Supreme Court

Now that President Obama has interviewed the four finalists for the U.S. Supreme Court seat he has to fill — Judge Merrick Garland (D.C. Cir.), Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Judge Sidney Thomas (9th Cir.), and Judge Diane Wood (7th Cir) — the nominee could be announced any day now. Who will it be?

We realize that the betting men (and women) favor Solicitor General Elena Kagan. Kagan is also the pick of Tom Goldstein, the veteran Supreme Court litigator and founder of SCOTUSblog, who correctly forecast the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor (a nomination that the White House sought his counsel on).

But we’re going to go out on a limb and make a crazy prediction: President Obama is going to nominate Judge Diane Wood, of the Seventh Circuit, to the Supreme Court. He’ll announce the nomination on Monday, May 10 — the Monday after Mother’s Day. (That’s significant, for reasons we’ll get to later.)

Right out of the starting gate, immediately after Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement, Solicitor General Elena Kagan emerged as the frontrunner for his seat. And Kagan is still widely regarded as the leading candidate.

But, in the past week and a half or so, we’ve felt a slight, almost imperceptible shift in the wind, in favor of Judge Wood….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “SCOTUS Speculation: Could It Be Wood?
Ten reasons Obama might appoint Diane Wood.

For Article III groupies, the InterContinental Hotel in Chicago was the place to be last night. The annual meeting of the Seventh Circuit Bar Association and Judicial Conference of the Seventh Circuit attracted a bevy of judicial superstars, who mixed and mingled at the conference’s grand banquet.

The most notable luminary was Justice John Paul Stevens, the Circuit Justice for the Seventh Circuit (and a former judge of the Seventh Circuit himself). The 90-year-old Justice Stevens, who is stepping down from the Supreme Court at the end of this Term, was joined at the dinner by several of his possible successors.

Justice Stevens actually had the job of introducing one of them, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who delivered the keynote address. In the audience were several other short-listers, including Judges Diane Wood and Ann Claire Williams, of the Seventh Circuit, and Judge Ruben Castillo, of the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

So, what went down at the dinner?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Judicial Sight-ations: Justice Stevens, and Several Potential Successors, in Chicago”

Is the clothing mega-retailer following the Supreme Court nomination process?

Check out this photo of a store window here in New York….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A SCOTUS Joke from The Gap?”

Who will replace Justice John Paul Stevens? While pundits, savants, and oracles across the SCOTUSphere pontificate and read Article III tea leaves, FantasySCOTUS.net conducted extensive and detailed polling to predict the next Justice. We have invited our nearly 5,000 members – who represent some of the closest and most ardent Court watchers – to weigh in on the vacancy, rank the candidates on the short list, and give their views on the potential nominees. We are still collecting data.

This is the third in a series of posts breaking down this data, as we attempt to add some certainty to the vast amounts of uncertainty emanating from the penumbras of the upcoming vacancy.

This week, we pit Elena Kagan, Diane Wood, and Merrick Garland in a head-to-head-to-head confirmation death match…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “FantasySCOTUS Predictions of the Next Justice: Team Kagan v. Team Wood v. Team Garland”

That’s the question posed by Linda Greenhouse, former Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times, in an extremely interesting post on the Opinionator blog. In attempting to address “why other countries [don't] suffer from the same toxic confirmation battles that we do,” she first notes that other nations don’t give their judges life tenure:

High-court judges [in other countries] typically serve for a single nonrenewable term of 9 to 12 years — a period during which Supreme Court justices in the United States are just getting warmed up. These shorter terms ensure frequent turnover and allay fears about a party in power being able to lock up the court for decades through the fortuity of a large number of vacancies; each vacancy naturally carries less weight.

But we’re guessing that Greenhouse, whose politics tend to fall on the left side of the aisle, actually likes having life-tenured judges who are completely unaccountable insulated from the political process. So she tosses out another idea….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Should Supreme Court Opinions Be Anonymous?”

Justice Clarence Thomas — who tends to hire clerks from a wide range of law schools, including some schools far outside the so-called “T14″ — has had to defend himself against (unfounded) allegations that his clerks are “TTT” (an epithet so ridiculous it always makes us laugh). At the same time, because he’s the justice tasked with going to Capitol Hill to beg for money to testify in support of the SCOTUS budget request, he also has to defend the Court against charges of elitism in law clerk hiring, leveled by grandstanding lawmakers.

