Sandra Day O’Connor
- Andrew Speaker, Morning Docket, Sandra Day O'Connor, SCOTUS, Sports, Supreme Court, Trials, Violence
- Abortion, Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts, Politics, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito, Sandra Day O'Connor, SCOTUS, Supreme Court
This just in from One First Street. The Associated Press reports:
The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure Wednesday, handing abortion opponents the long- awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench.
The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.
The opponents of the act “have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.
The decision pitted the court’s conservatives against its liberals, with President Bush’s two appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, siding with the majority.
This ruling lends support to those who predict — like Jan Crawford Greenburg, in Supreme Conflict — that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito will move the Court significantly to the right in the years ahead. Before Justice Alito replaced Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a decision like this one would have required the conservatives to secure TWO swing votes, AMK and SOC, instead of just one. That frequently doomed the conservatives to defeat in the big-ticket cases.
So Justice Alito, appointed to the Court by President Bush, probably made all the difference here. As Senatrix Barbara Boxer recently observed: “Elections have consequences.”
Update: For more detailed commentary, check out Lyle Denniston’s SCOTUSblog post, which quotes extensively from Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent. To read the opinion itself, click here (PDF).
Court Backs Ban on Abortion Procedure [Associated Press]
Court upholds federal abortion ban [SCOTUSblog]
Gonzales v. Carhart (PDF) [SCOTUSblog]
Senator Boxer: Elections Have Consequences [YouTube]
- Aerobics, John Roberts, Old People, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito, Sandra Day O'Connor, SCOTUS, Sports, Supreme Court, William Rehnquist
Newsweek has an interesting article about retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor. The gist of the piece is that even though Justice O’Connor is longer on the Court, she’s still extremely busy. Since her SCOTUS retirement, she has served on the Iraq Study Group, which published its report not too long ago; sat by designation on circuit courts (by our count, at least three — the Second, Eighth, and Ninth); worked on books; and delivered speeches, including vigorous defenses of “judicial independence.”
The most noteworthy material concerns the timing of Justice O’Connor’s departure from the Court:
O’Connor carefully weighed when to quit the bench. In the spring of 2005, with Chief Justice William Rehnquist publicly battling thyroid cancer, the two justices discussed timing. “We talked a little bit,” O’Connor recalls. “I was concerned about whether he had an intention to step down since his plans might have altered my own. It’s hard for the nation to grapple with two [retirements] at once,” she says. “He indicated he didn’t want to step down.” So she realized she had to go first.
And so she did, announcing her retirement on July 1, 2005. As it turned out, however, Chief Justice Rehnquist passed away about two months after SOC stepped down. So the nation did end up having to deal with two vacancies at the same time. (Then-Judge John Roberts was moved over to the Chief spot, after being nominated initially as an Associate Justice, and Judge Samuel Alito was subsequently appointed to replace Justice O’Connor.)
The article also reports unfortunate news concerning Justice O’Connor’s husband, John Jay O’Connor III:
After O’Connor was freed from her daily duties at the court—it took six months before Alito took her seat—John’s condition deteriorated. Last summer she reluctantly placed him in a care center near their home in Phoenix; she visits him often. “It’s such a miserable disease. It’s so sad. It’s so hard. I did the best I could,” she says. “He wants me there all the time.”
Justice O’Connor’s departure has left a void on the Court. And we’re not talking about making Justice Kennedy even more of an influential swing vote.
What we want to know is: Now that SOC is away from One First Street most of the time, who leads the morning aerobics classes at the Supreme Court gym — as Justice O’Connor used to do, on a daily basis before she retired? Although Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a cheerleader in her youth, she no longer seems like the aerobicizing type.
And don’t look to SOC’s replacement, Justice Samuel Alito. We adore Justice Alito as a jurist. But we don’t think we’re alone in not wanting to see him in spandex.
Justice: Bench Player [Newsweek via WSJ Law Blog]
Or actually, “I’m missing you already.” Supreme Court justices have feelings too, y’know.
The former cheerleader and current Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader “Kiki” Ginsburg, misses having a “wing-woman” when she visits the highest ladies’ room in the land. Per Joan Biskupic of USA Today:
It’s been a year since Sandra Day O’Connor retired from the Supreme Court after a quarter-century tenure and left Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the lone woman on the nine-member court. Although it’s unclear how O’Connor’s departure will affect the law, this much is certain: Ginsburg misses her friend, and worries about the message court visitors get when they see only one woman on the bench.
“The word I would use to describe my position on the bench is lonely,” Ginsburg, 73, said in an interview with USA TODAY.
