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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Administration backs the use of race in school admissions decisions

The Obama administration is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to allow colleges and universities to consider race in their selective admissions decisions.

In an amicus brief filed with the Court yesterday in the case Fisher v. University of Texas, the Justice Department argued that the school’s consideration of race as one factor in a broad consideration of student qualifications is necessary to meet the school’s compelling interest in attaining the benefits of a diverse student body.

“The modest, holistic manner in which the University incorporated consideration of race into its [admissions] assessment demonstrates that the University’s objective is attaining the educational benefits of diversity,” the government’s brief states. “Race is one of many characteristics (including socioeconomic status, work experience, and other factors) that admissions officials may consider in evaluating the contributions that an applicant would make to the University, including interactions that occur among students in small classes.”

The brief can be found here on the university’s web page. And more Supreme Court-related news can be found on Lawyers USA’s Supreme Court Report.

Million-dollar judicial getaway irks solons

Despite facing criticism from GOP lawmakers, a pricey Hawaiian judicial conference attended by lawyers, judges and two Supreme Court justices took place this past weekend.

The 9th Circuit conference, held in Maui (which is, indeed, in the 9th Circuit, after all) drew the ire of Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who balked at the meeting’s $1 million price tab and urged Chief Judge Alex Kozinski to call the whole thing off, the Washington Examiner reports.

But in a letter to the lawmakers last week, Kozinski said that it was too late to cancel the event without facing pricey penalties, and because many of the event’s attendees – which included Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. – had already purchased nonrefundable tickets.

“In hindsight, had we foreseen the nation’s current fiscal problems, we may have chosen a different site for this year’s conference,” Kozinski wrote to the senators, adding that future conferences will be held in California, closer to where most judges live. More on this weekend’s program from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Jane Roberts, chief influencer?

Did Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.’s wife Jane play a role in his his decision in the health care law ruling?

It’s possible, according to the Huffington Post’s Christina Wilkie, citing anonymous sources close to the Roberts family.

Jane, the sources say, exercises a “heavy influence” over her husband. Other friends say that it is not unusual for spouses to be influential. In Washington, “access is everything,” writer and noted Washington dinner party host Sally Quinn told Wilkie. “If you want to reach somebody in Washington, the best way to reach them is through their wives.”

Cracked ribs fail to slow Ginsburg down

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn’t let a couple of cracked ribs break her stride as the U.S. Supreme Court finished one of its biggest terms in recent history.

Ginsburg told Reuters’ Joan Biskupic that she felt pain after falling in her home on June 4. The justice, who said she feels in “great” health and works out regularly with a trainer, went to work as usual, saying she “thought it was nothing.” She added that it was “the worst possible time” to suffer an injury, since the Court was wrapping up the term and still had the health care ruling, the ruling on Arizona’s immigration law and other opinions in the hopper.

But after being examined, she discovered she had two broken ribs. That still didn’t stop her – she “followed her schedule as usual,” Court spokesperson Kathy Arberg told Biskupic. “She indeed did not skip a beat and did not feel it rose to a serious health concern.”

GOP readies lawsuit against Holder

Congress is in the midst of a five-week summer recess, but that won’t stop some GOP lawmakers from filing a lawsuit against Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Lest week House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. told NBC News that Republican members of Congress will sue Holder to compel the release documents associated with the failed “Fast and Furious” gun-walking operation. In June, the House voted to hold Holder in contempt, but a U.S. attorney declined to prosecute Holder.

“We’ll be filing a civil case during the break,” Issa told NBC, “We will expect a day in court before a federal judge, which we have a 100 percent chance that the judge will hold that these documents should be delivered.”

Legal discussion music to Ginsburg’s ears

How is the opera like the law? Both can be complex, both are open to interpretation, and both are integral parts of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life.

During the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago Friday, Ginsburg joined Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. and Anthony Freud, general director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, for a panel discussion, “Arias of Law.”

According to ABA Now, Freud observed that, like the law, opera is open to interpretation. That led to a discussion of constitutional construction.

“I consider myself certainly an originalist in this sense,” Ginsburg said, according to ABA Now. “The founders of our country were great men with a vision. They were held back from realizing their ideas by the times in which they lived. But I think their notion was that society would evolve and the meaning of some of the grand clauses in the Constitution, like due process of law, would grow with society so that the Constitution would always be attuned with the society that law is meant to serve.”


Sotomayor hangs out with the Bleacher Creatures

When Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor is not on the bench, she’s in the bleachers.

The Supreme Court justice spent a little time hanging out with “Bald Vinny” Milano and the rest of the Bleacher Creatures in Section 203 at Yankee Stadium while she rooted for the Bronx Bombers Wednesday, the New York Daily News reports. Milano leads the traditional “Roll Call” at the beginning of every game. (You know: “Derek Jeter!! *Clap clap clapclapclap*”)

Sotomayor, who is a Bronx native, is a lifelong Yankees fan, is a celebrity within the ball club. She’s been a guest of Milano before, and she had thrown out the ceremonial first pitch. But she revealed that on the job, one of her colleagues – who is not shy about pulling rank – likes to remind her she’d the new pinstriped kid.

“Justice (Antonin) Scalia is fond of reminding me that he was the first Yankees fan on the Court and he is still a very loyal Yankees fan,” she said, according to the Daily News. “I keep telling him the only difference is that I was born in the Bronx and he wasn’t.”


Scalia to Posner: You’re no Supreme

Judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit is not a Supreme Court justice. And Justice Antonin G. Scalia is happy to remind folks of this fact when responding to criticism the lower court judge made of one of Scalia’s opinions.

In his Supreme Court review published on Slate, Posner suggested that Scalia’s partial dissent in Arizona v. U.S., in which the justice laments the problem of illegal immigration, may be more political than judicial.

When asked about it during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Scalia replied: “He’s a court of appeals judge, isn’t he? He doesn’t sit in judgment of my opinions as far as I’m concerned.”

More here form Bloomberg News and Above the Law.