Related Newswires Articles on the Supreme Court – Huffington Post


Newswire Updates from the Huffington Post:

Specter’s Supreme Court Recommendations: Four Women Who Are Not Judges
from The Huffington Post | Legal Times

Sen. Arlen Specter has given his list to President Barack Obama.

The former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said today that Obama had asked him to name some possible successors to Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court. And Specter (D-Pa.) said he has complied, though in speaking with reporters he would only hint at the people he suggested.

“I submitted four names — all women, and none who owns a black robe,” Specter said after a speech to the American Law Institute at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel.

He did not elaborate on whom he recommended. There are three female non-judges among those reported to be on Obama’s short list: Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Specter said he expects to be very involved in the Senate confirmation process for Obama’s choice, despite losing his seniority on the Judiciary Committee after he switched to the Democratic Party a month ago. Under the rules by which senators question a witness, Specter could be the last member of the committee to face off with the nominee.

Diane Wood, Supreme Court Prospect: A Definitive Take
from The Huffington Post | by Jason Linkins

About two weeks ago, I criticized Jeffrey Rosen for a profile of potential Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Purporting to be “The Case Against Sotomayor,” the article was over-reliant on unnamed sources and included an admission that her opinions had not been studied to the degree necessary “to have a confident sense of them.” At the time, I could hardly believe that Rosen would have tolerated a similar article – cloaked in anonymity, without regard for his actual writing – directed at himself. As it turned out, there was a bit of a pile on, then a response from Rosen, and then a second round of criticism. Now we have the second profile of a potential nominee from Rosen, and it should be stated – the major deficiencies of the Sotomayor piece are not repeated.

Rosen’s latest, a profile on Judge Diane Wood titled “The Conciliator,” is — first and foremost — replete with on the record sources. And while it relies heavily on the faculty of the University of Chicago’s law school, Rosen still manages to capture Wood in a nice diversity of settings — you get a feel for Wood’s courtroom demeanor, and her classroom inquisitiveness. Her passion for teaching and service is well depicted in a trip abroad to India. And the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary which Rosen cited in his response to the Sotomayor profile, but not in the profile, is properly referenced here.

Secondly, the piece is not the over-reaching “Case Against” that the first one claimed to be despite its admissions of inadequacy. Although it should be said, this piece may swing too far in the other direction, as a potential “Case For” Wood. I find Rosen’s piece to nevertheless be far less definitive. And if it is declarative, Rosen at least puts himself in the picture, as opposed to letting unnamed sources run wild. Rosen notes his “enthusiastic” advocacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s nomination (“Of all the candidates Clinton considered,” Rosen says, “Ginsburg was the most respected by liberals and conservatives and the most likely to win over the swing justices.”) and sets about making a comparison to Wood:

When Clinton appointed Wood to the appellate court, she was little known outside the legal academy–unlike Ginsburg at the time of her appellate nomination. I lamented the fact that Clinton was not appointing more “legal scholars with national reputations”–scholars “of the caliber of Ginsburg and Breyer, his superb Supreme Court nominees,” in order to create a deep bench of “liberal intellectuals who could challenge the conservatives.” (Indeed, if President Clinton had appointed to the appellate courts scholars such as Stanford’s Pam Karlan and Kathleen Sullivan, both of whom would make stellar justices, President Obama might find it easier today to appoint them to the Supreme Court.)

But I underestimated Wood. After nearly 14 years on the appellate court, she has proved to be such an impressive match for her conservative colleagues that it appears that, of all the current Supreme Court candidates, her temperament and moderate, incremental liberalism most resemble Ginsburg’s.

There’s one other thing that bears mention. Ever since President Barack Obama broached the subject of empathy, there’s been a lot of discussion about it in the news and among politicians, most of it being shallow nonsense from wide-eyed simpletons. Rosen, to my mind, finds a couple different ways of demonstrating how empathy actually should be a part of the discussion, and how it actually works in the hands of a judge:

“She is very careful, she is respectful of precedent, she is a craftsperson, and she is fairly incremental in her approach,” says Geoffrey Stone of the University of Chicago and the author of a book on the suppression of speech during war. “I think she does believe that the role of judges, in part, is to ensure that the oppressed and the disenfranchised and dissenters get a fair shake in the political system, which would be a significant part of the moderate liberal element of Diane. But she’s certainly not in any way result-oriented.”

