* Free speech goes head to head with campaign finance laws at the Supreme Court today. [Washington Independent]
* The 9th Circuit ruled that John Ashcroft can be sued by a Muslim man who suffered under the former AG’s anti-terrorism strategies. [Washington Post]
* An Ohio judge makes his scarlet letter neon yellow. [New York Daily News]
* Judges are the ones regulating Wall Street. [Bloomberg]
* An ex-partner in Florida has sued the chairman of his former firm for wrongfully firing him after a confrontation over firm funds being used to support Hillary Clinton, among other misdeeds. [Courthouse News Service]
* In Texas classrooms, Obama is shunned, but Bibles may be a requirement. [Houston Chronicle]
* More retired judges do it for free. Now in North Carolina. [Raleigh News & Observer]
* Free speech goes head to head with campaign finance laws at the Supreme Court today. [Washington Independent]
- Adam Liptak, Clerkships, John Paul Stevens, New York Times, Old People, SCOTUS, Shameless Plugs, Supreme Court, Supreme Court Clerks
Just a quick follow-up to yesterday’s discussion of whether Justice John Paul Stevens’s failure to hire a full complement of law clerks for October Term 2010 might shed light upon his retirement plans. In today’s New York Times, Adam Liptak has an excellent article on the subject. It begins:
A Supreme Court clerkship is a glittering prize and the ultimate credential in American law, one coveted by the top graduates of the best law schools. Until recently, though, only connoisseurs of ambition and status followed the justices’ hiring process closely.
It turns out those hiring decisions may be a sort of early warning system for hints about the justices’ retirement plans. “We’ve started tracking Supreme Court hiring in real time,” said David Lat, the founder of Above the Law, a legal blog.
Thanks for the shout-out, Mr. Liptak! When it comes to being “connoisseurs of ambition and status,” we plead guilty.
Justice David H. Souter’s failure to hire clerks this spring accurately signaled his decision to step down. On Wednesday, the court confirmed that Justice John Paul Stevens, who is 89, has hired only one clerk, instead of the usual four, for the term starting in October 2010. That ignited speculation that Justice Stevens may be planning to step down next summer.
Some thoughts on what’s going on here, after the jump.
- Clerkships, John Paul Stevens, Old People, Orin Kerr, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, Supreme Court Clerks, Thomas Goldstein
A few weeks ago, we were emailing with one of our sources about an interesting fact we noticed, based on Above the Law’s real-time coverage of Supreme Court clerk hiring. The fact: thus far, Justice John Paul Stevens has hired just one law clerk for October Term 2010 (Sam Erman (Michigan 2007 / Garland)).
We didn’t write about it at the time, because OT 2010 is still a year away, and it seemed a bit speculative to make much of it so far in advance. But others noticed this fact too — and were faster on the trigger about it. Like the AP:
Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has hired fewer law clerks than usual, generating speculation that the leader of the court’s liberals will retire next year.
If Stevens does step down, he would give President Barack Obama his second high court opening in two years. Obama chose Justice Sonia Sotomayor for the court when Justice David Souter announced his retirement in May.
Souter’s failure to hire clerks was the first signal that he was contemplating leaving the court….
Indeed. We started the speculation about Justice Souter’s retirement back in April 2009, over at Underneath Their Robes, based in part on his lack of law clerk hiring (and based in part on a sighting of him with Senator Pat Leahy).
But back to Justice Stevens:
In response to a question from The Associated Press, Stevens confirmed through a court spokeswoman Tuesday that he has hired only one clerk for the term that begins in October 2010. He is among several justices who typically have hired all four clerks for the following year by now. Information about this advance hiring is not released by the court but is regularly published by some legal blogs.
Cough cough — like Above the Law?
Commentary from expert observers, plus a reader poll, after the jump.
We’ve previously reported on the hiring of Supreme Court law clerks for October Term 2009. Their names appear here (everyone but Justice Sotomayor’s clerks) and here (Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s clerks).
As we mentioned, we weren’t 100 percent certain on the Sotomayor clerks. Happily, as it turns out, our intelligence was correct. Thanks to everyone who shared information with us; we can’t accurately track Supreme Court clerk hiring without your help.
The Public Information Office of the Supreme Court has released the official list of October Term 2009 law clerks, and it matches up with what we’ve reported in these pages. For a copy of the official list, click here to download (as a Word document). (Note that it doesn’t include law school and prior clerkship information, which usually comes in a second, more detailed list.)
Not counting the law clerks’ middle initials, the official list doesn’t contain much information that hasn’t already appeared on ATL — with one exception. We now know that retired Justice David H. Souter’s clerk will be Thomas Pulham, formerly of the D.C. office of Jenner & Block (which has sent a number of its associates into SCOTUS clerkships).
Based on the official list, we’ve made some small tweaks to our list (e.g., changed some maiden names to married names). Check out the final list, a mash-up of the official list with the law school and prior clerkship information that we’ve gathered on our own, after the jump.
On Monday, the Supreme Court ordered a federal trial judge to take a closer look at the murder case against Troy Anthony Davis, a Georgia death row inmate. The SCOTUS directed the district judge to “receive testimony and make findings of fact as to whether evidence that could have been obtained at the time of trial clearly establishes [Davis'] innocence.”
Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, dissented. Justice Scalia questioned the viability of Davis’s claim of actual innocence, then went one step further. Even if Davis might be “actually” innocent, he’s SOL:
This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent.
