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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Totenberg: Justices ‘really worried’ about leaks

The deliberations of U.S. Supreme Court justices have always been secretive and closely-held – until last week when details about Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.’s apparent vote change in the health care case were leaked to CBS News’ Jan Crawford.

Nina Totenberg, NPR’s veteran Supreme Court correspondent, said the justices fear such leaks. “The justices are really worried about it. They are always worried about it,” Totenberg, who counts several current and former justices as her “professional friends” told Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia.

But Totenberg cautioned not to read too much into Roberts’ apparent change of heart, saying that during the course of case deliberations it is not unusual for a justice to change his or her mind. That is why reporting leaked information from the Court is always a dangerous proposition for a news reporter. Had she been leaked information about the health care ruling before it was released by the Court, she said, “I would have been scared to death.”

Totenberg’s full interview is below. For more Supreme Court news and information, see Lawyers USA‘s Supreme Court Report.

Will public opinion sway Court’s same-sex marriage rulings?

So if the Supreme Court takes public opinion into consideration – as some pundits assert was the case in Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.’s switched vote on the health care decision – what does that mean for the upcoming cases involving same-sex marriage rights?

Next term the Court will likely take up the challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples, as well as California’s Proposition 8, a voter-imposed ban on gay marriage in that state.

As polls show a steady increase of support for same-sex marriages among Americans, could that be a factor in the justices’ opinion? In a blog post for The New Yorker, Richard Socarides suggests so. If Roberts votes with a majority to uphold DOMA and Prop 8, he could find himself at odds with American public opinion – and also in the position to have to reverse himself later if the issue returns to the Court for a second time, Socarides argues:

“Historically, it is in these situations that public opinion matters and can be significant, as it was with the Court’s rulings on civil-rights issues. It’s never an issue of the Court looking to public opinion for the result—but they do look to the direction the country is headed, and at its normative values, to see if the result will be accepted by the governed.”

More here from The New Yorker, and more Supreme Court news and information from Lawyers USA here on our Supreme Court Report.

Health care ruling a bitter pill for some justices

Have you ever had a coworker who rubbed you the wrong way, creating a tense atmosphere in the office? Well imagine if you are a Supreme Court justice in that situation; apparently the tension on the bench is so thick you can cut it with a scalpel.

That’s the result of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.’s now famous – and infamous – opinion in the health care case, reports CBS News’ Jan Crawford. Robert’s decision to break from the Court’s conservatives and uphold the law’s individual mandate under Congress’ taxing power really irked some of his fellow justices, Crawford said.

“[S]ome people say you would have to go back nearly 70 years to see this kind of tension, and almost bitterness, that now exists among the justices,” according to the report.

Get the latest Supreme Court news and analysis – including a wrap of the term’s biggest decisions – on our Supreme Court Report.

DC Dicta takes a short break, back next week

The U.S. Supreme Court stands in summer recess, and some of its justices have jetted to far-clung locales (Malta, anyone?).

DC Dicta too is taking a brief hiatus, but we’ll be back next week. In the meantime, you can still get all the latest Supreme Court news, including legal analyses examining the impact of the Court’s decisions, on Lawyers USA’s Supreme Court Report.

You can also catch read up on legal news from Washington’s other branches of government on our DC News page.

Did Roberts change his vote in the healthcare case?

In the days since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld most of the federal health care law, Supreme Court watchers have been posing a new question about the Court’s deliberations in the case: did Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. change his vote?

According to CBS News’ Jan Crawford, he did – spurring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy to lead a month-long effort to convince Roberts to return to the other side.

“He was relentless,” one of Crawford’s two sources said of Kennedy. “He was very engaged in this.”

According to Crawford’s report:

“It is not known why Roberts changed his view on the mandate and decided to uphold the law. At least one conservative justice tried to get him to explain it, but was unsatisfied with the response, according to a source with knowledge of the conversation.”

Meanwhile, check out Lawyers USA’s analysis of the decisions legal impact.