama said. “It will also be someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.”

Please make it fast, Obama. We’re ready to move on to the confirmation hearing cycle!

Let’s speculate until then, though…

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SCOTUS speculation.jpgAs noted in yesterday’s Morning Docket, President Obama has reportedly narrowed his search for a Supreme Court justice to a shortlist of six. From CNN:

Among the finalists are federal appeals court judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane Wood, and Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak by the White House.

Women make up all but one of the top candidates currently being given serious scrutiny, the sources said.

Also on the list, a source said, was California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno. The 60-year-old Los Angeles, California, native was not among the early favorites mentioned by legal analysts and the media. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs previously hinted some of the names under consideration were under the political radar.

Who will get the nod? To be totally honest, it’s pretty impossible to say at this point. Once you get down to a short list of a half-dozen, the choice belongs to the president (as the White House seems to be emphasizing to interest groups). Anything can happen.
President Obama will meet personally with some of the finalists, and his final choice will no doubt be influenced by those meetings. A leading contender can kill his or her chances by coming across poorly in the interview (as former Judge J. Michael Luttig did when he met with President Bush, according to Jan Crawford Greenburg in Supreme Conflict).
But none of this will stop us — or anyone else — from speculating. Speculation is fun! And since we probably won’t have a nominee until after Memorial Day, for the reasons identified by Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic, we might as well pass the time with parlor games.
Additional discussion, plus a pair of polls, after the jump.

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SCOTUS speculation.jpgThe upcoming retirement of Justice David Souter has led to lots of speculation about the next Supreme. We held a poll here at ATL, including some of the potential nominees that have been mentioned most often by the legal press. Almost 10,000 ATL readers put Sonia Sotomayor, with 28% of the vote, and Elena Kagan, with 20% of the vote, at the top of their list (see full results after the jump).
Obama says he wants a Supreme with empathy. Given that, Clerquette at Underneath Their Robes asks whether the smart money is on solicitor general and ex-Harvard dean Elena Kagan:

The question of course, is which judicial fox will occupy the Souter seat. As you know, our/ATL’s leaderboard points to General Kagan and Judge Sotomayor as front-runners. But, while some Court-watchers (and POTUS fans) are unabashedly agog at the possibility of the “diversity double” that would be accomplished by Judge Sotomayor’s nomination, a few interesting rumblings to the contrary have emerged. Point I: a number of commenters, including Adam Liptak of the New York Times, have pointed out that the notion of promoting “diversity” amongst the Supremes requires both consideration of personal characteristics and credentials and a good, hard look at the presumptive nominees’ path to power. Given the homogeneity of the current bench, which consists entirely of former federal judges (who are, admittedly, irresistible!), might POTUS seize this opportunity to mix it up a little? He has, after all, identified Justice Earl Warren as his personal judicial dreamboat, citing Justice Warren’s political background and the pragmatism with which it infused his juristic decision-making.
But wait: there’s more! In an article so chock-full of Article III gossip that Clerquette read much of it while breathing into a paper bag (narrowly avoiding a dramatic swoon) esteemed law professor Jeffrey Rosen writes that Judge Sotomayor may not be quite ready for prime time. Although she gets high marks for sass and biographical appeal — not insignificant qualities — Rosen reports that some have raised doubts about her strength on the merits. For example, he writes, many of his sources have “expressed questions about her temperament, her judicial craftsmanship, and most of all, her ability to provide an intellectual counterweight to the conservative justices, as well as a clear liberal alternative.” Gasp! Juicier yet, Rosen quotes a former Second Circuit clerk who opined that Sotomayor was “‘not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench.’” The clerk also noted that Judge Sotomayor had what sound (to this blogress) like patent indicia of divadom: specifically, said the clerk, “She has an inflated opinion of herself, and is domineering during oral arguments, but her questions aren’t penetrating and don’t get to the heart of the issue.”

Wow, Professor Rosen, don’t hold back. Those are strong words, and are getting some strong reactions. Glenn Greenwald at Salon excoriated Rosen for the attack piece.
In our initial post, we proposed an unofficial “David Lat to SCOTUS” campaign. You all came up with some interesting suggestions as well. More speculation on Souter’s replacement, and some dark horse candidates, after the jump.

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George Ryan Illinois Governor George H Ryan Above the Law blog.jpgSince the tireless Howard Bashman is in transit, we’ll temporarily assume his role as super-timely provider of appellate litigation news.
This just in: A divided Seventh Circuit panel has affirmed the criminal convictions of former Illinois Governor George H. Ryan and his associate, Lawrence Warner. The majority opinion is by Judge Diane Wood (who is a judicial hottie); the dissent is by Judge Michael Kanne (who is reportedly not fat).
This is especially bad news for Winston & Strawn. As some of you may recall, the firm reportedly blew $20 million on defending Governor Ryan, on a pro bono basis.
United States v. Ryan [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit]

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