A group of more than 100 law professors is asking Congress to apply to the justices of the nation’s top court an ethics code that applies to other federal judges.The move follows recent criticism of several U.S. Supreme Court justices for attending private political meetings and accepting travel funds from private donors, reports the Washington Post.Congress should create “mandatory and enforceable rules to protect the integrity of the Supreme Court,” the law profs say in a letter today to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. While other courts do not allow an individual judge to determine the propriety of his or her own conduct, “inexplicably we still allow Supreme Court justices to be the sole judge of themselves on recusal issues.”The Alliance for Justice links to a copy of the letter (PDF).Even if the nation’s lawmakers decide to impose an ethics code on the nine justices, it could face constitutional challenge, the Post article notes.The … [Read more...] about 100 Law Profs Lobby Congress to Apply Ethics Code to US Supreme Court Justices
Us supreme court justice
Last week at Bloomberg View, Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein endeavored to name the greatest U.S. Supreme Court justices among the 112 who have served.“It makes sense to consider two factors: historical significance and legal ability,” Sunstein wrote. “It would be too contentious to include only those justices with whom one agrees, so let’s make this list ideology-free. We’ll also exclude the current justices, because it is too early to tell whether any will count among the all-time greats.”Among Sunstein’s picks are Justice Louis Brandeis and Justice Felix Frankfurter. But the Volokh Conspiracy’s Will Baude, a law professor at the University of Chicago, takes issue with those picks.“What are Brandeis and Frankfurter doing on this list?” Baude wrote. “Both of them are famous and had plenty of accomplishments off the bench, but the case for their significance (or ability) as Justices is weak.” Baude was … [Read more...] about Who are the all-time great US Supreme Court justices?
Only one in three Americans can name a sitting justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, a new survey shows.Chief Justice John Roberts is the best known of the nine, according to the survey conducted by Findlaw.com. One in five respondents were able to identify him.Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas tied for second place in name recognition. Sixteen percent of the respondents were able to identify one of them.Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Anthony Kennedy fell in the middle, at 13 percent, 13 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in name recognition.Justices Samuel Alito, at 5 percent, Elena Kagan, at 4 percent, and Stephen Breyer, at 3 percent, brought up the rear.Only 1 percent of the respondents could name all nine justices.Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor at FindLaw, says that because the court issues decisions as a collective body, conducts its sessions without TV cameras and deliberates behind closed doors, the justices themselves are generally … [Read more...] about Two-Thirds of Americans Can’t Name a Single US Supreme Court Justice, Survey Shows
Retirement has allowed former U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter a long-awaited chance to catch up on his reading in between stints on the Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals bench.But he had to move to another home in New Hampshire instead of returning to his longtime abode, described by the Washington Post as a ramshackle farmhouse, because he was advised that it risked collapse under the weight of his book collection, the newspaper reports.In its latest issue, Harvard Magazine offers not only details about Souter’s reading list but this firsthand gem concerning his post-retirement meeting with Meryl Streep, as both awaited the award of honorary doctorates from Harvard.Initially, “she happened to be somewhat ahead of me in the cohort of honorands processing into the New Yard between rows of regular degree candidates, and we were just about at the corner of Widener when one senior boy reluctantly took his eyes off the eminent actress and noticed me,” … [Read more...] about Retirement Offers US Supreme Court Justice Souter a Chance to Read and Meet Meryl Streep
Gonzaga University School of Law professor Ann Murphy wrote in to us last week about how she had an opportunity to talk with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in her chambers.“This came about due to a rather embarrassing mistake I made two years ago, when I included Justice Sotomayor in a ‘reply all’ email,” Murphy wrote. “When I realized I had made an error, I apologized and she could not have been nicer about it.” The two began swapping emails, and Sotomayor invited Murphy to see her at the Supreme Court when Murphy was in Washington, D.C. for a conference.Hearing about this friendly encounter has prompted us to ask you, our readers: Have you ever had a personal encounter with a U.S. Supreme Court justice? Was it while said justice was on the bench, before he or she was confirmed, or after he or she retired? What were your impressions?Answer in the comments.Read the answers to last week’s question: Did the SOPA / PIPA Internet … [Read more...] about Have You Ever Had a Personal Encounter with a US Supreme Court Justice?
