Supreme Court

  • November 2, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-R.I.)

    *These remarks were given by Senator Whitehouse during a Senate Judiciary Committee Nomination Hearing on November 1, 2017

    Our Senate Judiciary nominations hearings, I believe, have become something of a joke. Nominees come to us readied for our hearings by "murder boards" that taught them how to withstand all five minutes of questioning by Senators. Nominees are often packed into panels, so a Senator’s five minutes get spread across multiple nominees. The questioning of nominees is often simple and rote. A fundamental premise in the proceedings is that there is inevitably “law” that can be impartially applied to “facts,” and there endeth the lesson. 

    The falsity of this premise can be shown in two words: Merrick Garland. If judging were all about impartial application of law to facts, why the desperate effort to stop the most qualified judge to be nominated to the Supreme Court in our lifetimes? Why does the Supreme Court majority of five Republican appointees rule so predictably on so many issues important to big Republican interests? Why did candidate Trump need to make a list of whom he’d appoint to the Court to get conservative backing? Why are gobs of political dark money spent by special interests to push for the confirmation of judicial nominees? All of this political behavior around judicial appointments belies the notion that it’s just about impartially applying law to facts. Yet we’re supposed to accept the pretense.

  • October 19, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Robert Post, Sterling Professor of Law, Yale Law School     

    *This blog was originally published on Take Care

     Last month, DOJ filed an amicus brief last month in support of the petitioner in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. V. Colorado Civil Rights Commiss. DOJ argues that First Amendment guarantees of freedom of expression preclude the application of Colorado’s general antidiscrimination law to a boutique bakery that produces custom-made wedding cakes. The DOJ brief raises important theoretical questions about the scope of judicial review under the freedom of speech clause of the First Amendment. 

    I yield to no one in my support of these First Amendment freedoms. But precisely because I treasure them, I think it important properly to understand and apply them, lest they be diluted and weakened during times of actual political repression when we will need their strong and clear protection.

  • October 6, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Richard C. Reuben, James Lewis Parks Professor of Law and Journalism, University of Missouri School of Law

    Chief Justice Roberts's concerns about the integrity of the court being diminished if the court starts hearing partisan gerrymandering claims is overwrought and disappointing.

    The truth is, ANYTIME the court opens up a new area, as sometimes it must to enforce the Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights, there will be some cases that will need to be decided to flesh out the details. Fear of more cases, for example, certainly hasn't deterred the court from deciding questions regarding the death penalty, abortion, and affirmative action to name just a few.

    What happens is that the court uses subsequent cases to provide additional guidance and things settle down as the lower courts learn to apply the new constitutional standards and only the cases that get to the court thereafter are where the courts of appeal are in significant disagreement.

  • October 4, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Ruben J. Garcia, Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Research, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada Las Vegas. Garcia is a member of the ACS Board of Directors and Board of Academic Advisors.

    In 1932 and 1935, Congress declared the public policy of the United States in labor matters as follows:

    “[I]t is necessary that [the individual unorganized worker] have full freedom of association, self-organization…in the designation of such representatives or in self-organization, or in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection…”.

    In Section 3 of the Norris LaGuardia Act, Congress declared that contracts which conflict with the public policy declared above to be “unenforceable in any court of the United States.” Congress has not repealed or retracted these declarations.

  • September 7, 2017

    By Lena Zwarensteyn, ACS Director of Strategic Engagement

    Our federal judiciary is in jeopardy. Courts are often the last defense for our Constitution. Federal courts make decisions about how we are treated in the workplace, how the law regards women, racial minorities, and those with disabilities, among others, consumer protections, the safety of our environment, our right to vote, and our immigration system – just to name a few issues. 

    And yet, we have a President that has attacked individual judges and courts.

    Indeed, he campaigned with a list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court that he repeatedly emphasized would be the most conservative jurists he could find, and he was certain they passed a series of litmus tests, including on reproductive rights and gun safety laws.