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Today is the beginning of the final week of the US Supreme Court’s session, and Court Watch is in full swing.

Among the major cases, two pertain to same-sex marriage. One pertains to affirmative action. And one challenges the continuation of the Voting Act of the Civil Rights movement.

 

 

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in a final protest in Paris against a bill to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption.

There were scuffles and police fired tear gas as the protest spilled over onto the Champs Elysees, the avenue which runs past the president’s palace.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said there had been dozens of arrests.

France’s Senate is due to debate the bill next month after it was passed by the lower house of parliament.

President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party and its allies dominate both houses.

Opinion polls suggest a majority of French people still support gay marriage but their numbers have fallen in recent weeks.

for story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21918524

Obama’s ‘Court-Packing’ Moment?

Posted by Mark A. Calabria

Although Franklin Roosevelt did go on to win another term after his court-packing debacle in 1937, his support dramatically declined after the incident.  Whereas his 1936 election came with the support of 62% of voters, his 1940 was down to 55% (granted, still a “landslide by modern standards).  And while it wouldn’t be until 1946 that Republicans would take the Senate, the 1938 mid-terms did cost the Democrats five Senate seats.  The point of all this?  Constitutional overreach comes at a cost, and in a nation split roughly evenly on Red/Blue ideological lines, that coust could make all the difference.

While it is still too early to tell, President Obama’s recent “recess” appointments have the potential to erode his support among independents, many of whom actually care about the Constitution.  While the National Journal‘s Shane Goldmacher is pondering why Republicans even want to take on this fight, it really should be the White House questioning whether it is worth it.  When Ron Paul says, “The president is not a dictator or a king who can simply ignore the Constitution whenever he feels frustrated by the system of checks and balances,” this is something that anyone can understand, even former law professors.

A few things to remember about FDR’s court-packing scheme.  First, unlike Obama’s recent appointments, FDR’s plot was actually constitutional, but still struck at the checks and balances behind the Constitution.  FDR also painted his plan as a way to rein in an out-of-touch, conservative Court that, in his view, protected “big business” (sounds a little familiar).  Despite FDR’s massive popularity at the time, and the unpopularity of both Republicans and the Court, the plan still cost him.

http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/obamas-court-packing-moment/

     Is this the example of the National Rifle Association’s quid pro quo?

NRA tells board members they’re not to speak out or testify against Kagan’s SCOTUS nomination.  Is this part of  the deal they cut for getting their carve-out of the “DISCLOSE ACT” bill?

http://www.redstate.com/erick/2010/06/27/nra-issues-gag-order-to-its-board-members-on-elena-kagan/

     The left is already blasting Barack Obama for choosing the Solicitor General,  Elena Kagan, to fill the seat of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Many see this choice as moving the Court more toward the conservative right, instead of toward the left views of the likes of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

      A particular “endorsement” of Ms. Kagan comes from the Solictor General under Pres. George W. Bush, Ted Olsen, who believes that Ms. Kagan is a qualified nominee. Olsen appreciates Ms. Kagan’s views of the Constitution in its “strict” terms. Others, like the Federalist Society, have said that Obama has chosen “an individual who places a higher premium on political progressivism than adherence to the set of laws that have made this country strong and free,” said David McIntosh, a former Republican congressman and the co-founder of the conservative Federalist Society.

For the full story on the Kagan appointment:

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-05-10/kagan-the-bridge-builder-would-be-tested-on-court-update1-.html

     Unnamed White House sources are saying that Barack Obama will name the Solicitor General Elena Kagan to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, probably on Monday or Tuesday. Other White House sources say the President is still in the review process.

     FOXNews, through Major Garrett, has reported that Kagan, the former Dean of Harvard Law School, is the likely nominee, and the rationale for the choice supports her appointment:

                       (1) Ms. Kagan has NOT served on the judiciary, thus she will have a far shorter “paper trail” that might trip up her nomination,

                       (2) Ms. Kagan is a known acquaintance to the Obama White House,

                      (3) As Solicitor General, Ms. Kagan has already gone through the Senate confirmation process, which would enable the Senate Judiciary committee to move forward without a great deal of delay on her hearings,

                      (4) Having already been confirmed as Solicitor General by the Senate, Ms. Kagan is a choice that is less likely to be the subject of a filibuster from the minority party.

       The choice of Elena Kagan would appear to be a “safe” choice for the Obama administration, perhaps signalling that they are not up to the expenditure of a great deal of political capital as the midterm elections loom on the horizon. Or, given her close ties to the Obama White House, perhaps they view her as one of their pawns on upcoming cases, such as campaign reform and ObamaCare. A word of caution to the Obama White House: the choice of a close associate backfired on George W. Bush, when he nominated Harriett Meiers to the high Court, as she later withdrew her name.

      Abortion groups and gay marriage groups, on both sides of the issues, will be watching her appointment and confirmation process carefully and closely.

from the Associated Press:

 The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns.

By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for their own campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

It leaves in place a prohibition on direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions.

Critics of the stricter limits have argued that they amount to an unconstitutional restraint of free speech, and the court majority apparently agreed.

“The censorship we now confront is vast in its reach,” Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion, joined by his four more conservative colleagues.