This bold pronouncement caught the attention of Professor Alan Dershowitz, back at Justice Scalia’s alma mater, Harvard Law School. From “Scalia’s Catholic Betrayal,” over at The Daily Beast:
Let us be clear precisely what [Scalia's dissent] means. If a defendant were convicted, after a constitutionally unflawed trial, of murdering his wife, and then came to the Supreme Court with his very much alive wife at his side, and sought a new trial based on newly discovered evidence (namely that his wife was alive), these two justices would tell him, in effect: “Look, your wife may be alive as a matter of fact, but as a matter of constitutional law, she’s dead, and as for you, Mr. Innocent Defendant, you’re dead, too, since there is no constitutional right not to be executed merely because you’re innocent.”
It would be shocking enough for any justice of the Supreme Court to issue such a truly outrageous opinion, but it is particularly indefensible for Justices Scalia and Thomas, both of whom claim to be practicing Catholics, bound by the teaching of their church, to do moral justice. Justice Scalia has famously written, in the May 2002 issue of the conservative journal First Things, that if the Constitution compelled him to do something that was absolutely prohibited by mandatory Catholic rules, he would have no choice but to resign from the Supreme Court.
So should Justice Scalia resign? The Dersh isn’t saying that — yet.
But he does have a challenge for Nino.
The complete, official list of Supreme Court clerks for October Term 2009 — i.e., the clerks who recently arrived at One First Street — will be released by the Public Information Office shortly, perhaps by the end of this week. We’ve previously listed many of the Court’s OT 2009 law clerks in these pages.
But we didn’t name all of them. Our list didn’t include the hires of newly confirmed Justice Sonia Sotomayor. We understand that Justice Sotomayor has hired all of her clerks for OT 2009 — which makes sense, since she has a lot of work to tackle before the official start of the Term — but no clerks yet for OT 2010. Her OT 2009 clerks started working at the Court yesterday.
We think we know three out of four of them — but we’re not sure. We also have some info about Justice Clarence Thomas’s clerk hiring, but we need to fill in some blanks.
Can you help us?
UPDATE: We think we have all four Sotomayor clerks now. ¡Gracias!
When Justice Sonia Sotomayor needs to work off all the rice, beans and pork she’s consumed, she hits the gym.
Alas, it appears that Her Honor’s Equinox gym membership was canceled, after she apparently refused to show identification when trying to enter the premises. We’re with Justice Sotomayor on this: she’s a frickin’ federal judge, the closest thing this nation has to an aristocracy. Showing ID is for little people!
Sure, Barack Obama showed
his birth certificate identification when he visited Equinox health clubs during the campaign. But he’s Article II — ick, having to run for election, how déclassé — and Justice Sotomayor is Article III, fabulous and life-tenured.
Luckily, the SCOTUS has its own gym — replete with a basketball court, aka “the highest court in the land.” And Justice Sotomayor won’t have to worry about being recognized at One First Street (where even the law clerks are recognized on sight by the Supreme Court police).
Sotomayor v. Equinox Fitness: The Case of the Canceled Membership [New York magazine]
(Gavel bang: commenter.)
It’s official. Earlier today, everyone’s favorite Wise Latina was sworn in as the nation’s 111th Supreme Court justice.
Justice Sotomayor will be the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the SCOTUS. Justice Ginsburg once again has company for her trips to the ladies’ room at One First Street. Justice Scalia now has competition for being the most aggressive questioner on the high court bench.
Does anyone know what Justice Sotomayor has done — or is planning to do — on the law clerk front? If you know, please email us (subject line: “Sotomayor clerks”). ¡Gracias!
Sotomayor Sworn In as Supreme Court Justice [New York Times]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Sonia Sotomayor
The U.S. Senate is now voting on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor (2d Cir.) to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Senator Al Franken presiding. It’s interesting and weird to see him in this role. Are we watching an SNL skit?
The normally empty Senate chamber is full. The senators are sitting at attention, looking like dutiful students.
The clerk is calling the roll. She refers to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) as “Mrs. Boxer,” and she does the same for several other married female senators (e.g., “Mrs. Gillibrand,” “Mrs. Hutchison,” etc.). It’s kinda cool, in an old-school sort of way.
Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) doesn’t vote — he’s absent from the Senate, due to illness — but he has expressed his support for Judge Sotomayor.
Senator Franken asks if any senator who has not already voted wishes to vote, or if any senator who has voted wishes to change her vote. Going once, going twice….
FINAL VOTE TALLY: 68-31, in favor of the nomination. Nine Republicans joined 59 Democrats to vote in favor of confirmation.
CONGRATULATIONS, JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR!!!
P.S. Okay, she’s not technically a justice yet — but she will be soon, once Chief Justice Roberts administers the oath of office. Hopefully JGR will do it better this time.
Update: Clerquette has more discussion over at Underneath Their Robes.
I guess Justice Souter no longer has to play the role of humble civil servant, and can now start living the life of a former uber-powerful person. Yesterday, the New York Times reported that Souter is getting new digs:
When he retired from the Supreme Court in June, it was expected that Justice David H. Souter would return to his beloved family farmhouse in Weare, N.H., a rustic abode with peeling brown paint, rotting beams and plenty of the solitude he desired….
On July 30, he bought a 3,448-square-foot Cape Cod-style home in neighboring Hopkinton listed at $549,000. The single-floor home, for which he paid a reported $510,000, sits on 2.36 well-manicured acres.
The ABA Journal notes that Souter needed more space for his books.
At least he’s staying in New Hampshire. But his neighbors in Weare are acting like Souter is leaving the neighborhood to move to Havana or something. More details, plus photos, after the jump.