Quantcast
Home / 2009 / March (page 2)

Monthly Archives: March 2009

Specter checks out on card check

Labor organizations and other supporters of the controversial “card check” legislation were dealt a blow yesterday when a key lawmaker announced he no longer supports the measure.

specterSen. Arlen Specter, who was an original sponsor of legislation that would allow employees to unionize using cards to show majority support for a union rather than through an election, said yesterday he would vote against cloture on the measure, giving GOP lawmakers sufficient votes to filibuster on the legislation, even if Democrat Al Franken wins the Minnesota Senate race.

“The problems of the recession make this a particularly bad time to enact Employees Free Choice legislation. Employers understandably complain that adding a burden would result in further job losses,” Specter said on the Senate floor yesterday. “If efforts are unsuccessful to give Labor sufficient bargaining power through amendments to the [National Labor Relations Act], then I would be willing to reconsider Employees’ Free Choice legislation when the economy returns to normalcy.”

Specters decision is based in part of political concerns. Facing increased pressure from both union groups and business organization, Specter would face a tough GOP primary season in his 2010 reelection bid.

Today at the Supreme Court: Hillary and habeas

ussc1Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a man convicted of first degree murder failed to establish a habeas claim of ineffective assistance of counsel based on his attorney’s advice to abandon an insanity plea. The opinion in Knowles v. Mirzayance can be found here on the Court’s website.

hillaryAlso today the Court heard oral arguments in a case testing whether a Hillary Clinton documentary – a created to air during her presidential primary bid last year – was subject to McCain-Feingold campaign finance disclosure rules in the case Citizens United v. FEC. More on that case here.

Frank: Scalia is a ‘homophobe’

barneyfrankRep. Barney Frank, the outspoken Massachusetts lawmaker who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, called U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a “homophobe” during a recent interview about gay rights issues.

Frank, who is gay, was interviewed by the news website 365gay.com. In the video interview, available on the website, Frank was asked about of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriages and gives states the right not to recognize gay marriages even if legal in another state. Frank said the only way to end the law would be through a constitutional challenge before the nation’s highest court.

scalia1“I do think that [the] argument that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to pick and choose as to which marriages it will accept is a good one,” Frank said. “At some point it’s got to go to the United States Supreme Court.

“I wouldn’t want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now,” Frank added, “because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has got too many votes on this current Court.”

According to he Associated Press, Scalia declined to comment to Frank’s remark Monday.

Frank: Scalia is a ‘homophobe’

barneyfrankRep. Barney Frank, the outspoken Massachusetts lawmaker who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, called U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a “homophobe” during a recent interview about gay rights issues.

Frank, who is gay, was interviewed by the news website 365gay.com. In the video interview, available on the website, Frank was asked about of the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that prevents the federal government from recognizing gay marriages and gives states the right not to recognize gay marriages even if legal in another state. Frank said the only way to end the law would be through a constitutional challenge before the nation’s highest court.

scalia1“I do think that [the] argument that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to pick and choose as to which marriages it will accept is a good one,” Frank said. “At some point it’s got to go to the United States Supreme Court.

“I wouldn’t want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now,” Frank added, “because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has got too many votes on this current Court.”

According to he Associated Press, Scalia declined to comment to Frank’s remark Monday.

Monday status conference: Enron (and maybe Kagan) at the Supremes

supremesToday the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are back in the office for what promises to be an eventful day. The justices will hear oral arguments in the case of Yeager v. U.S., which considers whether collateral estoppel prevents a former Enron official who was acquitted on several charges to be retried on other charges that resulted in a hung jury.

Also today, look out for a possible special guest star: new Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who was sworn in by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. Friday, may be formally introduced to the Court.

And the Court could issue some orders and/or opinions today as well. We’ll bring you updates on newsworthy developments from the Court, so check back.

Today Obama administration officials officially unveil a plan aimed at shoring up the nation’s banking system with public-private parnerships. Oh, and if you wanted to know, so far President Barack Obama is 14 for 16 in his NCAA tourney bracket picks.

Meanwhile,

Sen. X, ?-Minn. We almost forgot about that still-vacant Senate seat for Minnesota! Now the race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman is in the hands of a three-judge panel. A decision is expected by 2011. (Oh, we kid!) (WaPo).

Bills, bills, bills: A bad economy means debt collectors are busy. They are also busy fighting off lawsuits from consumers claiming violations of the Fair Debt collection Practices Act. (Legal Blog Watch).

