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Ginsburg released from hospital

SCOTUSblog is reporting that Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been released from the hospital and is expected to return to work at the Court today.

A statement from the Supreme Court reads:

“Justice Ginsburg was released from Washington Hospital Center this morning and plans to be at work at the Court this afternoon.”

Friday morning docket: Ginsburg hospitalized

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was hospitalized Thursday after feeling faint while working in her chambers. She is expected to be released today.

Ginsburg, 76, was taken to the Washington Hospital Center a few hours after after she fell ill, according to a statement from the Court. The justice felt faint just before 5 p.m., about an hour after receiving an iron sucrose infusion to treat anemia – a condition she was diagnosed with in July. That diagnosis came after a comprehensive health assessment that found she was otherwise in good health.

“One hour following the completion of this infusion, she felt faint, developed light headedness and fatigue,” the Court’s statement said. “Medical assistance was summoned from the Office of the Attending Physician, and medical evaluation disclosed a slightly low blood pressure, which can occur following this treatment. She was monitored at the Court, blood tests were performed and she was found to be in stable health. Fluids were administered and her symptoms improved, but she was taken as a precaution for evaluation at the Washington Hospital Center at approximately 7:45 p.m.”

In January, Ginsburg was diagnosed with early stage pancreatic cancer, and underwent surgery in February. Just 18 days later, she returned to the Court’s next regularly scheduled oral arguments. Although the illness stirred speculation that Ginsburg may soon step down from the Court due to will health, she has given no indication of any plan to retire. She has not missed an appearance at the Court, and she has maintained a busy schedule, including a two-day stint last week as a visiting scholar at Northwestern University School.

In other news,

Lawyers’ exemption: Attorneys, merchants, retailers, accountants and other non-financial professionals would be exempt from regulations and oversight under the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency, according to a memorandum issued by the office of Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. (Lawyers USA)

This little device went to market: The Food and Drug Administration has commissioned the Institute of Medicine to study the process by which certain medical devices and are cleared to be marketed in the United States – a process that has been the subject of criticism. (Lawyers USA)

Looking for fast flag resolution: The American Bar Association filed a motion for summary judgment Wednesday in its case that seeks to prevent the Federal Trade Commission from applying a new anti-identity theft regulation to attorneys. (Lawyers USA)

Seat filler: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick today named Paul G. Kirk Jr., a former aide and longtime confidant of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, to temporarily fill the late senator’s seat. (NYT)

Breyer: Courts need better PR

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is worried that the judicial branch is suffering a public relations crisis.

The public doesn’t understand impartiality of judges and the importance of judicial independence, Breyer said at a speech honoring the 150th anniversary of Massachusetts’ trial court system Tuesday night.

“Judicial independence means something to a judge,” Breyer said at the event in Boston, Legal Blog Watch reports. “But to someone who is not a judge or a lawyer, it is hard to convince them of what you are talking about.”

He urged the judges and lawyers at the gathering to support efforts to educate the public about the role of the courts and the people who run them. “You know whether you’re deciding [a case] fairly, but don’t expect anyone else to,” Breyer said.

Sotomayor’s pitch

The Sotomayor tour continues. The next stop? Yankee Stadium.

Justice Sonia Soyomayor is scheduled to throw out the first pitch Saturday right before her beloved New York Yankees play their rivals, the Boston Red Sox.

If you recall, the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry was brought up several times during Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy is a devoted Red Sox fan. He decided to support Sotomayor anyway.

(In the interest of full disclosure, DC Dicta is firmly with Leahy on this one. Go Sox!)

O’Connor takes reform message to W.Va.

First the issue of West Virginia’s judicial elections process went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Now a former justice of the nation’s highest court is going all the way to West Virginia to take on the issue.

Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor went to the mining state to urge a change in the way the judges on the state’s appellate court are selected. O’Connor, a vocal opponent of partisan judicial elections, urged state officials to follow the lead of her home state of Arizona in reforming the judicial process.

“It’s just been an excellent system,” she said of Arizona, where a commission now recommends judges to the governor for appointment. “I think we have as good a bench in the state today, as anywhere in the nation.”

O’Connor spoke at the second of three public hearings on potential changes to West Virginia’s judicial selection process, according to WVPB. That process was the subject of national attention when the U.S. Supreme Court took up the case this year in Caperton v. A. T. Massey Coal Co., which involved a West Virginia appellate judge who cast the deciding vote overturning a $50 million verdict against a company.

The judge’s ruling came after the company’s CEO gave $3 million in direct and indirect contributions to the judge’s election campaign. That amount was more than half the total spent in the campaign.

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court held that the judge’s failure to recuse himself violated the Due Process Clause.

Monday status conference: The president’s making his case

If you feel like you’ve seen a lot of the president lately, you are not alone. President Obama went on an unprecedented media blitz over the weekend, appearing on the Sunday political talk shows of every major television network in an effort to drum up support for his health care reform plan.

He even tried to demonstrate his willingness to work with Republicans by speaking of his plan to explore medical malpractice reform measures. “That’s not popular in my party,” the president noted during his appearance on NBC. Tonight the president wraps up his media bonanza with an appearance on Letterman.


