John Paul Stevens

Supreme Court Above the Law Legal Gossip Blog.JPGA summary of this morning’s Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, from SCOTUSblog:

Ruling 5-4, the Supreme Court on Monday found that the federal government had the authority to regulate greenhouse gases that may contribute to global warming, and must examine anew the scientific evidence of a link between those gases contained in the exhausts of new cars and trucks and climate change. In the most important environmental ruling in years, the Court rebuffed the Environmental Protection Agency’s claim that regulating those gases was beyond its authority, and the agency’s claim that it need not take action even if it did have the power to do so. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority.

The benchslap came when the Court ordered the EPA to reevaluate its decision not to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. From the Associated Press:

The court had three questions before it.

– Do states have the right to sue the EPA to challenge its decision?

– Does the Clean Air Act give EPA the authority to regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases?

– Does EPA have the discretion not to regulate those emissions?

The court said yes to the first two questions. On the third, it ordered EPA to re-evaluate its contention it has the discretion not to regulate tailpipe emissions. The court said the agency has so far provided a “laundry list” of reasons that include foreign policy considerations.

The majority said the agency must tie its rationale more closely to the Clean Air Act.

“EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change,” Stevens said.

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson was also ordered to write “I will not make fun of Al Gore” three hundred times on a blackboard.
Justices: EPA Can Control Car Emissions [AP via Washington Post]
EPA must consider global warming again [SCOTUSblog]
Massachusetts v. EPA (opinion; PDF) [SCOTUSblog]

All About Eve 2 Linda Greenhouse Jan Crawford Greenburg Jan Greenburg Jan Greenberg Jan Crawford Greenberg Above the Law.JPG* We took Eve Harrington’s Jan Crawford Greenburg’s quip that Justice Stevens told her when he was planning to retire as a joke. But not everyone did. [Volokh Conspiracy; Althouse]
* A juicy rumor. But who on earth could it be? [Concurring Opinions]
(Btw, congrats to Concurring Opinions on its one millionth visitor.)
* Former fashion designer Ilene Moses is on trial for allegedly defrauding banks of $26 million. But her design of fur-trimmed capes may be the more serious offense. [Associated Press]
* Fred Fielding will be taking a pay cut as White House counsel. But that’s okay, ’cause he can afford it. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Drape an invisibility cloak over the Federal Register, and call it a day. [Wonkette]
* We recommend to you any blog post that contains the words “palpably fresh.” [Crescat Sententia]
* Here’s Blawg Review #90. [Minor Wisdom]
* We weren’t the only ones who had a blast at last week’s crazy law-blogger party! So did Miriam Cherry, whom we had the pleasure of meeting at the festivities. [PrawfsBlawg]

2007.jpgLast week was short, thanks to the New Year’s holiday; but it sure was busy. Here are some highlights from a very momentous week:
* No more jokes about Harriet Miers: the ill-fated ex-SCOTUS nominee has resigned as White House counsel. Speculation about her successor abounds.
* No more jokes about the Dewy Orifice: the ill-fated merger between Dewey Ballantine and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe has been called off.
* Turns out that Chief Justice Rehnquist was a painkiller junkie. Once, while suffering withdrawal symptoms, he tried to bust out of a hospital in his PJs.
* Chief Judge David Levi, of the Eastern District of California, will be the new Dean of Duke Law School.
* All About Jan? Just as the aging Margo Channing’s reign over Broadway was threatened by the comely Eve Harrington, the aging Linda Greenhouse’s reign over One First Street is being threatened by the comely Jan Crawford Greenburg.
* Who knew? Law professors and legal bloggers sure know how to party! Photos of drunken legal academics available here and here.
* Cravath partner John Beerbower has enjoyed some amazing apartments over the years. Cravath partnership + Wealthy wife = $20 million, Park Avenue pad.
* Who’s your favorite First Circuit judge? Cast your vote here.
* If you’re a right-winger hoping that Justice Stevens will step down soon, don’t hold your breath.
* Today’s D.C. Circuit: Despite the occasional catfight, it’s not as bitchy as it used to be. Sigh.
* Oppressed law clerks, your Devil Wears Prada is on its way. Coming soon to a bookstore near you: Chambermaid, by former Third Circuit clerk Saira Rao.