I think that Rosen does a fine job, advancing the virtues of empathy here — and a good job distinguishing between the consideration for others that informs judgment with the need for an end product that passes legal muster. Time — and subsequent profiles — will determine if criticism has altered Rosen’s approach or if this profile reads differently simply because its subject is a candidate who Rosen clearly favors. Nevertheless, it can be fairly stated that Rosen has gone to great lengths to avoid the more glaring sins of the Sotomayor piece.

Sessions: Obama’s Court Nominees No Longer Get “Powerful Deference”
from The Huffington Post | by Sam Stein

The rationale is gradually being put in place for Republicans to mount a filibuster of Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

On Sunday, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeff Sessions, suggested that the country had moved to a place “in which there is not as much deference” — “this automatic powerful deference” — given to the President’s Supreme Court nominees as in the past. Earlier, he refused to “rule out” using a filibuster.

“I have not favored a filibuster,” said the Alabama Republican during an appearance on C-SPAN Newsmakers. “I opposed two nominees in the Clinton years aggressively. Trent Lott said it was time to bring it up for a vote. I voted for cloture to give them a final vote because I did not favor a filibuster technique… But you remember the gang of fourteen? The Democrats were filibustering Bush nominees and they said ‘well, in extraordinary circumstances but only in those circumstances should you justify a filibuster.’ Maybe that’s the new standard. It’s not in concrete but that may be the standard that is used in the future.”

The comments from Sessions were mirrored by those offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who appeared on Fox News Sunday.

Senate Republicans: We Probably Won’t Be Able To Derail Obama Court Pick
from The Huffington Post | New York Times

While there is growing anticipation that the summer will bring the spectacle of a pitched Supreme Court confirmation battle, some Senate Republicans are lowering expectations that they are planning any major political fight.

President Obama has not yet named his choice to succeed Justice David H. Souter, but several Republicans acknowledge that it is unlikely they will be able to derail the nomination absent some startling revelation about the candidate.

Those Republicans, including senior staff aides and some senators, suggested in interviews that they believed Mr. Obama’s first nominee for the court would be confirmed without great difficulty no matter how they framed the issues during the confirmation process.

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, has said he would not necessarily be opposed to a nominee who is gay or an abortion rights advocate. In a recent interview, Mr. Sessions made it clear that whatever his preferences for resistance on the nominee, he could count the numbers.

“Well, the Democrats have a strong majority on the committee,” he said, referring to the fact that with Senator Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party, the majority increased to 12 to 7, from 11 to 8.

Conservatives Map Strategies To Fight Against Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee
from The Huffington Post | NY Times

Preparing to oppose the confirmation of Mr. Obama’s eventual choice to succeed Justice David H. Souter, who is retiring, conservative groups are working together to stockpile ammunition. Ten memorandums summarizing their research, obtained by The New York Times, provide a window onto how they hope to frame the coming debate.

Alberto Gonzales: Empathetic Judges “Dangerous”
from The Huffington Post | Think Progress

Following Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s announcement that he planned to retire, conservatives have attacked and mocked President Obama’s statement that he is seeking a replacement who has “empathy” for “the daily realities of people’s lives.” “I’ll give you empathy. Empathize right on your behind!” bellowed RNC Chairman Michael Steele last Friday.

Now, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is getting in on the act. Appearing on NPR’s Tell Me More yesterday, Gonzales claimed that he is “worried” that judges with empathy would make “decisions based on what they think makes them feel good”:

GONZALES: I do worry a little bit, well, I worry, I worry about about justices on the court making decisions based on what they think makes them feel good. I don’t think it’s fair to expect society to anticipate the outcome of a case based upon what makes a justice feel good. In essence what you’re saying, I think, is that I’m going to, I don’t care what the law says, I’m going to come out, I’m going to pursue an outcome that I think is fair and just. I’m going to rewrite the law. And I think that’s dangerous.