Talking about an arbitration: A recent 5th Circuit ruling is reigniting a push by attorneys’ groups for the passage of a bill that would prohibit pre-dispute mandatory arbitration clauses in most contracts. (Lawyers USA)

DOMA as I say, not as I do: The Justice Department does not endorse the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman for federal purposes. But it continues to defend it legally, this time in a Boston court. (Boston Globe)

Taking aim at Iqbal: Groups of trial lawyers, civil rights advocates and consumer groups are planning a strategy to undo the Supreme Court decision that raised pleading standards in federal courts. (National Law Journal)

Breach of (anti)trust? The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has introduced a bill that would eliminate a federal antitrust exemption for health insurance and medical malpractice insurance companies. (Insurance Journal)

Lopez and Anthony Washington’s new ‘It’ couple

Have Jennifer Lopez and her husband Marc Anthony become part of Washington’s elite?

It sure seems that way, the way they’ve been rubbing elbows with the powerful people from the nation’s capital recently.

We knew that the couple hosted a party at their New York home for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Now comes word that Anthony received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Congressional Hispanic Institute’s 32nd Annual Gala this week.

And who was on hand to fete the Latin singer at the event held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center Wednesday night? None other than President Barack Obama, who made a little joke about Rep. Nydia Velasquez, the Institute’s chairwoman. “Nydia has a crush on you!” the president told Anthony as the crowd, including his wife, laughed. “I’m telling you, J.Lo, watch out!”

Sotomayor, who appears to be the couple’s new BFF, was seated next to them at the event.

Later that night the couple hit the rooftop lounge of the new W Hotel Washington to celebrate Anthony’s birthday with guests including Rep. Linda Sanchez.

Earlier in the week Lopez and Anthony had the ear of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Capitol Hill, discussing issues like education affordability.

The couple also paid a visit to the White House, bringing their toddler twins Max and Emme to meet the first family. “Max was tearing up the White House,” Anthony said.

Friday morning docket: Club Med-mal

Yesterday the White House gave us a few more details about the administration’s proposed state-level medical malpractice reform demonstration programs. People are reacting, but no one on either side of the debate seems particularly excited about it.

American Association of Justice President Anthony Tarricone said the programs could hurt victims of medical negligence. “Forty-six states have already enacted tort reform and health care costs continue to hurt the pocketbooks of American families,” he said in a statement yesterday.  “Because of these tort reforms, patients injured through no fault of their own are often unable to seek justice.”

The Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform, which was strongly pushed for the health care reform package to include some tort reform measure such as health courts, also doesn’t like the plan all that much. “While we are encouraged that the Obama Administration has made medical liability reform part of their overall health care package, the $25 million state grant program announced today amounts to about 1-40,000th of one percent of the cost of a one trillion dollar health care bill,” said Lisa A. Rickard, ILR’s president. “Studies have shown that meaningful medical malpractice reform can save from $120 billion to as much as $500 billion over a decade. But a small medical liability grant program will not be effective, and will preserve the status quo when it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits.”

Meanwhile, one potential method of med-mal reform – requiring a malpractice lawsuits to be accompanied by a certificate of merit by a medical professional – was thrown out in one state yesterday. The Washington Supreme Court held that the requirement impedes access to the courts and violates the state constitution’s separation of powers clause.

In other news,

Senate’s med-mal plan: Sen. Max Baucus’ health care reform plan contains no concrete tort reform mandates, but the proposal would encourage Congress to “consider establishing a state … program to evaluate alternatives to the current civil litigation system.” (Lawyers USA)

If you don’t do the crime, you don’t have to do the time: Violent crimes in the United States fell in 2008, and so did incarceration rates. The Federal Bureau of Investigation sees a connection there. (Lawyers USA)

One less legal problem for former AG: A federal judge dismissed a civil lawsuit against former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, rejecting job applicants’ claim of being blacklisted from the Bush administration’s Justice Department based on their ideology. (WaPo)

Constitution Day trip. Retired Justice David Souter celebrated Constitution Day – which was also his birthday – talking constitutional law at a Harvard panel. (Harvard Crimson) (See the archived webcast of the event here)

Filling a vacancy: The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a measure that will allow Gov. Deval Patrick to temporarily fill the seat left vacant by Sen. Edward Kennedy’s death. It could become law as early as next week. (Boston Herald)

Birther defeat: A lawsuit by a vocal leader of a group claiming President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. was thrown out of court this week. (KCAL, CBS News)

Less money, more problems: A federal judge in California is resigning to go into private practice, saying his judicial salary is too low to let him support his seven children. The move draws attention to an issue that has been a priority for Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., who has urged an increase in judicial salaries each year since being seated on the High Court. (Reuters)

Souter at 70

The last time a former Supreme Court justice celebrated his 70th birthday after leaving the bench was on June 19, 1980, when Abe Fortas was the birthday boy.

Now, nearly three decades later, it has happened again. Today retired Justice David Souter turns 70.

And now the new septuagenarian is spending much of his time focused on civics education. After giving a speech on the topic at the ABA’s annual meeting this summer, Souter is now urging the New Hampshire Supreme Court Society to come up with more specific ideas about increasing civics education in grade schools.

Scalia loves Mona Lisa (no, not that one)

For more than a year now, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has been on the talk circuit promoting his book on appellate advocacy. And just when we thought we had learned all there was to know about the jurist from his past speeches, he drops an interesting nugget of information – like his favorite film.

“My Cousin Vinny,” Scalia told the crowd at a book-signing junket in the D.C.-area earlier this week. “I can watch that over and over again.”

DC Dicta would give anything to hear the justice say the line: “What is a yute?” But Scalia said one of his favorite things about the movie was Mona Lisa Vito – the character played by Marisa Tomei. “God, she’s a killer,” the justice said.

More here from Politico.