ABA Journal: “Brigantti-Hughes had obtained permission to hold a Bible study and prayer group during lunch hour at the courthouse, but the requests for staff prayers were made at other times during regular business hours, the determination says.”
Politico: “Monday’s expected confirmation of Robert Wilkins to the D.C. Circuit Court will be the latest judicial win for the White House — not just because he’s the third of the three nominees the president announced in June to increase pressure on Senate Republicans, but because he’s the 41st African-American Obama’s gotten confirmed for the bench.”
Des Moines Register: “Graduates of Iowa’s two law schools could begin practicing law in the state soon after graduation rather than waiting until they pass the bar exam, under a proposal before the Iowa Supreme Court.”
George Will, writing in the Washington Post: “On Monday, the Supreme Court’s nine fine minds will hear oral arguments about the meaning of ‘the’ and ‘happen.’ What they decide could advance the urgent project of reining in rampant executive power.”
Blog of the Legal Times: The Senate is expected to confirm U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins to a key Washington federal appeals court Monday afternoon. The Senate voted 55-38 . . .
NRO Bench Memos: As Ed has previously noted, next Wednesday the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in McCullen v. Coakley, which presents the question of whether the First Amendment permits a state to forbid pro-life counselors and others from peacefully talking to women on a public sidewalk within 35 feet of an abortion clinic.
John McGinnis & Michael Rappaport at Volokh Conspiracy: Frequently, it is argued that the problem with originalism is that it forces us to be governed by an old Constitution that is out of date. We think that this claim gets it backwards: nonoriginalism impedes the Constitution from being improved through the amendment process.
Richard Wolf at USA Today: Issues ranging from same-sex marriage to legislative prayer also have offered justices a difficult question: How much weight should be given to centuries of historical practices?
NY Times: With his strong-armed change to the filibuster rule and an iron-fisted control of the Senate floor, Senator Harry Reid has engaged in the greatest consolidation of congressional power since Newt Gingrich ruled the House, unleashing a bitterness that may derail efforts to extend unemployment insurance.
Tex Parte Blog: It’s a new year in Washington, D.C. Back on Dec. 19, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated his first Texan, U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa of Galveston (pictured), to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Today, despite U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s massive differences with the president over just about everything, the Lone Star State’s senior senator blessed that nomination.
Blog of the Legal Times: The Senate Judiciary Committee renewed its push to confirm a long slate of judicial nominees today, but the 29 judges set for a vote today will have to wait another week.
Fox News: Republicans claim the Justice Department’s investigation of the IRS targeting scandal is “compromised,” after revealing that it’s being led by one of President Obama’s political supporters.
WorldNetDaily: “By abandoning any meaningful standard for the substantiality of an intrastate activity’s effects on interstate commerce, this court has enabled the Congress to ‘draw the circle broadly enough to cover’ activity, that when viewed in isolation, would have no substantial effect on interstate commerce at all,” representatives for the 12 states have told the high court.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: U.S. District Court nominee James D. Peterson of Wisconsin assured a Senate committee Wednesday his past work on behalf of the Freedom From Religion Foundation would play no role in his actions as a federal judge.
Wall Street Journal (via Google): But the larger legal issue here is whether Supreme Court precedents mean anything, or if lower-court judges can pick and choose the ones they want to follow. We hope the Justices issue a return volley.
Montgomery Advertiser: Civil rights advocates are encouraging President Barack Obama to nominate an African-American to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which would be a first from Alabama.
“Fraternal Order of Police Sends Scathing Letter to Obama Opposing ‘Race-Baiting’ Civil Rights Nominee”
Townhall: President Obama has nominated attorney Debo Adegbile to head the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Adegbile has a long history of advocating for the release of unrepentant and convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
News.Delaware.gov: Governor Markell today announced the nomination of Chancellor Leo E. Strine, Jr. to serve as the eighth Chief Justice of Delaware’s Supreme Court. If confirmed by the Delaware Senate, Chancellor Strine will succeed the Honorable Myron Steele as the highest ranking member of the state’s judiciary.
John McGinnis & Michael Rappaport at Volokh Conspiracy: We propose a third theory of how to determine the original meaning (or, put differently, a gloss on the other two theories): original methods originalism. We believe the more accurate way to determine the original meaning of the Constitution is to employ the interpretive rules that the Framers’ generation would have deemed applicable to the Constitution.
Miami Herald: “The nomination of Judge William Thomas was returned by the Senate and Senator Rubio has made his objection clear, so the President chose not to renominate him,” a White House aide told the Tampa Bay Times.
Heritage Foundation (includes video): A Conspiracy Against Obamacare details how legal bloggers at the Volokh Conspiracy engaged in a spirited, erudite, and accessible discussion of the legal issues involved in the debate over the Affordable Care Act. This debate was one of the most important and public examinations of the Constitution in our history.
AP: The Obama administration is issuing new recommendations on classroom discipline that seek to end the apparent disparities in how students of different races are punished for violating school rules.
Weekly Standard: President Obama’s Department of Justice has admitted it cannot prove that Louisiana school choice is violating desegregation efforts, yet it continues to seek the ability to tell a parent their child cannot escape a failing school because their child is not the “right” race.
