SCOTUS

When asked about the decision in Bush v. Gore, Justice Antonin Scalia — one of the best legal minds in modern American history — tells questioners to “get over it.” That’s right, the Supreme Court decided the winner of a popular presidential election, and one of the architects of that decision wants people to not care about it anymore. Is he serious? I wish Scalia could just “get over” the fact that privacy is a right now, but nobody begrudges him the right to ask questions about it.

It’s the ten-year anniversary of the Bush v. Gore decision, and everybody is talking about it, in part because the Court does not talk about it. Writing in the New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin tells us that in the decade since the five “conservative” justices stopped Florida’s recount, the Supreme Court has cited Bush v. Gore exactly zero times. Think about that: it’s been ten years since the Supreme Court picked the president, and the Court is kind of hoping everybody forgets about it. Bush v. Gore is like a stripper the Court killed in Vegas when it was there for a bachelor’s party. “She’s got no friends or family, strippers die all the time in Vegas, let’s get back to the hotel and NEVER SPEAK OF THIS AGAIN.”

But this isn’t some drunk broad you can drive into the Atlantic Ocean and hope everybody covers for you. This is a presidential election! And whether or not they talk about it, the effect of Bush v. Gore is very evident today — and not just because of the five SCOTUS votes that were more important than everybody else’s….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Ten Years After Bush v. Gore, the Stench Lingers”

Federal government lawyers are having their pay frozen. But let’s face it: you don’t don’t go into government service for the money.

You might do it for the experience. You might do it for the lifestyle. And, depending on the position, you might do it for the prestige.

Someone once said to me, “You can’t eat prestige.” “Maybe not,” I replied. “But prestige certainly is delicious!”

For a young lawyer, one of the most prestigious government gigs around is a Bristow Fellowship. These four one-year fellowships in the Solicitor General’s Office are generally regarded as second only to Supreme Court clerkships in prestige (and many Bristow Fellows later go on to clerk at the Court). You can read more about the Bristow, including the job responsibilities and the application process, on the Department of Justice website.

Earlier this month, the four Bristows for 2011-2012 were notified of their good fortune. Who are they?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Congratulations to the 2011 Bristow Fellows”

If I’m applying the First Amendment, I have to apply it to a world where there’s an Internet, and there’s Facebook, and there are movies like … ‘The Social Network,’ which I couldn’t even understand.

– Justice Stephen Breyer, in remarks made yesterday at Vanderbilt Law School (gavel bang: ABA Journal).

Personally, I would like to see more Midwesterners or Westerners and not as many from the Ivy League schools. But that does not mean any one of them is not fully qualified. It’s a problem that there are only so many seats available….

– Justice John Paul Stevens, in an interview with the Houston Chronicle (gavel bang: ABA Journal).

I just wanted to get out there, let my talents shine, and show that I, too, can be a constitutional originalist and claim strict adherence to the intent of those who framed our nation’s founding document, thereby advancing a conservative agenda. Pretty sure I nailed it, too.

– “Supreme Court Understudy Fills In For Scalia,” The Onion.

Sam, you ought to thank Harriet Miers for making this possible.

– President George W. Bush to newly confirmed Justice Samuel Alito, as recounted in President Bush’s new memoir, Decision Points (via Jan Crawford).

Does the statute cover depictions of violence against Vulcans?

– Justice Sonia Sotomayor, asking whether video violence against “an image of a human being” could be extended to human-like figures, during oral arguments for Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association.

Some people thought Contra was too violent.

The Supreme Court is on record as being a grand protector of the people’s right to free speech — so long as by “speech” we mean money and by “people” we mean corporations. But when it comes to the right of artists (in this case, video game producers) to do their thing, the Court wants to take a closer look.

And so tomorrow (Tuesday) the Court will hear oral argument in the case of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association. If you’ve been too busy riding roughshod over zombie ranchers to follow along, the key issue is the constitutionality of a California law restricting the sale of violent video games to minors. The Ninth Circuit already threw the law out, and other Circuits have dispensed with similar state laws on free speech grounds. But SCOTUS apparently wants to take a look at the restrictions…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Hacking and Slashing of Free Speech: To Protect Children of Course”

I wasn’t able to catch Larry King’s interview with Clarence Thomas’s ex-girlfriend, Lillian McEwen. I had prior commitments (how ’bout them Cowboys). But after reading reports all morning, I can see why her memoirs are stuck in the “manuscript” stage. There doesn’t seem to be any “there” there.

Perhaps the most interesting thing we learned is that Lillian McEwen would rather date a raving, porn-obsessed alcoholic than an angry, black conservative. Don’t get me wrong, I feel precisely the same way. But if this is all the “dirt” she’s got on Thomas, then it’s difficult to see how this materially impacts our understanding of the man.

And that’s assuming that everything she said is true….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “After Her Larry King Interview, We See Why Lillian McEwen Can’t Sell Her Memoirs About Clarence Thomas”

It was probably T.M.I. But that’s the way it is.

Lillian McEwen, a lawyer and ex-girlfriend of Justice Clarence Thomas, talking about how she showed her memoir (in which Thomas features prominently) to her daughter.

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