A bill introduced by Democratic lawmakers aims to make U.S. Supreme Court recusals more transparent.The bill would require Supreme Court justices to explain their recusal decisions and would allow the Supreme Court to force a recusal when a justice rejects a motion to disqualify, according to The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times. The legislation also would require the U.S. Judicial Conference to create a procedure to investigate ethics complaints against the justices.Justices already voluntarily comply with the code of conduct for federal judges, but the legislation would make it a requirement, the BLT says.Chief sponsor of the bill is U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. “There is often a mystery as to why a recusal doesn’t happen, and there is often mystery as to why a recusal does happen,” he said at a news conference. In a press release, Murphy said the bill is needed because the public’s trust has been eroded by political activities of some of the justices.Prior … [Read more...] about Bill Would Require Supreme Court Justices to Explain Recusals, Create Ethics Review Process
A recent oral argument before the nation’s highest court probably won’t make much of a difference in the grander scheme of things, because the sentencing law at issue has already been changed by Congress.And that’s just as well, because none of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared to have much of a clue concerning the chemical properties of cocaine derivatives on which the case turns, writes columnist Dana Milbank in the Washington Post.“Optical isomers are nonsuperimposable mirror images, like right- and left-handed versions of the same molecule,” explained attorney Nicole Saharsky, arguing for the Department of Justice. But “geometric isomers … are based on spatial arrangements where a certain part of the molecule is pushed out or pushed up axially or equatorially.”Meanwhile, the justices sought to simplify this and other concepts, recounts Milbank.“Cocaine base means the same exact same thing as cocaine, because cocaine … [Read more...] about Clueless About Cocaine Derivatives, US Supreme Court Justices Struggle with Facts of Drug Case
Serving as the only woman on the U.S. Supreme Court is an isolating job, says Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.“It’s lonely for me,” she said Friday at an Ohio State University symposium, reports the Associated Press. “Not that I don’t love all my colleagues. I do.”Describing her job as the best—and the hardest—she’s ever had, the 76-year-old Ginsburg says she misses her former female colleague, ex-Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who retired in 2006.Sometimes, Ginsburg told the students, she wonders what the audience thinks when they see her as the sole representative of her sex on the nation’s top court bench. “There I am all alone, and it doesn’t look right,” she said.In an earlier take on the same symposium, Ginsburg talked about how she sees no problem with a controversial practice of looking to the law of foreign countries as persuasive authority. Updated at 3:34 p.m. to include link to earlier … [Read more...] about The Loneliness of the Sole Female US Supreme Court Justice
Hugo L. Black Jr., a longtime trial lawyer and the son of a famous U.S. Supreme Court justice, died Monday at his Florida home. He was 91 years old.Still a practicing lawyer in Coral Gables, Fla., until shortly before his death, Black is survived by two daughters. He was predeceased by his wife and a namesake son who was also a lawyer, according to the Miami Herald.Known for his rapport with a jury and representing the underdog, Black was also a devoted family man, his law partner told the ABA Journal.“Juries loved Hugo,” said Bonnie J. Losak-Jimenez, who had practiced with him for over 20 years. Some of the small firm’s bigger cases during that time involved representing investors in securities cases against individuals who had taken advantage of them, she said, noting that the firm had not only prevailed but actually collected money for its clients.“He did a lot of that, where he would represent the defrauded individual.”The two attorneys first met, she … [Read more...] about Trial lawyer Hugo L. Black Jr., son of famous US Supreme Court justice, is dead at 91
Chandigarh born Srikanth ‘Sri’ Srinivasan is being vetted by President Obama as a potential nominee for a Supreme Court vacancy, along with few other candidates. Judge Merrick B. Garland and Judge Srinivasan are undergoing background checks by the FBI, The New York Times reported. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and Judge Jane L. Kelly have also been reported as being potential candidates for the post which fell vacant after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden demise last month. All the candidates whose names have leaked out till now share the distinction of appearing to hold some degree of palatability to Republicans.Mr. Srikanth’s father hailed from Mela Thiruvenkatanathapuram, a village near Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. His family, including two younger sisters, migrated in the late 1960s to Lawrence, Kansas. His father was a professor of mathematics at the University of Kansas, and his mother taught at the Kansas City Art Institute and later worked at the … [Read more...] about Indian born Srikanth Srinivasan being vetted for US Supreme Court Judgeship