Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Sotomayor thought Obama was ‘crazy’ to nominate her

Continuing to make the media rounds to promote her memoir, Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor told Oprah Winfrey that she was shocked to ever be nominated to the Supreme Court.

“I thought he was crazy,” Sotomayor said of President Barack Obama in an interview with Winfrey for O Magazine. “No, seriously—I am not a betting woman, but I kept telling my friends, ‘He’s never gonna pick me.’ Not in a million years. I’m very rational, and I’m another New Yorker—at the time there were a few others—and I’d had a very contentious nomination to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. I couldn’t figure out why he’d elect to go into a battle over me. And so I was in total disbelief when I was called that day.”

No Supreme Court fete for Obama

There will be plenty of hubbub during the upcoming inauguration season that will kick off President Barack Obama’s second term. But don’t expect a reception at the U.S. Supreme Court; there will be none.

Unlike in 2008, when Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the other justices welcomed Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at reception at the Court, no such event will be held in January, the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog reports.

Not every election results in a Supreme Court fete. Reelected presidents like Obama don’t usually get a second Court welcome. But not all newly-elected president’s do either – just ask former President George W. Bush, who didn’t get one at all (perhaps the justices were wary to do so for appearances sake after the Bush v. Gore decision).

Court will be Supreme presidential campaign issue

As President Barack Obama prepares to formally launch his reelection campaign and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney continues to stump, expect the Supreme Court to be a major campaign issue.

Two very high profile cases – the challenge to the federal health care law and the challenge to the Arizona immigration law authorizing local and state police with immigration enforcement powers – will be decided before the election, reminding voters of how important the Court is. And equally headline-grabbing cases – dealing with affirmative action in colleges and perhaps California’s same-sex marriage ban and the Defense of Marriage Act – lie on the horizon for the justices to take up next term.

All this comes at a time when the Court is nearly equally divided ideologically. And four of the nine justices are over the age of 70: Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg (79), Antonin Scalia (76), Anthony Kennedy (75), and Steven Breyer (73).

This week Obama indicated that he is fully aware of the major role the Court will play in the campaign.

“There are going to be some Supreme Court appointments probably if you look actuarially for the next president,” Obama said at a fundraiser with former President Clinton, according to the Washington Examiner. “There’s so much at stake here.”

Romney has already spoken about the importance of Supreme Court appointment power, and pledged to nominate judges with ideologies in line with the Court’s most conservative jurists.

(Romney photo by Gage Skidmore)

Did Scalia hint at a health care law KO?

As several of the justices of the Supreme Court spent the off week attending events around the country, members of the media asked them obligatory questions about the pending challenge to the federal health care law, which was heard last week.

Justices usually demur when faced with such requests, refusing to make out-of-court statements on pending cases and sticking to other subjects, like antelope hunting.

But Justice Antonin Scalia took an interesting approach to not answering a question about President Barack Obama’s much discussed “judicial activism” comment, according to the AP (via the WSJ’s Law Blog):

“We don’t respond to criticism,” Scalia said in comments to students at the University of Southern Mississippi. “Judges use what’s known as the rope-a-dope trick. It’s judicial tradition.”

What is a “rope-a-dope,” you ask? Law Blog explains that it’s a boxing move used by Muhammad Ali, whereby a boxer leans against the ropes as his opponent pummels away. The shots that are not blocked are absorbed by the rope’s elasticity. Once the opponent is tired, the boxer has conserved enough energy to make a knockout punch.

So did Scalia suggest that he’d take Obama’s shots for now, only to come back with a ruling that knocks out the health care law? Only nine people know for sure – the justices took their initial vote on the case during a closed-door session last Friday.

20-year-old video of law student Barack Obama hits YouTube

A 20-year-old public service announcement that hit YouTube yesterday is drawing a lot of attention because of the speaker: then Harvard Law Review editor Barack Obama.

The young Obama narrated a “Black History Minutes” PSA which aired on television back in 1991. In the minute-long video, Obama recognizes the life of lawyer Charles Hamilton Houston who, Obama says, “masterminded the strategy that eventually lead to the historic decision of Brown v. Board of Education, which reversed the Supreme Court’s decision on ‘separate but equal.’”

YouTube Preview Image

HT: ABA Journal

Giants at the Supreme Court (access required)

We know that being on a World Series championship team has its benefits. But apparently one of those perks is getting up close and personal with the justices at the nation’s highest court.

Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and Sonia Sotomayor welcomed members of the San Francisco Giants to the Court Monday for an exclusive tour. The team came to town for a series against the Washington Nationals.

“Justice Kennedy did a great job being a nice host,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told MLB.com. “We really appreciated them having us there.”