Obama’s Supreme Court Pick: Has More Than 6 On List
from The Huffington Post

A source tells The Associated Press that President Barack Obama is considering California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno and more than five other people as nominees for the Supreme Court.

An official familiar with Obama’s decision-making said others include Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Appeals Court judges Sonia Sotomayor and Diane Pamela Wood _ people who have been mentioned frequently as potential candidates.

The official said there were other people under consideration. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no names have been publicly revealed by the White House.

Obama Supreme Court Meeting Being Held With Top Senators
from Huffington Post – AP | Ben Feller

Before the court comes the courting.

President Barack Obama, zeroing on his first nomination to the Supreme Court, is reaching out Wednesday to senators he knows can set the tone and pace of the upcoming confirmation.

The president will meet at the White House with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

Already, Obama has made clear he wants a nominee who not only is schooled in the law but passionate about how it affects people’s lives, a scholar willing to decide a case from the heart when the constitutional answer is elusive. In many ways, he wants someone like himself.

Obama also wants his nominee to get through Senate vetting, hearings and voting before Congress breaks in August so the matter isn’t left exposed for the last month of summer. The timetable would ensure the new justice is seated for the next court term in October.

Mitchell Bard: In Choosing Souter’s Replacement, Obama Should Follow the Lead of … George W. Bush?
from Huffington Post.com by Mitchell Bard

If someone asked me what was the single most important thing I learned in law school, it would take me all of a nanosecond to answer: U.S. Supreme Court justices are far more powerful in shaping American society than the average person realizes. As these officials are appointed and not elected, and serve for life, the selection of a justice to the Court is one of the most important decisions a president will make during his time in office.

As a former constitutional law instructor at one of the top law schools in the country, I have full confidence that President Obama understands the immense importance of selecting the right replacement for David Souter. My hope is that as he goes through the process, he uses as his guide the most unlikely of mentors: George W. Bush.

Nan Aron: What Can We Expect Now That Sessions Leads Republicans on Judges?
from the HuffingtonPost.com by Nan Aron

With Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) switching to the Democratic Party, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has taken over as the ranking Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He will lead the charge on the Republican response to Obama’s judicial and executive branch nominations.

Who is Senator Sessions?

He’s has been an outspoken opponent of the Voting Rights Act (though he did vote to extend it in 2006), immigration reform, embryonic stem cell research, and a woman’s right to choose.

He has sided with the most conservative members of his party on foreign affairs, taxes and social legislation.

Sessions was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama by President Reagan in 1981 and served for 12 years. He achieved notoriety for prosecuting African Americans for vote fraud in 1984. The prosecutions ended in acquittals.

Diane Wood, Potential Obama Supreme Court Nominee, In Spotlight On Religious Symbols Case
from The Huffington Post News Editors

On its face, the so-called mezuzah case sparks an interesting question: Does a condo association violate owners’ civil rights by banning religious symbols from a unit’s front door?

But the answer to that question could get even more attention this week because one of the judges who will answer it is being touted to fill the upcoming vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

White House: No Supreme Court Nominee Next Week
from The Huffington Post News Editors

The White House says President Barack Obama’s announcement of a Supreme Court nominee is not imminent.

Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs on Friday ruled out the possibility that Obama’s decision would be unveiled next week.

Gibbs said Obama is at the beginning of the process of deciding on a replacement for Justice David Souter. Souter is retiring in June.

Yet aides also say the White House process of gathering names of potential candidates for the high court began even before Obama took office in January.

Obama wants to have a nominee confirmed by the Supreme Court session that will start in October. He is in the midst of consulting with senators.

Hatch: Kagan And Sotomayor Would Present “Real Dilemma” To Oppose
from The Huffington Post News Editors

A top Republican Senator on the Judiciary committee suggested on Thursday that two of the people widely believed to be under consideration for a Supreme Court appointment would present “a real dilemma” for his party to oppose.