“This is how it was for Sandra’s first 12 years,” she said, citing the time from O’Connor’s appointment in 1981 to Ginsburg’s arrival in 1993. “Neither of us ever thought this would happen again. I didn’t realize how much I would miss her until she was gone.”
Awww…. Isn’t that cute? Who knew that someone who spent 13+ years dealing with admin law could be so sentimental?
(We aren’t joking about the supreme judicial ladies room. As indicated here by Jan Crawford Greenburg, aka the Eve Harrington of One First Street, the justices’ robing room has a women’s bathroom — even though it didn’t back when Justice O’Connor first joined the Court.)
Ginsburg ‘Lonely’ Without O’Connor [USA Today]
Madame Justice [Legalities via How Appealing]
One of you recently commented: “Retire this feature until the spring, dude. No one gets married in December.”
We beg to differ — unless you consider one of the Elect to be a nobody. A surprisingly high number of lawyers got hitched on the weekend before New Year’s Day. We even had to make some cuts.
Here are the three couples from the December 30-31 weekend that we will review:
Random aside: The best tidbit from the December 31 wedding announcements appeared in the write-up for two non-lawyers, Darcy Wolcott and Thomas Proctor:
Mr. Proctor’s forebears, the Hood and Towne families, settled the towns of Topsfield and Ipswich, Mass., in the early 1600′s. One ancestor, Mary Towne Easty, was hanged as a witch in 1692 in Salem.
If you can claim an ancestor who was executed for being a witch, you get an automatic 10 for your “Family” score.
Scores and commentary for the newlywed lawyer couples, after the jump.
- Antonin Scalia, Benchslaps, Clarence Thomas, Intellectual Property, Patents, Rudeness, Sandra Day O'Connor, SCOTUS, Supreme Court
Who knew that jurisdiction in the patent context could cause judicial tempers to flare? In MedImmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., an 8-1 decision handed down earlier this week, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas — who voted together almost 90 percent of the time last Term — exchanged harsh words.
Justice Scalia wrote the opinion of the Court, holding that a patent licensee doesn’t have to terminate or breach its license agreement before suing to challenge the patent’s validity. Justice Thomas dissented, finding no standing to sue.
From a tipster:
Scalia’s MedImmune opinion disembowels Thomas’s dissenting arguments one by one. See footnote 6 (“This is demonstrably false.”). Or footnote 9 (“It obviously is not.”).
One of my kids takes Synagis (a very very expensive medication), which is why I read the decision. While patent law is not my practice area, Scalia’s scorn is very clear and understandable to even a patent law layperson.
Now, Justice Thomas doesn’t take all this lying down. He accuses Justice Scalia of “misread[ing] our precedent,” “inappropriately rel[ying]” upon various cases, and committing “serious error.”
But this match must be scored for Scalia. Some other goodies (all in the footnotes, of course, where judges get to be catty and not feel guilty about it):
Footnote 2: “The dissent contends that the question on which we granted certiorari does not reach the contract claim. We think otherwise.”
56: “[The dissent would be correct] only if the license required royalties on all products under the sun, and not just those that practice the patent. Of course it does not.”
In other words: “CT, get your head out of your ass!”
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor used to take criticism from Justice Scalia rather personally. But she should have realized that with Justice Scalia, it’s really not personal. To paraphrase what our mother told us in second grade, “Nino only picks on you ’cause he likes you.”
P.S. To be sure, we suspect Justice Scalia doesn’t think very highly of Justice O’Connor as a judicial thinker — in contrast to, say, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom he can respect even when they disagree.
MedImmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc. [FindLaw]
Court rules on right to bring patent case [SCOTUSblog]
- Aditya Bamzai, Anthony Kronman, Antonin Scalia, Clerkships, John Bash, Rachel Kovner, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito, Sandra Day O'Connor, SCOTUS, Stephen Breyer, Supreme Court, Supreme Court Clerks
We’re continuing to profile the current class of Supreme Court law clerks. We’ve written up the Alito clerks for October Term 2006 already, and we’re working on profiles of the Breyer clerks.
(We reiterate our prior request for tips about the SGB crew, especially Thiru Vignarajah. We probably have enough material about the other three.)
Looking ahead to the future, here’s what we know so far about the justices’ hiring of law clerks for October Term 2007. Most of it is taken from Wikipedia.
Caveat lector: Wikipedia, of course, can be edited by pretty much anyone. So please note that much of the information appearing below is UNCONFIRMED. We have added links to additional, confirmatory sources where available, so you can weigh for yourself the reliability of the information.