While it is customary for the winning team to also visit the White House for a visit with the president, the timing was off for the team: President Barack Obama was a little busy with the news that U.S. forces located and killed terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

But the team seemed happy to wait until July for a face-to-face with the commander-in-chief.

“I’m excited to go to the White House and meet the President, especially now that we’ve been trying for years to try to get [Osama bin Laden] and we finally did,” Cody Ross said. “It’s a feather in [Obama’s] cap, that’s for sure.”

Our hat tips to How Appealing.

No Supreme drama at president’s address (access required)

Unlike last year, Tuesday’s State of the Union address contained no Supreme Court-related drama.

Leading up to the event, speculation swirled as to which Supreme Court justices may skip President Barack Obama’s second annual address altogether, given last year’s controversy over Justice Samuel Alito’s reaction to the president’s criticism of the Citizens United case, and the recent rise in tensions between the Court some members of the other branches of government.

But hours before the event, it was announced that Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. along with Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan would be in attendance. Though Roberts has in the past indicated his discomfort with attending the annual event – calling it a “political pep rally” – it was reported that Roberts wanted to show a sense of unity after the slayings of federal Judge Roll and five others in the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson.

Obama greeted each of the six justices in attendance warmly before beginning his address.

He went on the deliver an address that steered clear of any direct mention of the Court or its decisions.

Verrilli tapped as SG, stirring speculation over why Katyal wasn’t (access required)

President Barack Obama yesterday named Donald Verrilli, deputy White House counsel, as his pick to be the next solicitor general. That post has been filled on an interim basis by Justice Department attorney Neal Katyal since former Solicitor General Elena Kagan was nominated to the Supreme Court last year.

Though buzz about Verrilli possibly being primed for the post started almost as soon as Kagan was tapped for the high court back in May, now some Washington legal insiders are speculating about why Katyal wasn’t Obama’s choice.

Politico’s Ben Smith talked to “a lawyer who follows this stuff,” who suggested that Katyal fell victim to the so-called “Guantanamo 7” campaign:

Neal is a well-respected lawyer; the only “mark” against him is that he represented Guantanamo detainees — in fact, he in large part made his name when he won a case at the Supreme Court, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, representing detainees…Clearly the White House didn’t want a confirmation battle.

It’s crazy that you can be hurt for representing detainees even when the Supreme Court determines that the position you were arguing for was correct.

Main Justice’s Fahima Haque notes that those backing Katyal for the solicitor general post included Attorney General Eric Holder. But Haque also pointed out that the Hamdan case made Katyal “a darling of left-leaning progressives,” and may have given White House vetters cold feet.

Verrilli, who Obama called an “accomplished individual,” previously served as associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department, where he focused on national security.

Prior to his time at the Justice Department, Verrilli spent more than 20 years in the Washington office of Jenner & Block, where he co-chaired the firm’s Supreme Court practice group, arguing a dozen cases before the Court and participating in more than 100 Supreme Court cases.

Friday morning docket: Kagan’s paper trail gets longer

Here’s hoping lawmakers have had enough time to mine through the first batch of documents on Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan released last week by the Clinton Presidential Library – all 46,000 pages of them. Because today 40,000 more pages are on their way to Capitol Hill.

The first two batches of documents amount to about half the amount of documents amassed by the library relating to Kagan’s work in the Clinton White House.

Meanwhile, Republican Sens. Jon Kyl and Jeff Sessions are giving more hints about the questions they will post to Kagan during her confirmation hearings, which begin later this month. Today they are taking aim at memo’s Kagan wrote as a clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall. The lawmakers said that these early writings of Kagan show that she was seeking results based on politics and not the law.

“It indicates a developing lawyer who has a political bent to their legal work – pretty significantly so,” said Sessions, according to the AP.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama met with families of the 11 workers killed in the oil rig explosion that led to the massive spill in the coast. The families are urging lawmakers to reverse a law that limits the amount of compensation they can receive, per this post on the New York Times’ Caucus blog.

In other news,

Speak, or hold her peace? Will Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan talk about her views on issues from gay rights to abortion to affirmative action to allowing military recruiters on campus at her confirmation hearings? Should she? (Lawyers USA)

Plaintiff’s peril: Plaintiffs bringing employment discrimination claims often receive modest settlements, if anything at all, according to a new report by the American Bar Foundation. (Lawyers USA)

FDA’s S.O.S.? The Food and Drug Administration’s abilities to protect the public from outbreaks of foodborne illness are hampered by inefficiencies, limited resources and a piecemeal approach to gathering and using information on potential risks, according to a new report by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. (Lawyer’s USA)

Military surprise: Tucked into the same Pentagon policy bill as the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a little-noticed amendment that takes on making abortion easier for military women in war zones. (NYT)