Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the four moderates on the court, dissented from Justice Scalia’s broader analysis and sought a much narrower holding.
- Media and Journalism, New York Times, Quote of the Day, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, Wal-Mart
- 9th Circuit, Antonin Scalia, Gender, Labor / Employment, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, Ted Frank, Ted Olson, Wal-Mart, Women's Issues
We just learned, via the SCOTUSblog liveblog of today’s proceedings at the Supreme Court, that Wal-Mart v. Dukes has been decided. Here is some background about the case, one of the most closely watched of this Term, and here is the opinion of the Court.
Justice Scalia wrote the opinion of the Court, which was joined in its entirety by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito. SCOTUS reversed the Ninth Circuit and held that class action certification should not have been granted in this case, brought on behalf of hundreds of thousands of female Wal-Mart employees who alleged a pattern and practice of pay and promotion discrimination by the giant retailer.
Justice Ginsburg filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, which was joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. What did RBG have to say?
I think that it’s probably wrong, in almost all situations, to use a dictionary in the courtroom. Dictionary definitions are written with a lot of things in mind, but rigorously circumscribing the exact meanings and connotations of terms is not usually one of them.
– Jesse Sheidlower, editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary, quoted in an interesting New York Times piece by Adam Liptak about how Supreme Court justices are consulting and quoting dictionaries more frequently in their opinions.
During her short lifetime, Anna Nicole Smith managed to sell sex, jeans, weight-loss pills and, with her reality show, a sense of superiority to millions of Americans who could take some solace in the fact that they were not that messed up. She was voluptuous, then she was just plain fat, then she was voluptuous again and, all the while, she slurred her words and giggled through a series of unfortunate events that were all surely her own doing, right? She asked for all of this, right? The deaths and bankruptcies, rises and falls. She had it coming and when her life became entangled in a series of lawsuits, well… that was the natural outgrowth of a life lived so stupidly.
And then she died. Because, of course she did. And the lawsuits refuse to die. Because, of course they do. As noted last fall on this website, the Supreme Court took up one last (?) appeal in the case involving Anna Nicole Smith and sex and money. Except, the Court employs euphemisms like jurisdiction and congressional intent and non-Article III bankruptcy judges, because heaven forfend or something.
As her case flops and wheezes its way to the finish line, now is the perfect time for a look back at Anna Nicole’s life….
- Adam Liptak, Alex Kozinski, Federal Judges, Legal Ethics, Money, Samuel Alito, SCOTUS, Stephen Breyer, Supreme Court
Are justices of the U.S. Supreme Court gods, or men? There’s evidence on both sides. Their brilliant legal minds and dazzling résumés weigh in favor of deity designation. Their ability to make mistakes suggests that they’re mere mortals.
Supreme Court justices: they’re just like us! They get into accidents — as Justice Stephen Breyer did over Memorial Day weekend, while riding his bicycle near his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Justice Breyer broke his right collarbone in the incident — ouch (and more evidence to support my dislike of cycling).
Physical accidents involving federal judges might not be shocking; brainiacs aren’t known for their grace and agility. But ethical oversights might be more surprising.
Let’s look at the latest controversy involving Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. — and whether the hubbub is justified….
- 9th Circuit, Antonin Scalia, Benchslaps, Diarmuid O'Scannlain, John Ashcroft, Quote of the Day, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, War on Terror
The [Ninth Circuit] seems to have cherry-picked the aspects of our opinions that gave colorable support to the proposition that the un-constitutionality of the action here was clearly established.
Qualified immunity gives government officials breathing room to make reasonable but mistaken judgments about open legal questions. When properly applied, it protects ‘all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law.’ [Former Attorney General John] Ashcroft deserves neither label, not least because eight Court of Appeals judges agreed with his judgment in a case of first impression.
– Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the Court in Ashcroft v. al-Kidd (via Josh Blackman). (The eight Court of Appeals judges are those who joined Judge O’Scannlain’s dissent from the denial of rehearing en banc.)
It should not be surprising that the two dissents have sharply different views on how to read the statute. That is the sort of thing that can happen when statutory analysis is so untethered from the text.
- Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Benchslaps, California, Prisons, Samuel Alito, SCOTUS, Stephen Reinhardt, Supreme Court
It’s late May, so we’re entering the home stretch of the Supreme Court Term. Over the next few weeks, the Court will be handing down opinions in the most contentious, closely divided cases.
One such opinion came down today: Brown v. Plata (formerly Schwarzenegger v. Plata). In this high-profile case, a three-judge district court issued an order that directed the State of California to reduce its prison population — e.g., by releasing prisoners (as many as 46,000, at the time of the order) — in order to address problems with overcrowding and poor health care for inmates.
When SCOTUS granted cert, I thought that it did so in order to summarily reverse. Federal judges running penal institutions, ordering tens of thousands of convicted criminals to be let out onto the streets? The district court’s order reeked of the kind of Ninth Circuit liberal activism that doesn’t sit well with the Roberts Court. (Note that one of the members of the three-judge panel was the notoriously left-wing Judge Stephen Reinhardt.)
Well, I was wrong. The Court just affirmed, 5-4, in an opinion by (who else?) Justice Anthony Kennedy.
There were two dissents, by Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito. Justice Scalia’s opinion in particular contains some stinging (but ultimately ineffectual) benchslaps….
You don’t go to a Georgia fan to get commentary on the University of Florida, because it’s not objective commentary. Unfortunately, much of the commentary about the court is from the standpoint of people who have vested interests in particular outcomes, particular policies or particular results. Do you think you are getting an honest assessment?
- Deaths, Federal Judges, Military / Military Law, Quote of the Day, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, War on Terror