Justice John Paul Stevens Above the Law.jpgWell, not in so many words. But in his interview last night with Jan Crawford Greenburg of ABC News — his first television appearance network television interview ever — Justice John Paul Stevens seemed healthy, lucid, and far from death’s door.
(Our apologies to the ConfirmThem crew. We hate to be the bearers of bad news.)
We did catch the interview last night. Twice, actually — we watched the excerpt on World News Tonight, then the full version on Nightline. You can access a video clip of an abridged version by clicking here.
Our thoughts on the interview:
1. Justice Stevens gets style points for the turquoise paisley bowtie. Paisley is a fashion cliche here in D.C.; but JPS wears it in a “I don’t care what you think” sort of way, which is great.
2. Negative style points for the brown plastic eyeglasses. Justice Stevens, you can do better. We know the Chief is always bitching about how little you guys get paid. But your most recent financial disclosure forms reveal that you’re a millionaire. You can afford wire-framed glasses.
3. Throughout the interview, Justice Stevens is articulate and alert. Yes, his head is permanently stuck in a slight rightward tilt. But that’s par for the course for old people. (JPS is 86 years old, turning 87 on April 20 of this year.)
4. Jan Crawford Greenburg is still a hottie. The reddish brown hair — is that its natural color? — is simply faboo. (Click here, then scroll down, for our exclusive photos of her.)
5. Justice Stevens reminisces about his late friend, President Gerald R. Ford, who appointed him to the Supreme Court. JPS describes Ford as “a fine lawyer” and ” the kind of person I would really like to have as a friend, because you like him right away.”
6. Greenburg asks whether President Ford was surprised by how Justice Stevens turned out as a SCOTUS jurist. Ford was a Republican, and JPS has turned out to be one of the Court’s most liberal members.
Justice Stevens: Ford may have been surprised by “some of my decisions.” But “over the years, I gather he was not unhappy with the results on the whole.”
7. Greenburg questions JPS further about his ideology and jurisprudence. She notes that President Ford’s attorney general, Edward Levi, described Justice Stevens as “a moderative conservative.” She asks the justice: How do you see yourself today?
Justice Stevens says that he sees himself as a “moderate conservative.” He adds: “I don’t think I’ve really changed. I think there has been a lot of change on the Court.”
8. The coup de grâce: near the end of the interview, Justice Stevens says: “I see myself as a conservative, to tell you the truth.”
Okay, maybe the old man is losing it — just a little bit.
Update: Orin Kerr’s thoughts on point #8 appear here. Can Justice Stevens perhaps consider himself a “judicial conservative” (even if he’s not a political conservative)?
Justice John Paul Stevens: The Silent Justice [ABC News (video)]
Justice Appointed By Ford Remembers the Late President [ABC News]
Is Justice Stevens a Judicial Conservative? [Volokh Conspiracy]

(Yes, this is ridiculously late. But we hope, for the love of God, that you don’t rely upon us for real legal news. News aggregation is not our primary purpose, and there are many other sites that do it better and faster.)
* Now that President Ford has passed away, everyone must write the obligatory article about his long-lived SCOTUS appointment, Justice John Paul Stevens. [Chicago Tribune, ABC News, Los Angeles Times, WSJ.com; all via How Appealing]
* State bars tend to give government lawyers a wide berth. So when a bar brings ethics charges against a prosecutor, you know something stinks to high heaven. [Associated Press]
* Videotaping an execution is pretty grotesque. But then again, it’s probably no more disturbing than this video. [CBS News]
* You can accuse the Catholic Church of many things; but selective application of their teachings is probably not one of them. The Vatican opposes the death penalty even for Saddam Hussein. [Associated Press]
* Speaking of death penalty cases, the Supreme Court’s incredible shrinking docket may be getting even smaller. [SCOTUSblog]
* Biglaw + Racial Issues = Lively Blog Comment Threads. [Overlawyered; WSJ Law Blog]
* Tax lawyers at Cravath aren’t the only ones with a weakness for underage girls. [Associated Press]
* Oyez, oyez: Interested in an administrative gig that pays over $150K? The Second Circuit is seeking a new Clerk of Court. [2nd Circuit (PDF) via How Appealing]

* Happy Anniversary, Justice Stevens. [Associated Press via How Appealing]
* Our low low prices on handmade office furniture are cruel and unusual! [MSNBC]
* The Court lights one up for Big Tobacco. [Law.com]
* Milberg Weiss’s judgment day: January 2008. [New York Times]

cookies baked goods rat poison Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Above the Law.jpgEarlier this year, controversial blonde pundit Ann Coulter joked about putting rat poison in Justice John Paul Stevens’s creme brulee.
Did Coulter give someone an idea? Check out this story, from the Star-Telegram of Forth Worth:

When federal appellate Judge Danny Boggs said at a Friday legal conference at Las Colinas that physical assaults aimed at judges have come mainly from “the deranged,” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor underscored the safety concerns.

“Every member of the Supreme Court received a wonderful package of home-baked cookies, and I don’t know why, the staff decided to analyze them,” she recounted. “Each one contained enough poison to kill the entire membership of the court.”

Sounds pretty serious, right?
But we must call out Justice O’Connor for exaggerating the seriousness of the threat. It seems the ol’ cowgirl is playing fast and loose with the record. As reported by SCOTUS press corps diva Linda Greenhouse:

The danger posed by the packages was immediately apparent. Each contained a typewritten letter stating either, “I am going to kill you,” or, “We are going to kill you,” and adding, “This is poisoned.”

