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Monday round-up

The Court agreed to hear two cases this morning—Schwarzenegger v. Video Software Dealers Association and Ortiz v. Jordan, et al. The Schwarzenegger case, in which California is defending the constitutionality of a law prohibiting the sale of violent video games to minors, will address some of the same issues as United States v. Stevens, which the Court decided last week.  Greg Stohr of Bloomberg has early coverage, as do James Vicini of Reuters and Jesse Holland of the Associated Press.  The Court also refused to hear a suit by Michigan against Illinois involving attempts to stop the invasive migration of Asian carp into Lake Michigan.  Brent Kendall of Dow Jones provides coverage, as do Reuters, Bloomberg, and Jonathan Flesher of the Associated Press.  Tina Lam of the Detroit Free Press provides local context, as does Dan Egan of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Over the weekend, the news again centered on the impending retirement of Justice Stevens and the nomination of a replacement.  Robert Barnes and Anne Kornblut of the Washington Post discuss the considerations that will go into the nomination.  In the New York Times, Peter Baker asks whether there is any difference between President Obama’s recent comment that he will look for a nominee with “a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people” and his discussion of “empathy” in the run-up to the nomination of Justice Sotomayor.  In the National Law Journal, Tony Mauro discusses the possibility of a nominee without prior judicial experience.  Nancy Benac of the Associated Press profiles White House Counsel Bob Bauer, “Obama’s point man in the search for a new Supreme Court justice.” 

In the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog, Ashby Jones wonders whether it is possible for President Obama to make “populist outrage” over the Court’s Citizens United decision “work[] for him rather than against him.”  At The Hill, Russell Berman describes the preparations of the Congressional Black Caucus for the impending nomination.  Todd Gilman of the Dallas Morning News reports that President Obama had discussed the choice with Sen. John Cornyn.  The Fox affiliate in Duluth, MN quotes Sen. Amy Klobuchar as saying she hopes the president nominates “someone who is incredibly smart, that has a record of excellence, someone who understands regular people’s lives.”  On the op-ed page of the Washington Post, Montgomery Kosma encourages President Obama to defy conventional wisdom and consider age an asset in his Supreme Court selection.  In the New York Times, Linda Greenhouse notes that other countries seem to avoid protracted battles over the nominations to their high courts, and suggested the abandonment of life tenure and other ways to improve the functioning of the Court.

Speculation about rumored short-listers continues unabated.  In New York Magazine, John Heilemann makes the case for the appointment of Judge Merrick Garland of the District of Columbia Circuit.  Stuart Taylor Jr. of the National Journal concurs.  At the Colored Demos blog, Guy-Uriel Charles raises questions about the potential nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan.  Blogging for The Hill, Jordan Fabian notes that Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan has repeatedly said that she would be an “unconventional” choice for the Court.  Sam Stein of the Huffington Post also reports on Granholm’s remarks.  Both the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News report on the rumored consideration of Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Ann Claire Williams, a local native who once taught third grade in Detroit.  In an op-ed piece for the Providence Journal, M.J. Andersen compares the failure of Dawn Johnsen’s nomination to head the Office of Legal Counsel to the likely success of a nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Court, noting that a record of outspokenness can be a liability.  For ABC News, Devin Dwyer reports that “appointment to a seat on the country’s highest court can be both a blessing and a curse.”  Michael Kirkland of United Press International describes previous candidates for the Court who have ultimately not been nominated.

At Slate, Dahlia Lithwick suggests that ours is “a surrendered court, an institution devoted to the principle that it is critically important to be seen as powerless and unimportant.”  Lithwick discusses the efforts to formulate a progressive alternative to the image of the judge as umpire, claiming that “it’s becoming amply clear to most Americans that with this court behind the plate, only big business ever gets to first.”  In the Washington Post, op-ed columnist E.J. Dionne encourages Democrats to “ignore the claims of conservatives that they are opposed to ‘legislating from the bench,’ since it’s their judges who are now doing the legislating”

In the midst of it all, reporting continues on recent decisions and pending cases.  Janet Tu of the Seattle Times discusses Doe v. Reed, which will be argued on Wednesday.  The case concerns the interaction of the First Amendment with a Washington State public disclosure law; supporters of same-sex marriage attempted to compel the release of the names of those who had signed a petition for a referendum that would ban the practice.  The case is also previewed by Les Blumenthal for McClatchy and Harriet Robbins Ost of UPI.  Phillip Brasher of the Des Moines Register discusses Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, scheduled for argument tomorrow.  Jim Stinson of the Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY) reports on last week’s decision in Conkright v. Frommert, which Martine Cicconi recapped over the weekend at this blog.

Dennis Grabaugh of the Telegraph of Alton (IL), Robert Patrick of the St. Louis Dispatch, and the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune all report on a case that has been dropped as a result of last week’s ruling in United States v. Stevens.  In the Boston Herald, Renee Nadeau Algarin reports on dogfighting opponents’ disappointment in the decision.  On the op-ed page of the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker urges Congress to craft a replacement bill that would survive judicial scrutiny.  For the National Review Online, Mona Charen praises Justice Alito’s lone dissent in Stevens. 

In the wake of the Court’s Citizens United ruling, the editorial board of the Houston Chronicle applauds the state legislature’s recent enactment of reporting requirements for corporate donations to political groups, and urges it to pass further regulations.  At the blog of Legal Times, Marcia Coyle previews the legislation that may be introduced shortly.


  • David Crary of the Associated Press reports on the flaws that have been found in state child-abuse registries; the Court will hear a case regarding the California registry in fall 2010.
  • John Schwartz has an article and a blog post in the New York Times about the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • The editorial board of the Washington Post notes that “[o]thers with controversial views or academic records have put aside their political impulses and performed honorably on the bench” and urges the Senate to give the same opportunity to Goodwin Liu, who has been nominated for a seat on the Ninth Circuit.  In an op-ed column, Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle opposes the nomination.