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Monday round-up

Commentators continue to analyze Justice Alito’s reaction to President Obama’s declaration that the majority decision in Citizens United v. FEC “reversed a century of law.”  The Washington Post recalls the duo’s complicated relationship: Obama voted against Alito’s confirmation, while Alito was the only Justice not in attendance last year when Obama made a courtesy call at the Court.  Joan Biskupic, writing on her Court Beat blog, describes her interactions with Alito, who “has a quiet demeanor yet a definite contrary streak” and characterizes himself as a “very boring person.”  Adam Liptak, writing for the New York Times, comments on Obama’s relationship with the Court, pointing out that he overturned the Court’s ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. by signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on his first day in office. And on the subject of the Fair Pay Act, ACSblog investigates how the act has been interpreted during its first year of existence, reporting that an unanswered question for courts ”is whether and how the Act is retroactive.”

Elsewhere, commentators analyze how Citizens United v. FEC could affect other cases and issues.  Dorothy Samuels at the Times comments that the ruling will put “a ‘for sale’ over the judiciary” and polarize judicial elections.  However, Tony Mauro notes that some opponents of judicial elections surmise that if more money is spent on future judicial elections, then the public might deem elections to be “unseemly,” which could lead voters to favor a merit-based selection process for choosing judges. Writing for Cato @ Liberty, John Samples suggests that the logic applied in Citizens United should allow corporations to not only advertise during elections, but also donate to campaigns.  He writes that this logic should apply in v. Federal Election Commission, a case heard last week by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.  For readers interested in the implications and impact of the decision in Citizens United, Cleta Mitchell, a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Foley & Lardner LLP, has published a memo on the matter, which can be seen here.  Mitchell will host a free webinar on the decision this Wednesday.

At the Washington Post, Martha White investigates when the Court first began treating corporations as people, concluding that this Fourteenth Amendment interpretation emerged around the end of the nineteenth century.  Meanwhile, at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick compares Justice Stevens’ dissent in Citizens United with a memoir by South African judge Albie Sachs, and comments that both of these “judicial swan songs” reveal the ways in which the personal experiences of these jurists shaped their unique views of the law.  Though some writers are interested in the history of the case and arguments, Congress is more interested in the future, and David S. Broder at the Washington Post surveys the legislative options Congress might pursue in response to the decision.  Further coverage is available at Concurring Opinions.

In other news, Justice Stevens and Justice Ginsburg have both recently been interviewed about the Court.  Justice Stevens, nominated for a position on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals by Republican Senator Charles Percy, recently sat for an interview to discuss his ascension to the Court, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.  The Journal also reports that, during the wide-ranging interview, Justice Stevens criticized the practice of gerrymandering, which “worsens partisan divides in government.” Additionally, MEDIAite reports on Justice Ginsburg’s interview last week with Nina Totenberg, NPR’s legal affairs correspondent, in which the Justice discusses, among other things, her friendship with Justice Scalia and the importance of women on the Court.

Colleen Mastoney at the Chicago Tribune profiles Otis McDonald, the lead petitioner in McDonald, et al. v. City of Chicago, who jokes that “he was chosen as lead plaintiff because he is African-American.”  McDonald, who is 76, a Democrat, and a longtime hunter, is challenging Chicago’s strict handgun ban because, according to Mastoney, he ”wants a gun to protect himself from the hoodlums preying upon his neighborhood.”


  • Michael Kirkland reports for UPI on the Court’s decision last week in Hemi Group, LLC, v. City of New York, noting that the Court has not often offered “cyberguidance.”
  • Here, here, and here Orin Kerr and David Bernstein debate Glenn Beck’s comments on Roscoe Pound, a founder of “sociological jurisprudence.”
  • Above The Law gauges the reliability of predictions made in the Citizens United case to predict how accurate predications in other cases this term will be.
  • Politicians in southern Florida who have recently been investigated in public corruption cases hope the Court will strike down the “honest service fraud” statutes at issue in three cases this Term, as the Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.