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Thursday round-up

Media and blogosphere coverage of the Court continues to focus on the preparations for Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings next month. USA Today reports on the Tuesday conference call organized by the White House, in which a conservative graduate of Harvard Law School spoke in support of Kagan.  At the BLT, David Ingram reports that outgoing Senator Arlen Specter has sent Kagan a letter summarizing the issues that he plans to discuss at her confirmation hearings, including restitution for Holocaust victims, compensation for those affected by the 9/11 terror attacks, and warrantless wiretapping.

Several current and former Justices have weighed in on Kagan’s nomination as well.  According to ABC News, former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor described Kagan as “very well qualified academically” in an interview.  And David Gura at NPR, ABC News, and the Washington Post’s Robert Barnes all report on remarks last night by Justice Antonin Scalia, who indicated that in his view, Kagan’s lack of judicial experience is a positive rather than a negative.

At Newsweek, Stuart Taylor Jr. discusses Kagan’s praise for Israeli Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak, whose support for liberal causes, Taylor argues, “makes Marshall look almost like a champion of judicial restraint.”  And at the Huffington Post, Brennan Center attorney Monica Youn responds to comments made on the Senate floor last week by Senator Mitch McConnell, who criticized Kagan’s support of the government’s position in Citizens United v. FEC.  Youn characterizes McConnell’s stance as “skewed” and further laments a concept underlying his argument – the notion that, in a First Amendment context, speech and money are one and the same.

Jonathan Chait bemoans the current state of the Supreme Court nomination and confirmation process at the New Republic, describing Kagan as embodying the “state-of-the-art modern Supreme Court nominee” – a young candidate with no record of legal opinions but with strong connections to the establishment of the party in power.  At the Associated Press, Julie Hirschfeld Davis remarks on the relative lack of controversy over Kagan’s nomination, positing that the absence of any serious opposition stems at least in part from the fact that Kagan was extensively vetted for the position of Solicitor General just over a year ago.

At Politico, Josh Gerstein reports on a recent speech on the Senate floor by Senator Amy Klobuchar, who was discussed as a possible candidate to replace Justice Stevens in the weeks leading up to the nomination.  Klobuchar criticized a recent article by the Washington Post’s fashion reporter, citing it as evidence that sexism was entering the conversation on the nominee’s qualifications.  And in an essay at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick echoes Klobuchar’s concerns regarding the debate over Kagan’s nomination, but writes that young people, in her experience, respond far more to “competence and intelligence” in a Supreme Court nominee than to the recent criticisms of Kagan’s style and personal life.

Several commentators continue to discuss on Monday’s opinions and orders today.  At Politico, Fred Barbash recaps Monday’s decision in American Needle v. NFL, while the editorial board of the New York Times applauds the decision.  At the National Law Journal, Tony Mauro also looks back at the ruling.  In a piece at Time, Adam Cohen offers detailed background on Skinner v. Switzer, a death-penalty case in which the Court granted cert. on Monday, urging the Court to use the case as an opportunity both to expand the right to DNA testing and to address the fact that, as he argues, “the legal system does not always seem to care whether the people it executes are actually guilty.”


  • At the Volokh Conspiracy, Eugene Volokh has the third and fourth in a series of posts on Snyder v. Phelps, scheduled for argument in the OT10 term.  (The first two posts are here and here.)
  • At ACSblog, Jody Kent (director of the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth) and Beth Colgan (an attorney at the Institutions Project at Columbia Legal Services) praise last week’s decision in Graham v. Florida, arguing that the Court correctly identified juvenile offenders as unique.
  • At the BLT,Mike Scarcella provides an update on the ongoing fee dispute in D.C. v. Heller, the landmark 2008 handgun-rights case.
  • Denise Lavoie of the Associated Press reports on the recent activities of retired Justice David Souter, who continues to hear cases occasionally on the First Circuit.  A second Associated Press story covers retired Justice O’Connor’s work to promote civic education, while a third notes her opposition to Arizona’s new immigration law.