Hiring law clerks from Ivy League law schools: damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

For this coming Term, October Term 2010, Justice Thomas has steered his chambers back in the direction of elitism. All of his clerks for OT 2010 hail from top schools.

So, who are they?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: Meet Justice Thomas’s Clerks”

Speaking of the Supreme Court, which Kash visited yesterday, the justices just struck down a 1999 law aimed at banning depictions of animal cruelty — especially so-called “crush videos,” in which women kill animals by stepping on them with fabulous footwear.

The vote was 8-1. The opinion was by Chief Justice Roberts; Justice Alito dissented. For more, see links below.

(Gavel bang: commenters.)

First Amendment left intact [SCOTUSblog]
Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Banning Animal Crush Videos, Cites First Amendment [ABA Journal]
High Court Shoots Down Animal-Cruelty Law [WSJ Law Blog]

Yesterday, I paid a visit to the Supreme Court to sit in on oral argument for City of Ontario v. Quon. The case is about a California SWAT officer who alleged that his privacy and constitutional rights were violated when his superiors reviewed the messages he sent out on his work-issued pager. A good number of them had more to do with scheduling sex romps with his girlfriend and estranged wife than housing raids.

The facts in the case make it complicated enough to warrant SCOTUS review. But what seemed especially complicated to The Nine were the technological issues.

Stepping into One First Street is like stepping back into the 1950s. No Blackberries or electronic devices allowed. No cameras (in spite of C-SPAN’s fervent wishes). The most technologically advanced items in the courtroom are the microphones. So it seemed appropriate then that many of the justices’ questions strayed away from reasonable expectations of privacy and proper searches, and got into how exactly texting works…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Text-ual Analysis at the Supreme Court”

Shortly after Justice John Paul Stevens announced his upcoming retirement from the Supreme Court, Solicitor General Elena Kagan emerged as a leading candidate to fill his seat. The phrase “Team Kagan” started popping up all over the place (as we noted in our Twitter feed). Numerous users of Twitter and Facebook, as well as many bloggers and observers of the Court, proudly proclaimed themselves members of “Team Kagan.”

Over the weekend, Team Kagan may have gained another prominent member: former President Bill Clinton. In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” Clinton said that he and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are simply too old for SCOTUS. “I’d like to see [President Obama] put someone in there, late 40s, early 50s, on the court and someone with a lot of energy for the job,” Clinton said.

Hmm…. Of the three leading candidates for the Court — Elena Kagan, Judge Diane Wood (7th Cir.), and Judge Merrick Garland (D.C. Cir.) — only one, Kagan, fits the “late forties / early fifties” demographic. Kagan is 49, turning 50 later this month (on April 28). Wood is 59 — although she’s in great health, and looks like a million bucks. Garland is 57.

Then ex-president Clinton took another step towards openly endorsing Kagan. He urged Obama to consider someone from outside the judiciary. Again, of the three leading candidates, Kagan is the only non-judge. (Judges Wood and Garland were appointed to their judicial posts — by President Clinton, as a matter of fact — in 1995 and 1997, respectively.)

Going into this weekend, Solicitor General Kagan was already viewed as the frontrunner for JPS’s seat. We’ve said so here at Above the Law (here and here), and she’s also the nominee predicted by our readers (and by Fantasy SCOTUS players, too). Tom Goldstein, over at SCOTUSblog, has flat-out declared that “[o]n October 4, 2010, Elena Kagan will ask her first question as a Supreme Court justice.”

The apparent support of a former president can only increase Kagan’s lead. But what about the issue of her (real or perceived) sexual orientation?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Did Bill Clinton Just Join Team Kagan?
And what team does Elena Kagan play for?

Who will replace Justice John Paul Stevens? While pundits, savants, and oracles across the SCOTUSphere pontificate and read Article III tea leaves, FantasySCOTUS.net conducted extensive and detailed polling to predict the next Justice. We have invited our nearly 5,000 members–who represent some of the closest and most ardent Court watchers–to weigh in on the vacancy, rank the candidates on the short list, and give their views on the potential nominees.

(We are still collecting data. Sign up for free at www.fantasyscotus.net and voice your opinion.)

This is the first in a series of posts breaking down his data, as we attempt to add some certainty to the vast amounts of uncertainty emanating from the penumbras of the upcoming vacancy…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Fantasy SCOTUS: Predictions for Justice Stevens’s Replacement”

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