Karen Sloan at National Law Journal: The American Bar Association proposal to eliminate its tenure requirement for law schools drew a hostile reception during the Association of American Law School’s annual meeting in New York over the weekend.
Blog of the Legal Times: Only one of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominations has a clear path to Senate confirmation this year—U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins, nominated to a key Washington federal appeals court.
John McGinnis & Michael Rappaport at Volokh Conspiracy: We can summarize our argument in three simple propositions. First, stringent supemajority rules provide the best way to make a national constitution. Second, the United States Constitution was enacted mainly under such rules. Third, it is the original meaning that was enacted under those supermajority rules and therefore it is that meaning that should be followed today.
William C. Duncan at National Review: This morning, just a few minutes after the last submission from the State of Utah had been received, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a stay of a trial-court judge’s mandate that marriage licenses be issued to same-sex couples.
Blog of the Legal Times: Clement appeared on Capitol Hill today next to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who filed a federal lawsuit today challenging an Office of Personnel Management rule regarding health coverage for members of Congress and staff.
Cortney O’Brien at Townhall: While the process may seem cumbersome, a recent report from Arizona revealed that these abortion-granting court orders are fairly simple to obtain. Judges approved nearly 75 percent of judicial bypass requests. Jason Walsh, the executive director of Arizona Right to Life, responded to the alarming statistic.
Profs. John McGinnis & Michael Rappaport at the Volokh Conspiracy: We are very happy to be blogging at the Volokh Conspiracy about our new book, Originalism and the Good Constitution, which has just been published by Harvard University Press. We want to thank both Eugene and the other Conspirators for the opportunity to offer our views on originalism.
Stephen Wermiel at SCOTUS Blog: Noticeably absent from the Supreme Court’s line-up of high-profile decisions in recent Terms is the issue of abortion. Presumably it is just a matter of time.
Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic: Last year’s big legal stories, its constitutional themes, won’t recede as quickly as other big legal stories and themes have seemed to fade over the years. Americans will continue to fight over same-sex marriage, voting rights, affirmative action, and many other issues (like the provision of health care) that involve the essence of equality.
The Hill: West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey wrote the letter, which was signed by his counterparts in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia.
Unauthorized Class Action Sought Millions For Denial of Religious Freedom and Right To Marry By Utah and LDS Church
Religion Clause Blog: The complaint (full text) in Winburn v. State of Utah, (D UT, filed Dec. 27, 2013), describes the LDS Church as “an entity of defendant State of Utah,” and alleges violations of the Fair Debt Collection Act, the Utah Pattern of Unlawful Activity Act and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It seeks damages of at least $25,000 for each class member.
Todd Zywicki at Volokh Conspiracy: For private schools, these data are difficult to uncover, but the University of Baltimore report corroborates a widely held view that universities in general impose a “tax” amounting to between 20 and 25 percent of their law schools’ gross revenues.
San Francisco Chronicle: Legal reporters with time on their hands sometimes leaf through U.S. Supreme Court rulings and see things they’ve never noticed before. Like Justice Samuel Alito’s putdown of San Francisco’s former chief federal judge, Vaughn Walker, for his ruling on same-sex marriage.
Deseret News: Just moments after being sworn in Monday, Attorney General Sean Reyes told reporters the state is ready to file a request with the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay in the federal court ruling striking down Amendment 3.
Mark Walsh at ABA Journal: In NLRB v. Noel Canning, the justices will consider whether the president’s recess-appointment power applies to intersession or intrasession position vacancies, or both.
Las Vegas Review Journal: The strength of incumbency is enormous, but it seems to be the most powerful when it involves the Nevada Supreme Court. The two justices up for re-election are not expected to draw any opponents in 2014.
Deseret News: The essence of judicial tyranny is when a single, unelected federal judge declares the laws and constitution of an entire state null and void with an opinion clothed in the barest of legal precedent. Late on Friday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby overstepped judicial bounds, ignored the weight of settled precedent and insulted Utah’s electorate by striking down Amendment 3 to Utah’s Constitution, the provision that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
Russell Wheeler at the Brookings Institute: Changing Composition of Court of Appeals Obama, in terms of the party of the president who appointed circuit judges in active status, has not able to put as much of an imprint on the courts of appeals as did Bush by the end of his fifth year. Obama had a circuit confirmation rate about the same as Bush’s, but Bush inherited an appellate judiciary split evenly between Republican and Democratic appointees, with 26 vacancies. He was able by the end of 2005 to shift that split to 59 percent Republican appoints (and 60 percent by the end of eight years). Obama inherited that 60-40 split. At the end of 2013 it slightly tilted to Democratic appointees (52% to 48%). (Table 12) In 2009, seven courts of appeals had a majority of Republican appointees among their active status judges. Today, seven of them have Democratic-appointee majorities.
Robert Barnes at Washington Post: “It takes real cheek for today’s majority to assure us, as it is going out the door, that a constitutional requirement to give formal recognition to same-sex marriage is not at issue here,” Scalia wrote.
