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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Stevens: Court may regret Citizens United ruling

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens said his former colleagues may be ruing the day the Citizens United v. FEC decision was handed down.

In a speech last night at the University of Arkansas, Stevens said the Supreme Court will soon have to decide whether the decision, which held that the right of corporations, unions and other groups to make unlimited super PAC contributions in election campaigns is protected by the First Amendment, also applies to foreign groups including terrorist organizations.

Stevens said based on the words “not true” famously uttered by Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. in response to President Barack Obama’s criticism of the Citizens United decision at the 2010 State of the Union address, “there will not be five votes” to extend Citizens United to foreign entities.

“The court must then explain its abandonment of, or at least qualify reliance upon, the proposition that the identity of the speaker is an impermissible basis for regulating campaign speech,” Stevens said, according to CNN’s Bill Mears. “It will be necessary to explain why the First Amendment provides greater protection for some nonvoters than that of other nonvoters.

Obama touts Sotomayor nomination on anniversary

We’ve already noted that the Supreme Court will almost surely be a hot campaign issue in this year’s presidential race. And now a new campaign ad from President Barack Obama has put one justice in the spotlight: Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor.

A new campaign ad released Saturday highlights the three-year anniversary of the nomination of Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor. Captioned in Spanish, the video features testimony from Latina lawyers and other professionals saying what Sotomayor’s nomination meant to them.

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Justices will wrap the term by June, then jet off

If you were wondering whether to put off your Fourth of July travel plans for fear that you will miss the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in the health care law case  or in the Arizona immigration law challenge, fear not.

The justices will almost surely wrap up the term, pending blockbuster cases included, by the end of June – the Court’s traditional conclusion time frame. That’s because, according to the AP, the justices have planes to catch.

Several of the justices, who often accept teaching positions during the summers in exotic locales,  are set to begin professorial gigs the first week of July, the AP reports. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. will be jetting off to Malta. Justices Antonin G. Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg are headed to Austria. Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. will be going to Italy.

More here from the AP, and more on all the latest news from the Supreme Court from Lawyers USA’s Supreme Court Report.

Court rules in Douple Jeopardy, RESPA cases

If the verdict isn’t legit, the jury didn’t acquit.

That was the ruling from the Supreme Court this morning in the case Blueford v. Arizona.  The Court ruled that jurors’ answers to a judge query about deliberations did not amount to an acquittal for Double Jeopardy purposes.

More on that case, as well as today’s RESPA ruling in the case Freeman v. Quicken Loans, Inc. to come on Lawyers USA’s Supreme Court Report.

Sticks and stones: Will threat of label affect the Court?

Are liberal members of Congress and the press trying to influence the outcome of the Supreme Court health care challenge by threatening to call the nation’s chief justice a name?

That is what a Wall Street Journal editorial asserts. And what is  the nasty label that is designed to sway Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.? Activist.

The editorial points to recent press coverage suggesting that overturning the health care law would be a radical move tantamount to reversing New Deal era legislation, as well as recent comments made by  Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor, where he said he hopes Roberts has “a strong institutional sense of the proper role of the judicial branch.”

“The conservative activism of recent years has not been good for the Court,” Leahy said.

The full editorial can be found here, and Lawyers USA’s coverage of the Supreme Court, including the health care case, can be found on our Supreme Court Report.

Court rules in three cases, big decisions ahead

At the U.S. Supreme Court, Monday was a bad day for kids seeking to benefit from their parents, and a good day for a Japanese baseball player.

In three decisions, the court denied social security benefits to children conceived via in vitro fertilization long after the insured father’s death (click here for more), declined to impute a parent’s years of residency to a child who is seeking to avoid deportation (more on that case here), and ruled that a statute allowing recovery for litigation-related interpreter services does not cover document translation (here for more on that case).

But as you know, there are still major cases waiting to come down, including a ruling on whether life sentences for juveniles is constitutional, whether the federal health care law will stand, and whether Arizona had the authority to enact a tough immigration enforcement law.

Bookmark Lawyers USA’s Supreme Court Report as your one-stop spot for all the latest Supreme Court news.

Think you know how the Supremes will rule? Cast your vote

The Supreme Court returns today at 10 a.m. to issue orders and opinions. That means you still have time to wager a guess at how the remaining cases of the term will be decided. The folks at our sister paper Missouri Lawyers Weekly can help you out with that endeavor. They’re hosting a contest to see how well readers can predict the outcomes of ten closely-watched cases. They even have experts, this blogger included, offering thoughts on how the cases could come down.

Cast your votes here.

Breyer robbed again

Poor Justice Stephen G. Breyer just can’t catch a break.

In the last year alone, Breyer suffered a broken collarbone in a bicycle accident, and he was robbed at machete point in his Carribean vacation home. Now comes news that Breyer’s Georgetown home was burglarized earlier this month.

The Washington Post reports that the robbers made off with silver valued at over $3,000. But fear not, a spokesperson for the Supreme Court said no Supreme Court-related documents were swiped.

For the latest Supreme Court news, see the Supreme Court Report on Lawyers USA online.

Will Supremes take up case of tasered pregnant woman?

For years, lower courts have been trying to draw the line between reasonable police conduct and the use of excessive force. And now the U.S. Supreme Court could chime in on the matter with a case involving a police officer’s use of a Taser on a pregnant woman.

According to the New York Times, the case involves a woman who was pulled over for a ticket while she was 7 months pregnant. After refusing to sign the ticket or get out of the vehicle when instructed by police, the officer used a Taser on the woman several times.

Now her attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to determine whether the use of the Taser was excessive, the times reports. (HT: ABA Journal).

Scalia vs. Obama administration?

Justice Antonin G. Scalia is the U.S. Supreme Court most senior associate justice. But some say that during oral arguments he often assumes another role: chief antagonist to the Obama Administration.

When Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. or other attorneys from the Justice Department argue the federal government’s position at the Court, critics say, Scalia can usually be counted on to fire sharp questions. After the proffered answers are given, Scalia often dismisses them with one of his favorite expressions: “extraordinary!”

“His questions have been increasingly confrontational,” said Charles Fried, a Harvard Law School professor and former Reagan-era solicitor general told Bloomberg’s Greg Stohr.

Scalia’s opposition to the Obama Administration was particularly apparent during the recent marathon oral arguments in the health care case, some observers told Stohr.

“Someone who had just tuned into the health-care argument might get the impression that the court is a much more partisan institution than it actually is,” said David Strauss, a constitutional law professor at the University of Chicago Law School.