• January 24, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Christopher Kang, ACS Board member and Former Deputy Counsel to President Obama

    The Senate runs on trust.

    Senator Patrick Leahy, as the Senate’s most senior member, knows this better than anyone. So last June, I took heart when he said, with respect to Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and blue slips on judicial nominations:

    “He told me he was going to follow the same procedures as chairman. And I take him at his word.... I’ve known him for over 30 years. He’s never broken his word to me.

    Last October, Senator Leahy reiterated, “Chairman Grassley has told me he will respect the blue slip tradition, just as I did. I trust him to keep his word.”

    This wasn’t just Chairman Grassley’s word in a private conversation among Committee leaders. In 2015, Chairman Grassley wrote an op-ed in the Des Moines Register, stating:

    “For nearly a century, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has brought nominees up for committee consideration only after both home-state senators have signed and returned what’s known as a “blue slip.” This tradition is designed to encourage outstanding nominees and consensus between the White House and home-state senators. Over the years, Judiciary Committee chairs of both parties have upheld a blue-slip process, including Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, my immediate predecessor in chairing the committee, who steadfastly honored the tradition even as some in his own party called for its demiseI appreciate the value of the blue-slip process and also intend to honor it.

    And while Chairman Grassley did enforce blue slips during the Obama Administration—preventing 9 Obama judicial nominees from receiving a hearing—last November, he broke his word.

  • January 24, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Ronald S. Miller, Miller Shakman & Beem LLP

    *Chicago Lawyer Chapter Board of Advisors member Ronald S. Miller, one of the founders of the Chicago Legal Legends Luncheon, has written the reflection below on the occasion of Judge Milton Shadur’s passing. Judge Shadur was a pillar of the Chicago legal community, and was honored as one of the very first Chicago Legal Legends.

    Milton Shadur, the great jurist, lawyer and role model for how a person’s life should be lived, has died at age 93. The legal world has lost a true giant. And I have lost a great former employer, law partner and friend for almost 60 years.

    In 1960 I was living in New York City when the sudden and premature death of my father necessitated a return to my native Chicago. I was fortunate to receive several offers of employment, one from a corporation willing to match my relatively high New York-level corporate salary.

  • January 23, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Camille Fischer, Frank Stanton Fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation

    Over 300 U.S. and European lawmakers, civil liberties organizations, media organizations, computer science professors, U.S. and international legal academics, and companies urged the Supreme Court last week to protect privacy rights in the countless emails, chats, and other online communications that cross international boundaries.

    In all, 23 amicus briefs were submitted in support of Microsoft’s challenge to a U.S. warrant requesting the company to turn over emails stored in Dublin, Ireland. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) signed onto a brief with the American Civil Liberties Union, Brennan Center, Restore the Fourth, and R Street Institute.

  • January 23, 2018
    Guest Post

    by the Honorable Lynn Adelman, district judge in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin.

    *This piece was originally posted in the fall issue of Litigation

    The United States today has a serious over-punishment problem. Beginning in the 1960s and 70s, the country embarked on a shift in penal policies, tripling the percentage of convicted felons sentenced to prison and doubling the length of their sentences.  As a result, America has become an outlier, not just among democracies but among all nations—including such highly punitive states as Russia and South Africa. The United States’ current incarceration rate is five times higher than the rate throughout most of the twentieth century. The very phrase—“mass incarceration”—is meant to provoke shame that the world’s wealthiest democracy imprisons so many people, though crime rates have fallen.

  • January 22, 2018
    Guest Post

    by Caroline Fredrickson

    For judicial nominations, 2018 began much the way 2017 ended. Rushed and reckless sum up the confirmation process.    

    Look at the pace with which the Senate is confirming nominees. Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, last week jammed through the Senate Judiciary Committee 17 of Trump’s judicial nominations. As Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., a committee member, noted on an ACS briefing call, the rocket docket is now the Senate Judiciary Committee.