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Thursday round-up

At Roll Call (via How Appealing), John Stanton and Jennifer Bendery report on the possibility of an upcoming Supreme Court confirmation battle in the Senate should Justice Stevens choose to retire this year.  The authors discuss how midterm elections might affect the confirmation process and note that the continuing debate over Citizens United might play a critical role in a confirmation fight. At AOL News, Tamara Lytle profiles several possible nominees and frames the possible selection process as a conflict between “the left wing of the Democratic Party’s desire for a liberal like Stevens” and those who favor a moderate more likely to be confirmed in the Senate.

In a letter to The Wall Street Journal, Lynn Rhinehart of the AFL-CIO responds to Stephen J. Law’s recent op-ed; she argues that unions are ultimately hurt by the Citizens decision.  Because unions must disclose political spending “with far more specificity than businesses must,” and because union members can opt out of financing political activity, she concludes that the Court’s decision “will empower corporations far more than workers or their unions.”

At CBS News, Jeffrey Rosen of the New Republic comments on the Chief Justice’s recent criticism of President Obama’s condemnation of the Citizens United decision.  Reviewing past conflicts between presidents and the Court, Rosen concludes that it is “almost always the president who prevails,” such that “Obama should have no hesitation” about speaking against Court decisions with which he disagrees.  An editorial at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also criticizes Chief Justice Roberts’s comments and expresses concern that the Roberts Court may become known for “promoting and profiting from national enmity.”

At Newsweek, Krista Gesaman has a preview of Snyder v. Phelps and speculates that although the Court “traditionally supports free-speech arguments, even when the speech is offensive,” “the specific facts of this case might be too extreme for a few of the judges.”

At The New York Times, Gabriel Nelson of Greenwire covers the Court’s upcoming reconsideration of its January decision not to close the Chicago locks to bar the invasive Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.  The author notes that though it is less likely that the Court will issue a broad injunction that addresses the underlying issue of state control of the waterways, the justices may be more receptive to appointing a fact-finding special master to develop recommendations for the Court.

The UC Davis Law Review has published the articles and remarks from its February symposium, “The Honorable John Paul Stevens.”  Among other articles, Linda Greenhouse traces Justice Stevens’s role as a supporter of abortion rights; Jamal Greene documents the Court’s gradual move from “privacy to liberty as a constitutional basis for the freedom to make fundamental life decisions,” a shift that Justice Stevens ardently supported; and Diane Marie Amann documents the Justice’s evolving views on diversity and affirmative action.

Andy Jones at the BLT reports on Tuesday’s annual mock trial at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, in which Justices Ginsburg and Alito –  among other high-profile Washington lawyers and judges – heard arguments on whether Henry V should be held criminally responsible for slaughtering French prisoners of war at the Battle of Agincourt.  Advocates during the proceedings drew laughs from the audience when they referred to “Cardinal Scalia,” who “advocated strict adherence to the framers of the Roman Empire,” and “Abbot Breyer,” who endorsed a more “pragmatic” approach.  The Washington Briefs blog also has coverage.


  • At Above the Law, Mike Sacks of First One @ One First offers tips to those looking to stay overnight to be among the first in Court to hear oral argument (don’t bring a tent; do bring a quarter).
  • The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune report that U.S. District Judge James Zagel has denied former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich’s request to delay his trial until the Court resolves the Term’s “honest services” cases.
  • At the Louisville Courier-Journal, Betty Winston Bayé explores the relationship between the justices and their spouses’ political activities in light of the announcement that Virginia Thomas has  recently formed a “tea party” group, Liberty Central.
  • The ACS Blog discusses recent reports that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is increasing its spending on voter-education and advocacy efforts during midterm elections in the wake of the Citizens United decision.