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Tuesday round-up

At the BLT, Tony Mauro recaps the weekend’s nomination news and – citing White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’s comment on Monday that “[w]e’re getting there” – suggests that a nomination may come this week.  Mauro also reports that the president’s questioning of short-list candidates “is said to focus on whether nominees have an appreciation of the impact of Court decisions on average citizens.”  Brian Montopoli of CBS News also reports on questions at the daily briefing (and Gibbs’s responses) regarding the nomination process.  At the WSJ Law Blog, Ashby Jones writes that the “short list” has been further narrowed to four:  Kagan, Wood, Garland, and the Ninth Circuit’s Sidney Thomas.  At Newsweek, Daniel Klaidman reports, based on remarks by senior administration officials, that the president likes the idea of bringing significant gender diversity to the Court (i.e., three or four women).

At CNN, Dan Gilgoff explores some of the sociological factors that have contributed to the “unprecedented prospect of a Supreme Court without a single Protestant justice,” but he concludes that changes in the populations of elite colleges “means that a Protestant Supreme Court resurgence may not be too far off.”  In an opinion piece for the L.A. Times, Marc Cooper offers a slightly different take:  he urges the President to nominate an atheist judge, arguing that such a move would be “a mighty blow in favor of the secular principles of ‘reason and freedom.’”

At the BLT, Tony Mauro reports on the Supreme Court’s “two relatively low-profile decisions” issued on Monday, Hui v. Castaneda and Renico v. Lett.  Robert Barnes of the Washington Post, David Savage of the L.A. Times, Adam Liptak of the New York Times, and Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle all have coverage of Hui.  At the Sentencing Law Blog, Douglas Berman covers Renico, though he expresses disappointment that the Court did not release its opinions in Graham v. Florida or Sullivan v. Florida, the juvenile life-without-parole cases argued earlier this Term.  The ACS Blog also recaps Monday’s Supreme Court proceedings

Monday’s announcement that, for security reasons, visitors to the Court will not longer be able to enter through the famous front door garnered headlines: Robert Barnes at the Washington Post, David Savage at the L.A. Times, Fred Barbisch of Politico, and Joan Biskupic of USA Today all have coverage.  Adam Liptak of the New York Times calls it a “decision ripe with symbolism about access to justice in the age of terror,” while Frank James at NPR’s Two-Way Blog frames the decision as “one more example…of how security concerns have narrowed how visitors can experience one of the world’s most remarkable cities.”

Numerous commentators weighed in on both the move and on the â€œdissent” issued by Justices Breyer and Ginsburg, who characterized the move as “unfortunate” and “dispiriting” [PDF; see page 779].  At the BLT, Tony Mauro calls the pair’s public statement “a rare glimpse into internal disagreement” between the Justices. Ashby Jones at the WSJ Law Blog expresses his disappointment, describing an entrance “through those doors [as] an inspiring and cool experience.” In an essay at the Washington Post, Philip Kennicott laments that the closure “will enforce new and unwanted meanings on one of the city’s most dramatic and successful public buildings,” and he urges the Court to “rescind a decision that warps the symbolism of its own home.” The editorial board at the New York Times takes the opportunity to call for a different type of “openness”:  allowing Court proceedings to be televised.  At First One @ One First, Mike Sacks reflects on his experiences entering the door this Term; in his view, climbing the Court’s iconic steps is a bonding experience that transcends political and ideological differences. On the lighter side, John Elwood notes at the Volokh Conspiracy that Justice Breyer, whom he calls “famously willing to look to foreign law” in his legal reasoning, also appealed to the fact that no international supreme courts have closed their doors in response to security threats.

In his Sidebar column for the New York Times, Adam Liptak asserts that the Court is “quite likely” to hear oral argument in Republican National Committee. v. FEC, the RNC’s attempt to eliminate caps on contributions to political parties. Liptak highlights the changes to Supreme Court election law jurisprudence brought about by Citizens United v. FEC, and he concludes that the Court is “leaning more and more toward the deregulation of money and speech in federal campaigns.” At the Election Law Blog, Rick Hasen responds by explaining several legal and practical reasons why he feels that the Court may “simply summarily affirm in the case.”

Several media outlets covered Monday’s denials of cert. in several notable cases.  Warren Richey of the Christian Science Monitor covers Boy Scouts v. Barnes-Wallace, which will now return to the Ninth Circuit for further proceedings.  In another piece at the Monitor, Richey reports on the cert. denial in Markell v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball; James Vicini of Reuters also has coverage. Bill Mears at CNN and Carol Williams of the L.A. Times highlight the denial of cert. in Carty v. Thaler.

Finally, Abdon Pallasch of the Chicago Sun-Times and Bob Secter and Ameet Sachdev of the Chicago Tribune report on Justice Stevens’ public comments in Chicago to the Seventh Circuit Bar Association.  The justice noted with pride his proper recollection of Babe Ruth’s “Called Shot” game in 1932, telling audience members that he assigned law clerks to research the matter when another account conflicted with his memories of the game. And at the ABA Journal, Allen Pusey reports on two young lawyers who were thrilled to recognize singer Justin Bieber on their Chicago-bound flight, only to later find out, to their chagrin, that they failed to identify “a friendly looking gentleman in a bow tie sitting in an aisle seat” – Justice Stevens.