Harry Blackmun

It looks even better next to some of the other cases currently before us which Justice Blackmun did not select as the vehicle for his announcement that the death penalty is always unconstitutional — for example, the case of the 11-year old girl raped by four men and then killed by stuffing her panties down her throat. How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection compared with that!

– Justice Antonin Scalia in Callins v. Collins, 510 U.S. 1141 (1994). The quote looms large today as Justice Scalia’s smugly presented example of how the death penalty can’t possibly be unconstitutionally applied fell apart in epic fashion. DNA evidence exonerated the men convicted of the brutal rape and murder of Sabrina Buie. The prosecutor did not oppose release of the men because DNA evidence pointed to the real perpetrator, a criminal who was convicted of a similar crime soon after Sabrina’s murder. Of all the capital cases in America, many (though certainly nowhere near all) of which do involve criminals who actually committed the crime, Justice Scalia chose at random a case that ultimately confirmed Justice Blackmun’s argument. On the heels of his dissent in Windsor, it’s worth wondering if Justice Scalia is cursed to have his every sarcastic quip fly back in his face.

I leave it to others to decide whether Harry Blackmun was a poor constitutionalist. But based on what he achieved with Roe, he was surely a brilliant politician.

Francis Wilkinson, a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board, commenting on the politics of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in light of the recent gay marriage debate.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski

Supreme Court precedent supports the appearance of federal judges in works of filmed or staged entertainment. For example, back in 1997, Justice Harry Blackmun played Justice Joseph Story in Amistad (as you can see in Justice Blackmun’s IMDb profile). More recently, in 2009, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had cameos in a performance at the Washington National Opera.

We all know how much the Ninth Circuit loves to follow the Supreme Court. So should it be surprising that the Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit, will be appearing in a feature film this fall?

And no, it’s not a documentary about the legal system. It’s a fiction-based, feature film….

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Ed. note: This new column is about sports and the law. You can read the introductory installment here.

I was an altar boy for several years as a kid. The priest, who smelled of cigarettes, would whisper “book” when he wanted the book, and over time I became a pro at rocking the bells. Seriously good at shaking those bastards.

Let’s talk sports?

On Wednesday, Dr. Graham Spanier and his attorneys went on the offensive. Spanier, you may recall, is the former Penn State president who was fired in the midst of the Sandusky scandal last November. Joe Paterno died, two former colleagues await trial, and the 64-year-old Spanier simply got a pink slip. You would think that since he escaped the far harsher sentence of his compatriots, he would be grateful. Perhaps he would tend to a garden during this, his senescence, and dream about the days when a child rapist didn’t have free reign over the Penn State campus. If gardening isn’t his thing, maybe drinking is. I know it helps me to forget.

But alas, Spanier is in no mood to forget. On Wednesday, Spanier sought out every audiovisual recording device he could find in order to plead his case to the world. Y’see, everyone’s got it absolutely wrong about Graham Spanier.

Here, let him tell you….

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