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Thursday round-up

Even with three decisions and an oral argument yesterday, Supreme Court chatter was still dominated by the President’s moves in selecting a successor to Justice Stevens. Here’s the latest:

  • President Obama met with Senate leaders from both parties and called nine Judiciary Committee members yesterday to discuss the choice. (Politico, Christian Science Monitor)
  • Although the Senators recommended candidates to the President, the President did not discuss any potential nominee by name. (L.A. Times, USA Today’s The Oval blog, Huffington Post)
  • The President intends to make his choice in the next two weeks, with May 26—the day on which he named Sotomayor last year—as a final deadline. (New York Times, BLT)
  • The White House is already “speaking with,” if not interviewing, candidates. (NPR, WSJ Law Blog)
  • The President indicated that he will not use a litmus test in making his choice. “But I will say that I want somebody who is going to be interpreting our Constitution in a way that takes into account individual rights, and that includes women’s rights,” he said. (Washington Post, Wall Street Journal)
  • Judge Ann Claire Williams of the Seventh Circuit has been added to the President’s working list. (Chicago Tribune, L.A. Times, BLT)

The full text of the President’s public comments yesterday is available from Real Clear Politics. NPR has an interview with Senator Sessions (R-AL), one of the Senate leaders at yesterday’s meeting with the President. CBS News’s Jan Crawford discusses the President’s short list, while the Wall Street Journal reports that some senators are pushing the President to nominate a more political, less judicial figure this time around. The New York Times profiles Judge Diane Wood, examining her Seventh Circuit record to predict what a Justice Wood would bring to the Supreme Court. A Washington Post profile of Janet Napolitano describes how the homeland security secretary “reemerged as one of the strongest members of the Obama Cabinet: [o]n the shortlist for the Supreme Court[ and] in line if the attorney general position should become available.” The L.A. Times has a story on the “low-key debate as to whether the religion of a justice matters, and whether President Obama should consider the faith of his next nominee.” Finally, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire has the results of a Quinnipiac poll about the Supreme Court vacancy.

Of the three decisions released yesterday, the attorneys’ fees case Perdue v. Kenny A. attracted the most attention. The New York Times summarized the ruling’s impact as “ma[king] it a little harder for civil rights lawyers to be paid extra for exceptional results.” Describing it as “the most important attorneys’ fees case in years,” SCOTUSblog’s Lyle Denniston read “[b]etween the lines” of Justice Alito’s opinion to find “lurk[ing] a strong devotion to the ‘lodestar’ calculation as the gold standard on fee calculation, and a deep-seated skepticism about superior performance—unless it can be measured by hard, objective, measurable and perhaps even provable factors.” The Washington Post and Constitutional Law Prof Blog have additional coverage. The National Law Journal compares the holdings in Perdue and Jerman v. Carlisle, one of the other cases decided yesterday, describing the pair as a “good and bad news for lawyers.” [Disclosure: Howe & Russell represented the petitioner in Jerman.]

The Court also heard oral argument in one case yesterday, Krupski v. Costa Crociere.  Writing for the BLT, Tony Mauro summarized the question presented in the case as “when you sue the wrong party by mistake, what happens?” Howard Wasserman of Prawfsblawg and Mauro agree that the case does not interest many people, but both find reasons to pay attention. One is an exchange at oral argument, highlighted by Mauro and featuring Justice Breyer, that elicited a humorously personal revelation from the Justice: “No, my wife does not make mistakes.”

Commentary on the Court’s opinion in United States v. Stevens has also continued. The L.A. Times has a story on the Congressman who originally wrote the law restricting distribution of depictions of animal cruelty that the Court found unconstitutional on Tuesday. He has already introduced a new bill that will target crush videos. In an editorial, the L.A. Times lauds the decision as “significant for the future of the 1st Amendment,” including because “[t] he majority comprised both liberal and conservative justices.” At Prawfsblawg, Howard Wasserman criticizes the Court for not sufficiently distinguishing depictions of animal cruelty from child pornography to justify their different treatments under the First Amendment. At Concurring Opinions, Neil Richards explains his conclusion that “Stevens is a significant case precisely because it is the proverbial ‘dog that didn’t bark.’”

Finally, Michael Dorf has an essay at FindLaw titled “Becoming Justice Stevens: How and Why Some Justices Evolve,” to which Doug Berman responds at his blog, Sentencing Law and Policy.  Christopher Eisgruber, a former Stevens clerk, has a tribute to Stevens in the L.A. Times, calling the Justice “a true judicial maverick.”