May 23rd, 2013
Sometimes a piece of good advice can last through the ages, and at an event last week in western New York State, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. offered an oral advocacy tip from the late Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson: flattery will get you nowhere.
In a speech commemorating the 10th anniversary of the centering honoring the late justice, who was also the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, Roberts pointed out that Jackson loved oral advocacy – but often admonished lawyers not to try to butter up the members of the court.
“He noted that we justices think well enough of ourselves already,” Roberts said, according to the Buffalo News. “Now, I will have to leave it to others to decide whether that’s changed since Justice Jackson’s time.”
Roberts, like Jackson, hails from the western region of New York State.
May 21st, 2013
We can add another item to the growing list of Justice Antonin G. Scalia’s least favorite things: inexplicable acronyms.
In his opinion yesterday in Arlington v. FCC, Scalia was apparently peeved by the name of the wireless service provider trade group CTIA—The Wireless Association. The justice explains in a footnote:
“This is not a typographical error. CTIA—The Wireless Association was the name of the petitioner. CTIA is presumably an (unpronounceable) acronym, but even the organization’s website does not say what it stands for. That secret, known only to wireless-service-provider insiders, we will not disclose here.”
The organization later took to its Twitter account to politely point out Scalia’s apparent error (and his law clerks’ apparent lack of Google prowess): “CTIA isn’t an acronym. Our registered trademark name is CTIA-The Wireless Association,” the group tweeted, linking to a web page that explained that the letters once stood for the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. Now, the name is merely an “orphan acronym.”
The whole matter irked Temple Law Prof. David Post, who took to the Volokh Conspiracy to call Scalia’s footnote: “a really embarrassing bit of nonsense — smarmy and snarky and extraordinarily stupid.”
On the WSJ’s Law Blog, Jacob Gershman points out: “Technically, CTIA is an initialism, not an acronym.” So there you have it.
May 17th, 2013
This is the busy season at the U.S. Supreme Court: the frenzied weeks after the conclusion of oral arguments in April and before the close of the term at the end of June. So you can’t blame the justices for needing to take a little musical interlude every now and again.
Earlier this week, the justices took a break from drafting decisions to enjoy the court’s spring musicale, a private concert for the justices and their guests in the East Conference Room of the courthouse. The Wall Street Journal’s Jess Bravin has the details of the event, which included Broadway singer Barbara Cook performing John Lennon’s “Imagine” — which Bravin noted is “strikingly at odds with court precedents granting privileges to religious institutions, enshrining property rights and limiting the reach of international law.” Imagine all the people sharing all the world, indeed!
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, organizer of the spring concert, also took part in another musical event in Chicago. The justice was on hand for the celebration of the centennial anniversaries of DePaul University’s Driehaus College of Business, College of Law and School of Music, which featured performances that examined the role of law in operatic compositions.
Ginsburg noted that in general, lawyers and judges “fare rather badly in operatic works.”
May 16th, 2013
What is Angelina Jolie’s connection to the U.S. Supreme Court?
Earlier this week the actress revealed that she underwent a preventative double mastectomy after she tested positive for a gene that indicates an increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer. That gene is one of those at issue in the Supreme Court case Association of Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics Inc. A decision in that case, which considers if human genes are patentable, is expected late next month.
USA Today’s Richard Wolf writes that it’s unclear how much – if at all – news reports sway the decision of the justices since the members of the court meet privately to discuss and vote on pending cases. But it’s worth noting that justices generally vote on cases a few days after oral arguments, and the gene patent case was heard last month. Absent a late change of heart (and vote) by one of the justices, the case likely has already been decided, and the opinion and possible dissents and concurrences were already being drafted long before Jolie’s announcement.
May 14th, 2013
The U.S. Supreme Court is more diverse than ever. But the same can’t be said for the group of attorneys who argued before the justices this term.
According to a report by the AP’s Mark Sherman, only one black attorney argued before the U.S. Supreme Court this term – taking up only 11 minutes of the 75 hours of oral arguments that the justices heard. Only four Hispanic attorneys made their case before the court.
