Importance of the Courts

  • July 13, 2018

    by Alan Neff

    In due course, Judge Brett Kavanaugh will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for questioning by Senators on his nomination by President Trump to the Supreme Court. If confirmed as a Justice, among the important questions he might face will be these, which concern the President’s possible personal exposure to criminal prosecution or civil liability for his conduct before or during his presidency:

  • July 11, 2018

    by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and founding director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Penn State Law - University Park*

    On June 26, 2018 the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in Trump v. Hawaii. The majority opinion was issued by Chief Justice John Roberts and involved the legality of a proclamation known as the “travel ban.” Two earlier versions of the ban were issued as executive orders were challenged successfully in court and then either were revoked or expired.

    The Immigration and Nationality Act was passed by Congress in 1952 and has been compared second in complication to the US tax code. In all three versions of the ban, the President relied on a section of the immigration statute known as Section 1182(f), which allows a president to suspend the entry of any noncitizen or class of noncitizens if such entry “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” When Congress amended the statute in 1965, it removed the national-origin-based quotas and created a nondiscrimination clause in Section 1152(a) to underscore that “no person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.” Both sections 1182(f) and 1152(a) are relevant to Hawaii v. Trump.

  • July 10, 2018

    by Joel Goldstein

    President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, has impressive credentials and intellect but those traits mark simply the beginning of an appropriate and normal assessment of the qualifications a Supreme Court nominee.  Confirmation for a Supreme Court vacancy also always requires an intensive consideration of the nominee’s judicial values and character and the Court’s needs at the time.  That is certainly true today.

    Supreme Court nominations are unique and accordingly demand a higher standard than applied to other presidential personnel decisions.   Unlike the vice president or Cabinet members who help a president discharge executive branch responsibilities, Supreme Court justices sit atop an independent branch of government.  Their mission is to wisely interpret law, to act as a check on the president, Congress, other federal courts, and state governments, and to vindicate individual rights.  Supreme Court justices have life-tenure and will serve without further review long beyond the presidents who nominate them or, generally, the senators who confirm them.  Justice Anthony Kennedy’s service spanned six presidents; Justice John Paul Stevens, seven.

  • July 9, 2018

    by John Hamilton, Mayor of Bloomington, IN and Dawn Johnsen, Walter W. Foskett Professor of Law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law

    *This piece was originally published by The Herald-Times

    Bloomington is a long way from Washington, D.C., but the stakes in the battle over the Supreme Court’s future are monumental, here and around the country. Who replaces retiring Justice-in-the-middle Anthony Kennedy will shape who we are as a community and as a nation for generations to come.

    President Trump and many in the Senate seek to remold America, and explicitly target the courts to do so. Time and again, first candidate and now President Trump attack our fair and independent courts, undermining the rule of law, democracy and fundamental liberties. That’s the same Trump who lost the popular vote by millions, who is under investigation for colluding with a foreign enemy to win the election and who regularly demeans our republic with his bigotry and bullying.

  • June 4, 2018

    by Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

    The thought of Donald Trump getting to pick one more Supreme Court justice is truly chilling. Neil Gorsuch replacing Antonin Scalia was an enormous lost opportunity, but it kept the Court’s ideological balance the same as it had been with Scalia on the Court. Trump replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Anthony Kennedy or Stephen Breyer would create the most conservative Court since the mid-1930s and a conservative majority that could remain on the Court for years to come.

    Since 1960, 78 years old is the average age at which a Supreme Court justice has left the bench. Today, there are three justices older than that. Justice Ginsburg turned 85 on March 15. Justice Kennedy will turn 82 on July 23 and Justice Breyer will have his 80th birthday on August 15. I have no doubt that Justices Ginsburg and Breyer will remain on the Court until the end of the Trump presidency if their health allows them to do so. But there are rumors that Justice Kennedy might retire at the end of this term.