During an interview with Scott Hennen, a conservative North Dakota radio host, former Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch praised Solicitor General Elena Kagan for having a “brilliant” legal mind, and called Sonia Sotomayor, a judge on the second circuit Court of Appeals, a liberal but “tough prospect.”

“You have to admit Elena Kagan is a brilliant woman,” said the Utah Republican. “She is a brilliant lawyer. If he picks her, it is a real dilemma for people. And she will undoubtedly say that she will abide by the rule of law. Sonia Sotomayor probably the same thing.”

Dems Give Specter Judiciary Subcommittee Chair
from The Huffington Post News Editors

Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter gained a Judiciary subcommittee chairmanship but also a potential primary challenger Thursday, the latest twists in a turbulent episode of party switching.

The good news-bad news day for Specter didn’t stop there.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge announced he would not challenge Specter next year. Ridge, a moderate Republican and the first homeland security chief, had been running about even against Specter in a hypothetical general election race, according to a recent poll.

Lawmakers Press For Second Black Justice
from The Huffington Post News Editors

The Congressional Black Caucus is launching a campaign to persuade President Obama to appoint one of their members to the Supreme Court seat that will be vacated by Justice David Souter.

Sessions: Gay Supreme Court Nominee “Would Be A Big Concern”
from The Huffington Post News Editors

Yesterday morning, Jeff Sessions made news after he appeared on Morning Joe and said, of the pending SCOTUS nomination, “I don’t think a person who acknowledges that they have gay tendencies is disqualified per se for the job.” These remarks were then widely reported, because MY GOD! Gay tendencies no longer disqualify people for jobs PER SE. Is this what all the major civil rights victories of the 1960s felt like? Hollow and vaguely disingenuous?

Before we get caught up too much in Sessions’ titanic magnanimity — which was echoed later in the day by Focus On The Family, whose statement (“The issue is not their sexual orientation. It’s whether they are a good judge or not”) has me looking for wires — we should ask ourselves: would it be okay to discuss another subset of Americans in this manner? Actually, before you lose yourself in contemplation (the short answer, however, is “no”), ask yourself this: “Isn’t it telling that Sessions couldn’t keep to his “Gay is OK” script for even half a day?

Hatch: Kagan And Sotomayor Would Present “Real Dilemma” To Oppose
from The Huffington Post News Editors

A top Republican Senator on the Judiciary committee suggested on Thursday that two of the people widely believed to be under consideration for a Supreme Court appointment would present “a real dilemma” for his party to oppose.

During an interview with Scott Hennen, a conservative North Dakota radio host, former Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch praised Solicitor General Elena Kagan for having a “brilliant” legal mind, and called Sonia Sotomayor, a judge on the second circuit Court of Appeals, a liberal but “tough prospect.”

Michael Steele: “Empathize Right On Your Behind!”
from The Huffington Post News Editors

While guest hosting Bill Bennett’s radio show Friday, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele gave his own perspective on whether a Supreme Court Justice should have “empathy.” President Obama said on the campaign trail that it was a quality he would look for in a nominee. Via ThinkProgress:

“Good morning y’all, we’re back in the house. We’re talking a little bit of Constitution and a little bit Supreme Court. And a whole lot of saving America’s judicial system and saving our rights as citizens and not having empathetic judges decide cases, but rather judges who are actually understanding the rule of law and what the Constitution and those laws are all about. And how to apply the facts to the law and the law to the facts. And adjudicate my case. I don’t need some judge sitting up there feeling bad for my opponent because of their life circumstances or their condition. And short changing me and my opportunity to get fair treatment under the law. Crazy nonsense empathetic. I’ll give you empathy. Empathize right on your behind. Craziness.”

Michael Steele on ’empathy’: ‘I’ll give you empathy. Empathize right on your behind.’

Bill Bennett’s radio show, 5/8/09


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