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Friday round-up

As Tony Mauro reports at the BLT, Justice Thomas answered questions yesterday from students at the University of Florida, after speaking on Wednesday at Stetson University College of Law.  Justice Thomas touched on a range of issues, including his preference for hiring non-Ivy League law clerks and his opinion that Supreme Court justices are just “second guessers” whose work is not as hard as that of district court judges.  The AP discusses the Justice’s remark that some commentary about the Court is “irresponsible.” The local Gainesville Sun and the CBS News blog also have coverage of the event, and you can read Josh Blackman’s LiveBlog of the event here.  After Justice Thomas’s earlier remark at Stetson that he no longer attends State of the Union addresses because he finds them uncomfortable, Ben Smith of Politico briefly summarized his recent attendance record.

Yesterday Ariane de Vogue of ABCNews reported that the White House may be gearing up to fill two Court vacancies this summer, which would be created if both Justice Stevens and Justice Ginsburg decided to step down.

Tony Mauro at the National Law Journal (free registration required) reports this morning that James Feldman, a former Assistant to the Solicitor General who has argued forty-five times before the Supreme Court, will defend Chicago’s strict handgun ban in McDonald v. Chicago, which will be argued next month.

Michigan has renewed its request – which the Court denied last month — for an injunction to close canals between Chicago and Lake Michigan to prevent Asian carp from entering the lake and disturbing the Michigan fishing industry. According to the Detroit Free Press, the state is arguing that there is new evidence about the minimal economic effects of the closure for Illinois, as well as the discovery of carp DNA in the lake already.

Discussion of the Citizens United decision continues.  Yesterday the New York Times ran an editorial listing what it regards as the most “feasible” legislative proposals to curb corporate campaign spending in the wake of the decision.  Andrea Seabrook of NPR asked two House Democrats to reflect on the significance of Citizens.  The Federalist Society website also has an ongoing debate for scholars on the decision, with the latest commentary by law professors Larry Ribstein and Howard Wasserman.

During a lengthy interview with The Politic, Linda Greenhouse – who covered the Court for the New York Times for three decades – gives her immediate reaction to the Citizens decision: “the Court has finally come out of the closet, and it’s no longer the minimalist Court that Chief Justice Roberts likes us to think it is.”

Michael O’Donnell has an article in The Nation on Justice Scalia, deriding him for adopting faux “neutral principles” that he applies when it suits his conservative policy preferences.

On her Court Beat blog, Joan Biskupic discusses whether it would be politically risky for President Obama to nominate a seventh Catholic or a third Jew to the Court if Justice Stevens – who is Protestant – retires.  She notes that Justice Scalia is proud of the fact that the public seems not to heed the religion of the Justices, while former Justice O’Connor vehemently called for a diversity of faiths.

Lawrence Hurley of the Daily Journal (via How Appealing) has an article on Samantar v. Yousuf, which is scheduled for oral argument on March 3.  Former Somali prime minister Mohamed Ali Samantar is challenging a lower court’s ruling that he is not immune from a suit brought by five Somali citizens accusing him of torture.  will be heard for oral argument on March 3. [Disclosure: Akin Gump also represents the respondents in this case.]

Yesterday two sisters who were petitioners in the famous Brown v. Board of Education discussed “myths” about the case before an audience in Memphis, as reported by the Commercial Appeal blog.