NY Times: For a judge who would go on to make same-sex marriage legal in Utah, a deep-red state where streets in the capital are numbered by their distance from the Mormon temple, Robert J. Shelby arrived on the bench with enthusiastic praise from Republican leaders.
KSL.com: The price tag for hiring outside counsel to defend Utah’s voter-approved constitutional amendment on marriage is expected to be close to $2 million, money that key GOP lawmakers are willing to spend.
National Law Journal: The University of Kansas School of Law must pay a $50,000 fine for admitting two foreign attorneys into a new LL.M. program that the ABA had not approved.
Daily Journal (AP): White House officials said in a statement Thursday that U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Georgia, Julie E. Carnes, has been nominated to serve in the court of appeals.
Dallas Morning News: Ending a long drought for Texas judicial picks, President Obama has decided to elevate federal judge Gregg Costa of Galveston to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a White House aide said Thursday.
The Hill: Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Thursday criticized Senate Democrats for moving to confirm a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official who is currently under investigation for abusing his current position, something the Senate was preparing to do early Friday morning.
Maureen O’Connor of OH Supreme Court at LA Times: One of the top federal appeals courts this month took a major step forward in opening the historically opaque federal judicial system to the public by expanding the use of cameras. When will the Supreme Court follow suit and finally allow cameras in its courtroom?
The Hill: Senate Republicans will let their rank-and-file members leave town for the Christmas break, leaving Democrats to vote around the clock to confirm the latest batch of President Obama’s nominees.
George F. Will at Washington Post: To contend that the obligation imposed on the president to see the laws faithfully executed implies a power to forbid their execution is a novel construction of the Constitution, and is entirely inadmissible.”
USA Today: Obenshain’s concession means Democrats in Virginia will now hold all statewide offices for the first time since 1970, in a sign that there is more blue being injected into the swing state’s purple tinge.
Ilya Somin at Volokh Conspiracy: The University of Chicago Law Review recently posted its online symposium on the work of Judge Robert Bork, who passed away last year. The symposium includes essays by several prominent legal scholars, including Steven Calabresi, Bradford Clark, Richard Epstein, John Harrison, Kurt Lash, John McGinnis, and John Yoo. My own contribution, “The Borkean Dilemma: Robert Bork and the Tension Between Originalism and Democracy,” is available here.
Blog of the Legal Times: In the case Hodge v. Talkin, the department is urging the circuit court to restore the law banning assemblages, processions and displays on court property, 40 U.S.C. 6135.
National Law Journal: According to figures released by the American Bar Association, law schools enrolled 39,675 new students this fall—an 11 percent decrease from the 44,481 students who enrolled last fall.
The Hill: Stinging from Senate Democrats’ gutting of the filibuster, Senate Republicans will use their private caucus lunch Tuesday to decide on their strategy for holding back a string of nominees.
Religion Clause Blog: In Canada, Trinity Western University, a Christian liberal arts university in British Columbia, cleared a major hurdle this week in its bid to open the country’s first private religious law school. In a December 16 press release, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada announced that it has granted preliminary approval for the school’s program
AP: Herbert says while he had not had a chance to review U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups’ ruling, he’s “always a little concerned” when public policy changes are made by the courts.
NRO Bench Memos: While you were (hopefully) sleeping last night, the Senate voted 51–44 to confirm the nomination of Cornelia Pillard, one of President Obama’s most controversial judicial nominees. Red-state Democrats had to make a choice at the vote shortly before 1 a.m.: Would they represent their constituents at home, or continue to vote in lockstep with the president under cover of night?
Blog of the Legal Times: The Senate confirmed Georgetown University Law Center professor Cornelia “Nina” Pillard to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit early this morning, amid escalating political bickering over a rules change that allowed for the vote. The 51-44 vote finished at about 1:15 a.m. . . .
One News Now: “The court of appeals in the D.C. Circuit is one of the most powerful courts in the nation because it gets to pass upon the rules that come out of the Executive Branch, all of the administration’s rulings and opinions,” explains attorney Harry Mihet of Liberty Counsel.
Nebraska Judicial Commission won’t investigate judge who told 16 year old abortion would “kill the child inside you”
JournalStar.com: The state commission that oversees judges has refused to investigate one who told a 16-year-old state ward seeking to terminate her pregnancy that having an abortion would “kill the child inside you.”
AP: President Barack Obama’s choice to head the Internal Revenue Service goes before a Senate committee Tuesday to face tough questions about the agency’s targeting of tea party groups and its ability to administer parts of the president’s health law.
National Review Bench Memos: For starters, the filibuster is a red herring. Cohen claims “dozens” of Obama nominees have been stopped by the filibuster; in fact, there have been only eight successful filibusters during all of Obama’s tenure in the White House, for six different nominees. One of those was later confirmed. That’s a total of five nominees blocked by the filibuster. Meanwhile, 209 Obama nominees have been confirmed.
USCourts.gov: Twenty-five years ago, computers were hurtling America into the Information Age. From 1987 to 1989, the nation’s PC sales tripled, as consumers gained unprecedented power to process words, crunch numbers and print documents at home. The World Wide Web was still being invented, but early adopters were discovering personal email.