New COBRA rule has bite: If you or your clients are dealing with layoffs, you should take a look at the model notices the Labor Department has issued in connection with the new, expansive COBRA rules. (Lawyers USA)

Supremes reject brief in Massey case

scawvToday the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a supplemental brief lawyers for A.T. Massey Coal Company attempted to file in the case Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal Co. In that case the Court is set to decide whether the failure of a judge to recuse himself from a case involving a campaign contributor violates the Due Process Clause.

In the brief, lawyers from the company sought to bring to the Court’s attention a press release from the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, which showed data indicating that the judge in question, Justice Brent Benjamin, ruled against Massey in almost 82 percent of the matters brought before the court.

“According to information which was in the file or which was referenced in local news reports, all votes by Chief Justice Benjamin represented votes against the financial interests of Massey Energy of approximately $317 million,” the press release reads.

The Court did not indicate why the brief was rejected.

[HT: SCOTUSBlog]

Friday morning docket: Taxes and Leno

Today the justices of the Supreme Court return to the office for a private conference. The Court could announce grants of certiorari this afternoon, so check here for any newsworthy developments.

capitolfrontMeanwhile, Congress is moving full speed ahead with a plan to tax the shocking taxpayer-funded bonuses some AIG executive received. The House voted yesterday to tax bonuses given out by companies receiving $5 billion or more at a rate of 90 percent.

And President Barack Obama is in California, in an effort to push his economic plan and have a few laughs. Click here to see his appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night.

Meanwhile,

You can’t make this stuff up: Guess what else AIG is doing with taxpayer dough? Suing the U.S. government for $306 million the company says it’s owed in tax refunds. (NYT)

Kagan confirmed: The Senate confirmed Obama’s solicitor general pick, Elena Kagan, yesterday. (Boston Globe)

The tax man cometh: Afraid of being audited? The process doesn’t have to be so bad if you have the right info going in. (Lawyers USA)

Keeping judges ethical: The policymaking body for the federal judiciary adopted the first substantial revisions to the Code of Conduct covering federal judges and members of the federal courts’ bar since 1992. (Lawyers USA)

Bad inspectors: Private inspectors hired to monitor the safety of U.S. food products aren’t really doing a bang-up job, Congress said. (AP)

Please, please help me: Embattled Illinois Sen. Roland Burris, facing $400,000 in legal fees as he fights allegations of dealmaking with disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is looking to set up a legal defense fund. (ABA Journal, Chicago Tribune)

Senate to vote on SG pick Kagan today

elenakaganToday the Senate is set for a confirmation vote on Elena Kagan, nominated by President Barack Obama in January to be solicitor general. But at least one high-ranking lawmakers isn’t sold on the candidate.

specterSen. Arlen Specter, the highest ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said yesterday that Kagan, Harvard Law School’s dean who is said to also be on Obama’s Supreme Court short list, still hasn’t clarified her views on warrantless surveillance and a host of other matters.

In February, Kagan submitted a series of supplemental responses to queries by Specter and other lawmakers. (See some of the responses here on DC Dicta). But Specter said Kagan did not provide “sufficient answers” to his questions, Politico reports.

Debate over Kagan’s nomination is set to start at 2 p.m., and could last as long as 6 hours before a final vote is called.

AG signals change in Rx pot prosecution policy

marijuanaleaf1The Justice Department will no longer prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries that operate legally under state laws in California and about a dozen other states, Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday.

The policy is a reversal of the approach taken during the Bush administration, where such drug distributors faced federal prosecution even in states that had passed laws permitting medicinal marijuana use by cancer patients, chronic pain sufferers and those with other serious ailments.

agholderNow, Holder said, federal prosecutors will focus on drug distributors who violate both state and federal laws. “Those are the organizations, the people, that we will target,” Holder said during a roundtable with reporters, as reported by The Los Angeles Times.

Obama: Med-mal reform “on the table”

obama2The debate over how to reform the nation’s health care system may include talk of reforming the medial malpractice litigation system, President Barack Obama and his aides said.

While Democrats have traditionally fought efforts to limit medical malpractice litigation, that could change as Democratic lawmakers and White House officials ponder ways to change the system in order to cut costs.

“Medical liability issues – I think all those things have to be on the table,” Obama recently told a meeting of business leaders, according to the Associated Press.

At a meeting of the American Medical Association, Obama health advisor Ezekiel Emanuel – brother of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel – reiterated that stance.

“I’m not going to give you any details because I can’t. I just can tell you I’ve been thinking long and hard about that,” Ezekiel Emanuel said “It hasn’t gone unnoticed. So stay tuned.”

While any plan to cap punitive and pain and suffering damages is not likely to be embraced by Congress – such a plan was rejected when proposed by former President George W. ¬†Bush – ideas like establishing “health courts,” encouraging disclosure and compensation in the case of error, and establishing negotiated compensation could be floated.

Scroll To Top