Although law and ideology are the main factors that impact a judge’s ruling, Adam Liptak reports on a new influencing interest: having a daughter. Writing for The New York Times, Liptak discusses why personal experience is informing the law.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Town of Greece v. Galloway that the First Amendment was not violated when monthly board meetings in Greece, New York were opened with a Christian prayer. In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the ruling would “strike a heavy blow against the nation’s tradition of religious pluralism, and will lead to prayers that will actively promote a single faith’s religious values.” At The Daily Beast, Geoffrey R. Stone, former ACS Board Chair and current Co-Chair of the Board of Advisors for the ACS Chicago Lawyer Chapter as well as Co-Faculty Advisor for the University of Chicago Law School ACS Student Chapter, breaks down the decision. At The Atlantic, Garrett Epps reveals how the court’s decision “shows how far the ground has shifted under the Establishment Clause in the last 30 years” while Dahlia Lithwick at Slate prepares her readers to “get ready for a lot more Jesus in your life.”
In the wake of Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton D. Lockett, the White House “has commissioned yet another study of lethal injections.” Writing for The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen explains why President Obama “would be better off lobbying the Supreme Court and Congress to make changes.”
At The New York Times, Adam Liptak reports on a new study which reveals that Justice Antonin Scalia “voted to uphold the free speech rights of conservative speakers at more than triple the rate of liberal ones” while David S. Joachim reports on the “pivotal” Republican primaries in North Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky and what they could mean for the 2014 midterm elections.
At Womenstake, Michelle Banker comments on a Guttmacher Institute study which shows that “more bills to protect access to abortion have been introduced thus far in 2014 than had been introduced in any year for the past 25 years.”
Justice Antonin Scalia is facing criticism for “flatly misstating core facts from one of his own prior opinions.” In Environmental Protection Agency v. EME Homer City Generation, decided Tuesday, Justice Scalia’s dissent cites to his 2001 opinion in Whitman v. American Trucking Association. However, “the EPA's stance in [Whitman] was the exact opposite of what Scalia said it was in Tuesday’s opinion.” Sahil Kapur at Talking Points Memo highlights an “unusually major mistake” at the high court.
Controversy continues to surround Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton D. Lockett. Erik Eckholm and John Schwartz at The New York Times report on Gov. Mary Fallin’s response to the troubling event “defending the death penalty but order[ing] an independent autopsy of Mr. Lockett and a thorough review of the state’s procedures for lethal injections.” In response to Gov. Fallin’s proposal, the ACLU of Oklahoma stated that the governor’s planned efforts “create a serious conflict of interest” and that the “Attorney General and Governor fought every attempt at transparency or accountability in our execution process.” Steven Erlanger at The New York Times notes the “outrage in Europe over the flawed execution.”
The Honorable Lynn Adelman, U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, ruled that Wisconsin’s state’s voter ID law violated the Fourteenth Amendment and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Ari Berman at The Nation has the story.
Alex Kreit at Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform comments on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s unlawful user law that “makes it a crime for anyone who ‘is an unlawful user of and addicted to a controlled substance’ to possess a firearm.”
New laws throughout the country are restricting access to abortion clinics. In 2013, “22 US states adopted 70 different restrictions on abortion, including late-abortion bans, doctor and clinic regulations, limits on medication abortions, and bans on insurance coverage.” Writing for The Guardian, Erika L. Sánchez explains why those who can’t reverse Roe v. Wade are “focusing on generating enough red tape to shut down as many abortion facilities as possible.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is preparing for oral argument in a case challenging Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban. Similar to Utah’s controversial law at issue in Kitchen v. Herbert, Oklahoma’s law “prohibits gay couples from marrying and prevents the state government from recognizing such unions performed anywhere else.” Emma Margolin at MSNBC breaks down Bishop v. Oklahoma.
Writing for The New York Times, ACS Board Member Linda Greenhouse breaks down McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission and its “indecent burial” of campaign finance.
Tonight on C-SPAN, Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia will discuss the First Amendment and “the contemporary meaning of freedom.”
As was widely expected the Supreme Court’s conservative justices appeared sympathetic to a wealthy businessman’s complaint about federal restrictions on overall contributions individuals can give directly to candidates. The limits described as aggregate limits are intended to prevent corruption of democracy.
But Alabama businessman, Shaun McCutcheon, and the Republican National Committee are urging the high court to set aside such limits, saying they subvert free speech rights. McCutcheon told The Times last week that Americans need to spend more, not less on politics. But in reality only a tiny few have the resources to spend the kind of money McCutcheon has and wants to on politics.
Nevertheless, the conservative justices, especially Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, showed little confidence in U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s argument that aggregate contribution limits, help prevent corruption of democracy.
“Aggregate limits combat corruption both by blocking circumvention of individual contribution limits and, equally fundamentally, by serving as a bulwark against a campaign finance system dominated by massive individual contributions in which the dangers of quid pro quo corruption would be obvious and inherent and the corrosive appearance of corruptions would be overwhelming,” Verrilli said during oral argument in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.
Later, Verrilli acknowledged that the aggregate limits might restrict an individual like McCutcheon from making direct contributions to a certain number of candidates. But that limit Verrilli continued would not stifle McCutcheon’s First Amendment rights. For he could still funnel money into groups that help advance those candidates. “Mr. McCutcheon,” Verrilli said, “can spend as much of his considerable fortune as he wants on independent expenditures advocating for the election of these candidates.”
If the conservative justices vote to erase or greatly weaken limits on overall contributions, it would as The New York Times Adam Liptak notes “represent a fundamental reassessment of a basic distinction in Buckley v. Valeo in 1976, which said contributions may be regulated more strictly than expenditures because of their potential for corruption.”
Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer said in a press statement that if the contribution limits are invalidated in McCutcheon “we are bound to see the $1 million and $2 million contributions that would be permitted by such a decision used by influence-seeking donors to corrupt government decisions.”
He urged the high court to “not empower the wealthy few to buy the government that belongs to all Americans by striking down longstanding contribution limits that protect citizens against corruption.”