However, Justice John Paul Stevens, dissenting from the main holding, said, “The court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined Stevens’ dissent, parts of which he read aloud in the courtroom.

The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns

For full article: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100121/ap_on_go_su_co/us_supreme_court_campaign_finance

from the Washington Times:

By THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Democrats aren’t satisfied with the one-party state in which they control Congress and the White House and can politicize the Justice Department and take over the banking and automotive industries. Now liberal Democrats are pushing a court-packing scheme as well.

A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the proposed Federal Judgeship Act of 2009 (S. 1653), which would create positions for 63 new federal judges – 51 in federal district courts and 12 in appeals courts. This proposal is nothing less than a sneaky equivalent of what President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried with his infamous court-packing power grab on the Supreme Court in 1937. The only slight difference is that this attempt is more under the radar.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/sep/28/democrats-try-to-pack-the-courts/

     The wise Latina woman appeared on Capitol Hill, and Sen. Leahy began the “dog and pony” show that is being choreographed for the benefit of the American public. But if this process is to be truly sincere, truly honest to the Constitution, then Sen. Lindsey Graham’s statement that “elections have consequences” is false. The young Sen. from Illinois, now the President, didn’t see it that way when he voted against the nomination of Chief Justice John Roberts, not on his record or his qualifications, but because he did not think that Roberts would have the empathy that would be needed to affect social justice.

        From “America’s Right”:

                Voting against the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor will take a wealth of political courage. Giving Sotomayor a rough time with regard to the plethora of reasons why she should not sit on the United States Supreme Court will take even more.

It would be relatively easy for a senator to explain to his or her constituents that he or she look forward to a day when they could vote in favor of confirming a nominee who is both Hispanic and qualified. Explaining why they relentlessly pointed out overt, repeated acts of racism and judicial activism on her part—not to mention the several occasions where her decisions, rooted in a stark dearth of intelligence, were overturned by the Supreme Court—would be slightly more difficult.
 

Here are my questions for the Hon. Sonia Sotomayor:

  1. Is a Hispanic female party more or less likely to bring a bona fide grievance before the Court than a white male party?
  2. If you were in my shoes, and Chief Justice John Roberts were to have said, on several occasions, that he has been able to come to a better decision because of his life experiences and his being a white male judge than, say, a Hispanic or black or Native American female judge could, how fit would you consider him to be objectively adjudicating matters where the legal and constitutional issue, rather than the parties, are of the utmost importance?
  3. Most of your decisions which have reached the Court at which you aspire to sit have been overturned or otherwise scrutinized for your failure to properly interpret the law. With no court to review the Supreme Court, should the American people be confident you’ll get it right?

For the full list and article: http://www.americasright.com/2009/07/law-and-wise-latina.html

Few Quotable Quotes in Sotomayor Opinions; Was Ambition the Reason?

Posted May 27, 2009, 08:42 am CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is known for elaborately detailed opinions—with a couple curious exceptions.

In two hot-button cases involving gun rights and firefighters charging reverse discrimination, the New York-based appeals judge joined in short unsigned opinions, Politico reports.

In one of the cases now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, a three-judge panel of the New York City-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that included Sotomayor issued a “remarkably cursory” unsigned opinion, the New York Times reports in a story highlighting one of the two opinions. Only one paragraph was devoted to reasoning.

In another unsigned opinion, Sotomayor joined with a panel that rejected a Second Amendment challenge to a New York law prohibiting the possession of a martial arts weapon, nunchuks, Politico says. The panel said the U.S. Supreme Court had not made clear in District of Columbia v. Heller whether the individual right to bear arms applied to the states.

Sotomayor’s other opinions, on the other hand, are more detailed, the Times says. They are “marked by diligence, depth and unflashy competence. If they are not always a pleasure to read, they are usually models of modern judicial craftsmanship, which prizes careful attention to the facts in the record and a methodical application of layers of legal principles,” according to the newspaper.

“But they reveal no larger vision, seldom appeal to history and consistently avoid quotable language. Judge Sotomayor’s decisions are, instead, almost always technical, incremental and exhaustive, considering all of the relevant precedents and supporting even completely uncontroversial propositions with elaborate footnotes.”

The Rev. Barry Lynn told Politico he has had trouble learning about Sotomayor’s stance on church-state issues by reading her opinions. He questioned whether the elusiveness is intentional.

“You have to think about your public record and the public trail if you’re going to move up in the judiciary,” he told Politico. “And I think she’s savvy enough to have done so. It is a self-preservation pattern.” He added: “In this contentious era of every nomination becoming a political campaign I can understand why someone would choose to do that.”

The Associated Press has published excerpts from rulings and dissents by Sotomayor, including a ruling that says the government can withhold public funds as a way to favor the anti-abortion position. In a dissent, Sotomayor took a First Amendment position in a police firing case, the Times adds. Sotomayor argued a police officer’s alleged anonymous racist comments were hateful and insulting, but he should be allowed to pursue a suit claiming his firing was unconstitutional.

http://www.abajournal.com/weekly/few_quotable_quotes_in_sotomayor_opinions_was_ambition_the_reason