SCOTUS

Our recent suggestion that Justice Clarence Thomas consider a presidential run in 2012 has caused some chatter in the legal and political blogosphere (as well as the ATL comments section, where the commenter “President Obama” took all comers). Despite this healthy buzz, CT has not yet indicated any plans to slap a campaign poster on his RV this summer.

We submitted inquiries about our proposal to Justice Thomas, through the Supreme Court’s Publication Information Office, and to Mrs. Thomas, through Liberty Central, her new conservative nonprofit. Neither had any comment. We hear through the grapevine, however, that the idea of “Thomas for President” has been proposed to the justice by clerks in years past (and not embraced by the justice; apparently His Honor is content to remain a justice, despite his conspicuous silence from the bench).

Law professors had interesting things to say about our idea of a Thomas presidential run. George Mason law professor Ilya Somin took us very seriously (perhaps a little too seriously). Northwestern law professor Steven Lubet pointed out that Charles Evan Hughes isn’t the only SCOTUS justice who has previously given up a seat at One First Street for a shot at the Oval Office. And although we suggested that Thomas shed his robes to make his run for the Republican presidential ticket, UCLA law professor Stephen Bainbridge noted that CT could keep them on…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “More on ‘Clarence Thomas in 2012′”

Before President Obama announced his nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, we parsed some statements from former President Bill Clinton that sounded an awful like an endorsement of Kagan. At the time of Clinton’s statements, Kagan was still trying to edge out several other candidates — e.g., Judges Merrick Garland, Sidney Thomas, and Diane Wood — for the SCOTUS slot. Clinton urged Obama to appoint someone who was (1) in her late 40s or early 50s and (2) not already a judge. Of the leading candidates at the time, only Kagan fit the bill.

Judges Garland, Thomas and Wood were all appointed to their positions by President Clinton, so you’d expect him to have warm feelings towards them. But perhaps he had the strongest relationship with Kagan, who worked closely with him in the White House (and sent him lovely, handwritten notes).

Over the weekend, Clinton gave an enthusiastic endorsement for his former White House staffer….

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A liveblog of a panel about Citizens United at the ACS National Convention, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Citizens United v. FEC: The Decision, Its Implications, and the Road Ahead”

Today the Supreme Court decided City of Ontario v. Quon, a very important privacy case regarding a California SWAT officer who argued that the text messages sent on his work pager were entitled to privacy. The case has gained fame for two reasons — because oral argument revealed that the Supreme Justices are not very tech savvy, and because journalists and Court watchers saw this case as a sign of whether we’re entitled to privacy in our communications and emails on work devices (relevant to everyone who uses a work-issued Blackberry for occasional personal email).

The SWAT officer, Sergeant Jeff Quon, is out of luck. The Court decided that the police department’s search of his steamy text messages was reasonable (and reversed the Ninth Circuit, which had held otherwise). Today’s SCOTUS ruling led to headlines like this one from Joan Biskupic at ABC News: High court: Texts on government gear not private.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the Court’s opinion [PDF] in the case, hoped not to see headlines like that….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “SCOTUS to SWAT Officer: No Prvcy 4 Ur Txts”

In his speaking tours around the country, Clarence Thomas has a lot to say — sometimes critical things to say, about his fellow justices’ approach to oral argument and the lack of alma mater diversity among the Court’s clerks, for example.

But when Thomas is back at One First Street, sitting on the bench, he gets quiet. Very quiet. He hasn’t spoken a word during oral argument in over four years. He’s said before that it’s because he doesn’t see the point in badgering the attorneys arguing before the High Court. But we think there may be another reason: he hates his job. He’s suggested it himself.

In the Washington Post, we set forth a proposal for him: step down. And seek the Republican presidential nomination for 2012.

A bit about our reasoning, and a reader poll, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Should Clarence Thomas Run for President in 2012?”

There have been many profiles of the latest Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, but this personal note to President Bill Clinton provides insight that a newspaper story can’t. It was among the documents released by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library today:

The tipster who pointed it out to us (among the 2000 pages it was buried in) noted that it reveals “the warmth and tact that she has supposedly mastered over her career.” (It may also explain why Bill Clinton seemed so supportive of Kagan as the nominee, back when Obama was mulling over his shortlist.)

Of course, Lady Kaga was not lucky enough to make it to the bench when Clinton nominated her to the D.C. Circuit, but things are looking far more promising this time around.

The confirmation hearings for Solicitor General Elena Kagan, nominated to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, are currently scheduled to start on Monday, June 28. We will, of course, offer extensive coverage, including some liveblogging.

But most observers expect little confirmation drama — which makes sense. Elena Kagan is an eminently qualified nominee who has over the years kept herself out of trouble, personal or political. She enjoys support from a number of notable conservatives, such as Miguel Estrada and former judge Michael McConnell (both of them possible SCOTUS nominees in a Republican administration).

Just today, Vanderbilt law professor Brian Fitzpatrick — a former law clerk to Justice Scalia and a former counsel to Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) — issued an enthusiastic endorsement (PDF) of Kagan, praising her as “a person of utmost integrity, extraordinary legal talent, and relentless generosity.” Such sentiments have been heard from many conservative corners.

So, with Lady Kaga’s confirmation more or less assured, let’s start thinking about what we can expect from a Justice Elena Kagan. Specifically, how will she handle petitions for certiorari, the requests filed by litigants who want the Court to hear their cases?

In other words: Will Justice Kagan plunge into the cert pool? And should she?

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The Tenth Justice Fantasy SCOTUS League.jpgThe Supreme Court is headed down the home stretch. Of the 86 cases argued during the October 2009 term, 59 have been decided and only 27 are remaining.

While we are still waiting for results the biggest cases of the term, including McDonald v. Chicago, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, and Doe v. Reed, the Supreme Court handed down several significant cases in May: American Needle v. NFL, Graham v. Florida, Carr v. United States, Berghuis v. Thompkins, United States v. Comstock, and Levin v. Commerce Energy.

In this post, we will revisit our predictions and compare them to the outcomes. We will use our standard measures to explain how confident we were of our decisions, and how accurate our forecasts were.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “FantasySCOTUS: Revisiting American Needle, Graham v. Florida, Comstock, and Berghuis”

If you can only name one Supreme Court Justice, let’s hope that it’s Anthony Kennedy. It’s his world now, we’re all just along for the ride.

Today’s big Supreme Court ruling was the case of Berghuis v. Thompkins. At issue was whether a suspect’s silence constituted a waiver of his right to remain silent.

Yes, you read that correctly. There was actually an open question as to whether remaining silent waives your right to do so. More importantly, it does! One must speak in order to be protected by a right guaranteed to you in the Constitution.

Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion for the 5-4 majority…

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Last week, inspired by the pending Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan, we embarked upon a fun little imaginative exercise:

What if Supreme Court nominees didn’t have to defend themselves to the American public? What if the U.S. Senate’s constitutional privilege of “advice and consent” was revoked? What would the Court look like if the nominees didn’t have to even pretend to be moderate?

It’s a thought experiment that we’re sure has been done countless times before. But we’ve never done it, so we’ll plunge ahead.

Here are the rules: (1) The nominee should be unconfirmable. (2) The nominees on the right should make Elie angry; the nominees on the left should make Lat uncomfortable. (3) Mealy-mouthed moderates need not apply.

President Elie Mystal kicked things off by nominating his four liberal justices. And they did make me uncomfortable — half of them failed the bar exam.

I was in charge of picking the five conservative justices. So, who are my nominees?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Unconfirmable Supreme Court (Part 2): The Conservatives”

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