Supreme Court justices get accused of many things. But illiteracy is not usually among them.
Moreover, Justice O’Connor’s casual statement of “I don’t know why, the staff decided to analyze them” — implying the deadly treats came thisclose to reaching supreme judicial lips — is misleading. Again, per the Queen Bee:

All mail received at the Supreme Court is screened, and the tainted packages never reached the justices, said Kathleen Arberg, the court’s public information officer.

So it’s not that easy to poison a Supreme Court justice. Furthermore, even if the poisoned food somehow makes it past the initial screening, to reach a justice’s chambers, success is still not guaranteed. Why? In addition to their other duties, some Supreme Court clerks serve as food tasters for their bosses.
Finally, we fail to see how Justice O’Connor’s tale of the poisoned baked goods refutes Judge Boggs’s point that most threats against judges comes from “the deranged.” Clearly Barbara Joan March, who sent the poisoned packages to the Supreme Court — accompanied by notes that helpfully disclosed their toxic nature — is not a right-thinking person. At the very least, she’s not the most sane, nor the most intelligent, resident of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Sitting Ducks on the Bench [Star-Telegram (Fort Worth)]
Justice Recalls Treats Laced With Poison [New York Times]
Ann Coulter to Justice Stevens: Drop Dead — Here, Let Me Help [Wonkette]

Evan Caminker Evan H Caminker 5 Above the Law.JPG* It’s finally here: Ohio State vs. Michigan. And the respective law school deans are getting in on the wagering. Dean Nancy Hardin Rogers of Ohio State and Dean Evan Caminker of Michigan cleverly weave law with the age-old rivalry. Dean Rogers asks: “A burning question among the national media is whether the outcome in Columbus on Saturday will have res judicata effect between these two teams, or whether the loser will be able to appeal for a trial de novo at the National Championship game in January.” [WSJ Law Blog]
[Ed. note: Dean Caminker (pictured at right) is no stranger to the pages of Above the Law. ATL readers recently voted him the Hottest Law School Dean in America, an award that he accepted graciously.]
* Law students help uncover more possible violations at Gitmo. [MSNBC]
* Church and state are at it again. [Opinion Journal via How Appealing]
* John Dean chimes in on the re-nominations controversy. [FindLaw]
* Bobbleheads of Justices Kennedy and Stevens are up for bidding on eBay, with proceeds going to chairty. [SCOTUS Blog]

supreme court full frontal Above the Law.jpgWe meant to write about this yesterday: Ayers v. Belmontes, the death penalty case in which a closely divided Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit. The opinion was handed down on Monday. It was the first opinion of the Term, and it was an unusual first opinion.
The typical first opinion of the Term is some unanimous, per curiam opinion about some soporific statutory issue (often written by Justice Ginsburg). But Ayers v. Belmontes was a signed opinion (by Justice Kennedy), in a death penalty case, reflecting a 5-4 vote. Interesting.
A possible explanation, from the Queen Bee of the SCOTUS Press Corps, Linda Greenhouse:

No one at the court on Monday could remember a term that began with a 5-to-4 decision. But while this decision might, on the surface, suggest that the current court is on the way toward setting a record for internal division, that is not necessarily the case. A more likely explanation is that much of the majority opinion was in fact drafted last spring, before the court agreed to hear California’s appeal.

The entry on the court’s public docket shows that while the state’s appeal was pending the justices discussed it nine times at closed-door conferences. With cases typically being discussed only once or twice, if at all, nine is an unusually high number. It suggests that a group of justices was trying to win majority support for an opinion that would decide the case summarily, without argument or further briefing.

The failure of such an effort typically results in a compromise decision to accept the case for argument, with much of the opinion already having been drafted.

In other words: Ayers v. Belmontes could have been a standard-issue, summary reversal of the Ninth Circuit; but the votes weren’t there. So the benchslap-in-the-making was quickly converted into a majority opinion for a divided Court. (But props to Justice Stevens for cranking out his dissent with such speed.)
Also, the case features the coolest name ever for a jury member: “Juror Hailstone.”
Justices Uphold a Death Sentence Twice Overturned [New York Times]
Ayers v. Belmontes [Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School]

Shakira Above the Law Legal Tabloid Nude Pictures Naked Pictures Nude Pics Shakira Shakira Shakira.JPG* The Democrats are in the House — and Senate, too. Say hello to the new chairmen of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. (And goodbye to Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.)
* It was a big week for politics — and celebrity divorces. Parting ways: Britney Spears and Kevin Federline.
* Dewey Ballantine + Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe = Sexytime!!!
* Hit movie Borat + Two dumbass frat boys = Lexytime!!!
* “Shake-It-Like-Shakira” contest + Drunken Jersey girl = More Lexytime!!!
* Rumors of Justice Stevens’s retirement: Greatly exaggerated? Or for real this time around?
* Speaking of the SCOTUS, here’s a fun fact: “It is unlawful to… make a harangue or oration… in the Supreme Court Building.”
* For the record, onetime Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork “doesn’t go seducing women at a convent.”
* News flash: Your friends who went into investment banking make WAY WAY WAY more money than you. (Unless you’re a new Wachtell Lipton partner, in which case they make WAY more money than you.)

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