DC Dicta is taking a week-long hiatus. We’ll be back April 8.
In Washington, folks generally know to talk softly – particularly if the talk is about someone else. Ears are everywhere, and the words may get back to the subject. But it’s also a good idea to know who you are talking to – a lesson apparently learned by NAACP President Benjamin Jealous Saturday as he chatted with a fellow guest at the annual Gridiron Dinner this past weekend.
According to the Washington Post, the guest commented to Jealous about the good job NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyer, Debo P. Adegbile, did arguing the Voting Rights Case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Jealous agreed. But, Jealous noted, the U.S. solicitor general was awful.
That’s when Jealous’ conversation partner identified himself: Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr.
Apparently mortified, Jealous apologized and excused himself.
Jealous denied the account, but the Post noted that two witnesses confirmed the conversation. Again, ears everywhere.
During that week last year, the justices held marathon oral arguments in the challenge to the federal health care law. The year before, it was the closely watched case involving Wal-Mart employees who sought to form the nation’s largest employment bias class action.
This year, another set of high profile cases will have the justices’ attention that same week: the challenges to California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage and to the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Those cases will be heard, respectively, on March 26 and 27, with each getting one hour of allotted arguments.
Happy New Year!
Did you know that our Federal News Service, a sister company of Lawyers USA, will be using covering the presidential debates – in a truly unique way?
As John Stodder explains, it’s social media coverage “with a twist.”
“On the blog, which is being launched in conjunction with the debates, correspondents for FedNews will post past comments on debate topics by Obama and Romney so readers can see for themselves how much the candidates have altered their stances since the 2008 campaign and on other public occasions. The conversation will continue on Facebook and Twitter.
“Meanwhile, Tumblr, a blog platform with 69 million blogs that is popular among college-age users, will be “Live-Giffing the 2012 Debates,” which means the editors of Tumbling the Election will post short, endlessly repeating videos documenting “the best debate moments, from zingers to gaffes to awkward silences,” and are inviting users to do the same during the debates.”
As usual, FNS will offer its subscribers near real-time verbatim transcripts of the candidates’ words – exactly as they are spoken.
Learn more about FNS here.
After Colbert expressed disappointment with his team for not securing an active Supreme Court justice to interview, he chided Stevens for failing to take his lifetime appointment literally. “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but you sound like a quitter,” Colbert said.
“I am,” Stevens replied. “I am a quitter. After 37 years you’re entitled to quit.”
Speaking about Stevens’ book, “Five Chiefs,” Colbert asked: “Were you upset that you were never one of the chiefs?”
“Well, you know, I was acting chief for a while,” Stevens said.
“Did you go mad with power?” Colbert queried. “You know, ‘Scalia – through the spanking machine!’”
“No I never went that far,” Stevens chuckled.
On the Citizens United ruling, Colbert challenged Stevens’ assertion that, although corporations case considered persons in some contexts, they don’t enjoy all the rights that humans do.
“You don’t have the right to judge the way” corporations do things, Colbert said.
“I think I do,” Stevens replied.
“You do? Why, because you’re a Supreme Court justice?”
“That’s right,” Stevens said.
“Ok. fantastic,” Colbert snarks. “Ok. You’re a Supreme Court justice, I’m not. That gives you the right to judge things. That’s very convenient.”
Colbert’s last question for Stevens: “Are there any decisions you’ve made that you’ve regretted?”
“Other than this interview?” Stevens said. “I don’t think so.”
As another calendar year draws to a close, let’s take a look back at this blog’s most popular posts of the year – for auld lang syne.
5. The Funniest Justice, week 6. When Justice Antonin Scalia is not the funniest justice of the week, people take note.
4. Supreme mistakes. To err is human, but when experts consider the biggest blunders of the nation’s highest court, people like to know.
3. Five years of silence. There isn’t much to say about this post on Justice Clarence Thomas’ oral argument technique.
2. Scalia’s silver anniversary. When the chief justice humorously marks a major milestone for the Court’s most senior associate, it makes a splash.
1. Scalia’s hip-hop culture lesson. We must admit, Scalia’s inquiry about gold teeth was one of DC Dicta’s favorite moments of the year as well. It gives a whole new meaning to oral arguments.
Happy New Year!
The number of death sentences imposed this year dropped to less than 100 for the first time since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, according to a new report by the Death Penalty Information Center. The number of executions carried out also declined, according to the group, which attributes the change to the “discomfort that many Americans have with the death penalty.”
“Whether it’s concerns about unfairness, executing the innocent, the high costs of the death penalty, or the general feeling that the government just can’t get it right, Americans moved further away from capital punishment in 2011,” said Richard Dieter, DPIC’s Executive Director and the report’s author.
According to the report, 78 new death sentences have been handed down so far this year. That is a sharp decrease from 2010, when 117 death sentences were handed down, and a dramatic decrease from 2000, when 224 death sentences were imposed.
There have been 43 executions carried out so far in 2011, compared to 46 in 2010 and 85 in 2000, according to the report. Nearly 3 out of 4 executions took place in the South, with Texas leading all states with 13.
Dieter also noted that several states, including Illinois, New Mexico, New Jersey and New York, have abandoned capital punishment in recent years, and other states including California, Connecticut, Maryland and Oregon are exploring the possibility of also ending executions.