Justice John Paul Stevens
1. Todd Gluth (Boalt Hall 2005 / W. Fletcher)
2. Sara Klein (Cardozo 2005 / Barry (3d Cir.) / Lifland (D.N.J.))
3. Kate Shaw (Northwestern 2006 / Posner)
4. Abby Wright (U. Penn. 2006 / Boudin)
Justice Antonin Scalia
1. Aditya Bamzai (University of Chicago/Sutton/OLC)
2. John Bash (Harvard 2006 / Kavanaugh)
3. Bryan Killian (Harvard / Niemeyer)
4. Rachel Kovner (Stanford / Wilkinson)
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
1. Michael Chu (Harvard / D. Ginsburg)
2. Stephen Cowen (U. Chicago / D. Ginsburg)
2. Andrianna (“Annie”) Kastanek (Northwestern 2005 / Ripple)
3. C.J. Mahoney (Yale 2006 / Kozinski)
Justice Clarence Thomas
1. William S. Consovoy (George Mason 2001 / E. Jones)
2. Eric McArthur (Chicago 2005 / Luttig)
3. Carrie Severino (Harvard 2005 / Sentelle)
4. Heath Tarbert (U. Penn 2001 / D. Ginsburg)
5. Leila Thompson (NYU / Lambert (D.D.C.) / Sentelle)
Update: Upon information and belief, William Consovoy is now scheduled to clerk for Justice Thomas in October Term 2008, not October Term 2007. For more, see here.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
1. Brian Fletcher (Harvard 2006 / Garland)
2. Zack Trip (Columbia 2005 / Kearse)
Justice Stephen G. Breyer
1. Eric Feigin (Stanford 2005 / Wilkinson)
Justice Samuel Alito
1. David H. Moore (BYU 1996 / Alito)
2. Jessica Phillips (Northwestern 2006 / Flaum)
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (retired):
1. Heidi Bond (U. Michigan 2006 / Kozinski)
(Random observation: WOW. This is shaping up as the best Term ever for Northwestern Law School, with three of its graduates landing SCOTUS clerkships so far. And U. Penn is doing quite well, too.)
As we all know, Wikipedia is not infallible. So if you have corrections (or additions) to any of the OT 2007 law clerk information appearing above, please email us. Thanks.
Update: SCOTUS Clerk Hiring News: An Errata Sheet
List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States [Wikipedia]
- Aquagirl, David Souter, Fabulosity, Noah Feldman, Parties, Sandra Day O'Connor, Supreme Court Clerks, Tim Wu
Whatcha doin’ for New Year’s? Unless your plans include the words “Diddy” and “yacht,” they’re not as fabulous as this fête:
Some explanation is in order. This party is being brought to you by one of America’s brightest legal minds: celebrity law professor Tim Wu, of Columbia Law School. (We don’t know who this “Sue” character is.)
The invite list is equally spectacular. It includes these legal luminaries:
(3) Tali Farhadian, the hottie-cum-hottie-cum-hottie.
Memorably described as a “lush Persian beauty,” Farhadian belongs on a Milan runway, a top-five law school faculty, or both.
All of these celebs — like their host, Tim Wu (Breyer/OT 1999) — are members of the Elect. Professors Feldman and Roosevelt clerked for Justice Souter (in October Terms 1998 and 1999, respectively). Farhadian clerked for Justice O’Connor (in October Term 2004).
But Feldman, Roosevelt and Farhadian, in all of their blinding brightness, might be eclipsed if a single invitee makes an appearance at the festivities.
Yes, that’s right. Also on “The List”: AQUAGIRL!!!
Allow us to paraphrase JFK’s famous words about Thomas Jefferson:
“I think this will be the most extraordinary collection of young legal celebrity and fabulosity that has ever been gathered together at a party — with the possible exception of when Aquagirl swam alone.”
- Airplanes / Aviation, Environment / Environmental Law, Food, Gay Marriage, Media and Journalism, Morning Docket, O.J. Simpson, Politics, Sandra Day O'Connor, Supreme Court
* Let’s see. Romney wants the Massachusetts Supreme Court to force an anti-gay marriage amendment onto the ballot if the legislature fails to act on the issue before the session ends January 2. Wouldn’t that be, um, I dunno, activist? [Associated Press via How Appealing]
* It’s important to find something to occupy your time and stimulate your mind once you retire. It shouldn’t be anything like this, though. [CNN]
* Global warming: the new tobacco? [WSJ Law Blog]
* If he did it, you’re not gonna find out about it on these stations. [AP via Online Athens]
* Suit by stinky man kicked off flight fails to take off in Germany. [AP via Yahoo!]
- Ann Coulter, Crime, Food, John Paul Stevens, Lunacy, Rank Stupidity, Sandra Day O'Connor, SCOTUS, Supreme Court
Earlier 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]