• February 6, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    On Wednesday, President Obama nominated Waverly D. Crenshaw Jr. and Lawrence Joseph Vilardo to serve on the United States District Courts. Crenshaw is nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, and Vilardo is nominated to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. These are the first announcements of judicial nominees for 2015.

    Jonathan Bernstein asserts at Bloomberg View that it is time for the Republican Senate to make the first confirmation of 2015. “[I]t’s important for the government to function smoothly, and that means filling vacancies,” writes Bernstein.

    Judiciary Committee members in the House and Senate have introduced a bill that aims to stop sue-and-settle regulation, reports The Hill. Thirty-five groups, including the Alliance for Justice, have published an open letter urging Congress to ensure that citizens can stand up for their rights in court.

    Lawmakers are still considering whether to change Senate rules so that Supreme Court nominees could be confirmed with a simple majority, reports The Wall Street Journal. James Downie at The Washington Post warns Senate Democrats to be careful about their filibuster strategy and response to these proposed changes.

    There are currently 45 vacancies, and 13 are now considered judicial emergencies. There are 14 pending nominees. For more information see

  • February 5, 2015

    by Nanya Springer

    Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during a discussion yesterday prominently highlighted the deleterious consequences of the Court’s Citizens United decision. When asked at a Georgetown Law event which decision in the past 10 years she would most like to overturn, she responded, “I would have to say Citizens United, because I think that our system is being polluted by money.”

    Ginsburg continued, “It gets pretty bad when it affects the judiciary too. In some 39 states, judges are elected at some level, and when it costs millions of dollars to fund a campaign for a state supreme court, something is terribly wrong. I think we are reaching the saturation point.”

    What Ginsburg references is the well-documented flood of money that has saturated both political and state judicial campaigns since the Supreme Court struck down restrictions on corporate campaign contributions five years ago. One result of this monetary deluge has been harsher treatment of criminal defendants by state supreme court justices. (See the recent ACS report “Skewed Justice” for more on this matter.)

    Ginsburg’s comments touched on an additional cost of astronomical campaign spending: its negative effect on the psyche of the American voter. “One of the really shameful things is the low rate of voting in the United States,” she said.  “In many democracies, the turnout is much higher. The people have a sense -- ‘Why bother?’ It’s a foregone conclusion who is going to win.”

    As Ginsburg put it, it’s time that we reestablish “a democracy for all of the people.” Read a transcript or watch video of of the discussion here. See this post for more commentary and analysis of Citizens United.

  • February 5, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    Rebecca Traister in a compelling piece for The New Republic takes on policies in the United States punish working women who have children.

    At Slate, Jamelle Bouie writes that Republicans would be content to watch the Affordable Care act fail if the Supreme Court rules against the law.

    Linda Greenhouse in The New York Times explains that the nature of the Supreme Court would change should the justices decide to gut the Affordable Care Act.

    At Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams reports on Missouri’s new attempts to tighten abortion restrictions that expand on the state’s existing “informed consent” policy.

    In The Chicago Tribune, Melissa Harris discusses Justice Elena Kagan’s appearance at the University of Chicago Law School. 

  • February 4, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    In USA Today, Richard Wolf writes about the Justices’ different views on statutory interpretation and how they could impact King v. Burwell.

    Garrett Epps discusses the flawed argument against the Affordable Care Act at The Atlantic using the analogy of a poor reading of the Harry Potter series.

    Sahil Kapur examines at Talking Points Memo how the Senate could kill the Supreme Court filibuster

    At The Economist, Steven Mazie considers how some states are making same-sex marriage “a matter of religious conscience” in order to lessen the sting of a Supreme Court ruling on the issue.

    In The New York Times, William Baude argues that the Court should be more transparent in its orders as such transparency “is vital to its continued legacy.”

  • February 3, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    In The New York Times, Adam Liptak considers the ideological gap between judges and lawyers.  

    Brian Beutler reports in The New Republic that a new brief to the Supreme Court from public health scholars discusses the human cost of striking down the Affordable Care Act.

    At the Huffington Post, Sam Stein and Jeffrey Young examine the inconsistences in the most recent Republican attacks against the Affordable Care Act.

    Thomas Albright and Jed Rakoff argue in The Washington Post that the legal system should rely less on  eyewitness testimony, which research shows is often faulty.

    Susanne Dubleton writes in Truthout about the “chaotic tedium” of the death penalty.