Supreme Court

And what I think is important for you all, is that when you see people standing in defense of what’s right, that you make sure that your voice is not remembered as one of the silent. Because there’s gonna be a day when you’re gonna look around and you’re gonna look at your kids and your grandkids and they’re gonna ask you a question: What happened to the great country that was here when you grew up, and why isn’t it here now, and what did you do?

– Justice Clarence Thomas, in the powerful keynote address he delivered over the weekend at UVA Law, at the 30th annual student symposium of the Federalist Society (Politico via WSJ Law Blog).

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Justice Clarence Thomas

The justices are human — and the more we let them be human, the better job they will do. Let the unthinkable be said! If the medieval vestments are making people think the justices should be monks, then maybe, just maybe, we should to do away with those robes.

Noah Feldman — professor at Harvard Law School, one-half of celebrity couple Feldsuk, and author of a new book about the Supreme Court — in a very interesting New York Times op-ed piece, criticizing the view that the justices can (or should) be completely divorced from politics.

Well this should be fun. Florida federal judge Roger Vinson has struck down the heart of Obama’s health care reform plan, finding that the individual mandate part of the bill is unconstitutional and therefore the whole thing is unconstitutional.

As Ashby Jones points out on the WSJ Law Blog, that makes the score 2 – 2. Two federal judges have upheld the law; two others have struck it down.

You know what that means? It means that very soon America will be operating under the Anthony M. Kennedy health care system. Does Justice Kennedy think that I have a right to health care? Does he think that pre-existing conditions should be covered? Is he comfortable having an entire nation’s health care system held hostage by a few insurance giants?

Exciting questions! I can’t wait to see how a man who nobody elected will decide our medical futures….

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Here come the judges.

President Barack Obama just finished delivering his State of the Union address for 2011. Alas, it wasn’t as exciting as last year, which featured a confrontation between the president and the Supreme Court. This time around, six justices attended — Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan — but they were on their best behavior. There was no POTUS v. SCOTUS showdown.

Your Above the Law editors covered the speech via Twitter. See @ATLblog, @DavidLat, and @ElieNYC.

Here’s an open thread for discussion of the address. We’ll get the party started with a few legally-oriented highlights, after the jump.

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Justice Alito is going to the State of the Union this year? Not true, not true!

Tomorrow night, many of us will tune in to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address — hoping to catch more catfighting than on an episode of Jersey Shore.

Last year’s SOTU did not disappoint drama-seekers. As you may recall, an Article II vs. Article III smackdown took place: President Obama chided the Supreme Court for its Citizens United decision, with six members of the Court sitting a stone’s throw away from him, and Justice Samuel Alito responded by mouthing “not true” at the POTUS.

(Speaking of Citizens United, the decision celebrated its one-year anniversary last week, on January 21. And as Josh Blackman notes, the world has not come to an end, contrary to the dire predictions of distraught liberals. Of course, experts in this area — including some Obama-supporting liberals — told us that Citizens United wasn’t that big a deal.)

Thanks to last year’s juicy Obama v. Alito showdown, numerous commentators have wondered: Will Supreme Court justices attend the State of the Union this year? If so, which ones?

Let’s make some predictions, justice by justice….

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Who knew that working for a conservative think tank paid so well?

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Virginia Thomas, the politically active wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, earned over $680,000 over five years while working at the Heritage Foundation. That’s pretty nice scratch.

A possible problem: according to Common Cause, Clarence Thomas never reported the income in his federal financial disclosures…

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In 2010, music superstar Lady Gaga earned an estimated $64 million. Meanwhile, legal superstar Lady Kaga — aka Justice Elena Kagan, of the United States Supreme Court — earned considerably less.

For the part of 2010, the Divine Miss K served as Solicitor General, earning an annual salary of $165,300. After her confirmation as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, she got a raise, to $213,900 a year — a healthy income, but less than the base salary of a fifth-year associate in a law firm (or the total compensation in 2010, bonus included, of a fourth-year associate). Her income as a justice is also much less than her salary of $437,299 as Harvard Law School dean.

Still, even though Justice Kagan might not be filthy rich, she has done well for herself. At the time of her nomination to SCOTUS, she reported a net worth of around $1.8 million. Given this rosy financial picture, as well as her six-figure income and great job security — it’s rare for a federal judge to be impeached, Judge Porteous notwithstanding — it’s not surprising that Her Honor was recently spotted checking out some pretty pricey D.C. digs.

Where was she looking? And what seems to be her homebuying budget?

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This is why we shouldn’t let people under the age of 18 speak in public. Ever.

The new Miss America, Teresa Scanlan, is just 17 years old. Why we live in a society that regularly parades minors out in public to be ogled (whether for their beauty or dunking prowess or whatever) is a subject for another blog post.

As you know, beauty pageant winners are often asked about their life ambitions — as if staying “off the pole” wouldn’t be a major accomplishment in itself. Scanlan’s ambitions are particularly funny, more like the stuff you’d expect to hear from a 7-year-old girl instead of a young woman of 17.

Under normal circumstances, the public wouldn’t be a party to these particular ramblings. But since her parents decided to allow Scanlan to be thrust into the public spotlight, everybody gets to chuckle…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Miss America 2011 Wants a Law Degree, and Then an Appointment to SCOTUS, and Then Election to POTUS”

I think [New York pizza] is infinitely better than Washington pizza, and infinitely better than Chicago pizza. You know these deep-dish pizzas — it’s not pizza. It’s very good, but … call it tomato pie or something. … I’m a traditionalist, what can I tell you?

— Justice Antonin Scalia, in an interview with California Lawyer magazine (via Josh Blackman, who identifies additional highlights from the interview).

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