Also, women made up only 17 percent of the lawyers appearing before the Supreme Court this year.
“In an era when three women, a Hispanic and an African-American sit on the court and white men constitute a bare majority of the nine justices, the court is more diverse than the lawyers who argue before it,” Sherman wrote. More here.
May 9th, 2013
The most trusted judge in America does not sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. She presides over a television soundstage.
Television star Judge Judy ranked highest among judges in Reader’s Digest’s survey of the most trusted people in America, ranking 28th on the magazine’s top 100 List. She edged out the most trusted justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who came in 36th on the list.
The least trusted justice still made the top 100; Justice Clarence Thomas came in 88th in the poll.
HT: ABA Journal
May 7th, 2013
There’s been something a little different about Justice Antonin G. Scalia recently. The folks in the Supreme Court’s press gallery have noticed this term that the usually bespectacled justice was appearing at oral arguments sans glasses.
Now, Scalia’s new look has been captured for posterity. The justice sat for a new official photo, and for the first time in recent history he is neither wearing nor holding glasses. (Photo: The Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States).
May 6th, 2013
Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor — or “Sonia from the Bronx,” as she likes to be called — said the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act will have an impact on gay Americans, regardless of how the court comes down.
The will be “a turning point for those whose lives will be changed, for better or for worse,” Sotomayor said at an event Sunday in Cooper Union, a private college in Manhattan’s East Village, according to the Wall Street Journal. Decisions in those cases are expected just before the court wraps up its term at the end of June.
Sotomayor made it clear she wasn’t showing the court’s cards, though, adding: “just so you’re all clear, I’m not predicting anything.”
May 2nd, 2013
Supreme Court buffs who have long followed the drama and unlikely friendship between Justices Antonin G. Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg can take heart: the story is being put to music.
“There is now being written an opera called ‘Scalia-Ginsburg,’” Ginsburg said last week during an appearance at the spring meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law in Washington, according to a Federal News Service transcript from the event. (FNS is a sister company to Lawyers USA.)
The justices, who lie on opposite sides of the Court’s ideological spectrum, are close and have been known to travel, ring in the New Year, attend the opera together. Once the justices were even featured in a performance by the Washington National Opera. Soon, it’s their story that will be set to music.
“One of the principal arias is “Meet Giamano Nino,’” Ginsburg said.
April 29th, 2013
He may not quite be the Funniest Justice, but the argument can be made that Justice Stephen G. Breyer is the most accident-prone member o f the U.S. Supreme Court.
Breyer broke his shoulder Friday in a fall off of his bicycle near the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington – his second serious biking accident in the last two years and his third overall. He’s recovering from reverse shoulder replacement surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and is expected to be released early this week, according to the Supreme Court’s Public Information Office.
In 2011, Breyer broke his collarbone while bicycling near his home in Cambridge, Mass. Back in 1993, Breyer interviewed with then-President Bill Clinton for a Supreme Court post while still recovering from broken ribs and a punctured lung suffered when he was hit by a car while bicycling in the Bay State. Clinton nominated Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg instead, but Breyer got the nod from Clinton a year later.
Breyer has also suffered other unrelated misfortunes recently, including being robbed at machete-point in the Caribbean and having his Georgetown home burglarized in 2012.
Breyer is not the only justice to suffer accidental injuries. Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor suffered a broken ankle after taking a spill at an airport during her Senate confirmation process in 2009. And in 2011, DC Dicta spotted Sotomayor limping into the courtroom during oral arguments, propping her leg on a footrest behind the bench and occasionally wincing in pain. The court’s press office later confirmed to DC Dicta that the justice “was experiencing some knee/ligament discomfort,” although no cause was provided.
More recently, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fell at her home and suffered broken ribs last year. In 2009 Ginsburg suffered a bad reaction to medication and fell off her chair while aboard an airplane – a month after fainting in her chambers.