Breaking News

Wednesday round-up

As President Obama interviewed a fourth candidate for the impending vacancy on the Supreme Court, nomination coverage is accelerating and beginning to include speculation on the timing of the announcement. The President and Vice President met with Judge Diane Wood of the Seventh Circuit yesterday, as the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, TIME’s The Page blog, Jan Crawford’s blog for CBS News, Lynn Sweet’s blog for the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Washington Post’s 44 blog all note. The New York Times’s The Caucus blog and Above the Law report that Judge Wood had canceled her class at the University of Chicago yesterday without explanation. Following Merrick Garland, Elena Kagan, and Sidney Thomas, Judge Wood is the fourth candidate to have a face-to-face interview at the White House.

As for the timing of the selection, Sam Stein of the Huffington Post reports that an announcement is most likely to come early next week. Talking Points Memo’s Christina Bellantoni put it this way on Monday: “Congressional and White House sources told me they think it’s possible there will be a nominee by the end of this week, but certainly in the coming two weeks.” has already shut down its betting on the nomination and issued a final prediction based on its members’ votes: Elena Kagan.

On Monday, Christopher Brooks at the National Law Journal urged the president to choose Leah Ward Sears, a former Georgia Supreme Court chief justice who might draw supporters from the left and right. (For background materials on Judge Sears, see the Daily Report.)  Meanwhile, Andrea Stone at AOL News suggested that Janet Napolitano’s prospects have dimmed in light of two recent national security emergencies — the Gulf oil spill and the attempted bombing in Times Square — that will demand the homeland security secretary’s full attention in the coming months.

In the L.A. Times, Christi Parsons and David Savage report that “[r]ight after President Obama learned a vacancy would be opening on the Supreme Court, he sent his staff on a targeted hunt for a rare breed he called ‘the consensus builder.’” There could be some political risk in selecting a consensus builder, however, as Jesse Holland of the Associated Press (via the Washington Post) describes: “[C]hoosing a consensus-building moderate rather than a liberal in the mold of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens” will register with liberals as “a significant betrayal for an administration that will need help from its hard-core supporters in a fierce confirmation battle and midterm congressional elections.” Meanwhile, in an interview with NPR, the Daily Beast’s Peter Beinart continues to argue that the President should consider another quality in choosing the next Justice: being a mother. The National Law Journal reports on the recently released financial reports of sitting judges, which reveal at least partially reimbursed travel expenses over the last year for several short-list candidates, among them Wood — the biggest traveler — and Garland.  Finally, Jess Bravin has a story in the Wall Street Journal on the role that former clerks play in promoting their judges when Supreme Court vacancies arise. As Bravin puts it, “[w]hen it comes to building buzz for a would-be high-court nominee, few are as useful as protégés who have gone on to higher places.”

In non-nomination coverage, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor “said a tough new immigration law passed in her home state of Arizona ‘may have gone a little too far’ and predicted it would be the subject of extensive litigation,” reports Jim Carlton of the Wall Street Journal. Even so, Justice O’Connor asks that the bill’s critics not boycott Arizona, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The controversy over the new Arizona law brings increased attention to a challenge to a prior Arizona law aimed at businesses that employ undocumented workers. That challenge is pending before the Supreme Court, which called for the views of the Solicitor General in early November 2009. “[S]uch a wait could signal disagreements among government agencies,” writes Politico’s Josh Gerstein. And speaking of waiting, the Legal Pulse’s Glenn Lammi lists his five most anticipated cases of the Term that are still undecided, along with the number of days since each was argued.

Based on Justice Scalia’s questions in last week’s argument in Doe v. Reed—questions that garnered praise from an editorial in the L.A. Times—SCOTUSblog’s Tom Goldstein predicts that “the Supreme Court would uphold disclosure provisions like those set forth in the DISCLOSE Act, at least as applied to the expenditures by corporations and unions that were at issue in Citizens United.” (The DISCLOSE Act is a proposed legislative response to the Court’s decision in Citizens United. Jessica Schumer discussed the DISCLOSE Act at ACSblog yesterday.) At Election Law Blog, Rick Hasen adds some of his own thoughts to Goldstein’s: “I would not count on [Justice Scalia’s] vote for those portions of the DISCLOSE Act which would limit spending by corporations with government contracts/TARP recipients. I’m also not sure where he will be on the foreign corporate spending ban.”


  • The BLT highlights a possible amendment to the financial regulatory reform bill that Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) is proposing. The amendment would overrule the Court’s January 2008 decision in Stoneridge v. Scientific-Atlanta by allowing suits against “aiders and abettors” of securities fraud.
  • ACSblog highlights a new ACS Issue Brief arguing that the Supreme Court has grown increasingly hostile to litigation; the brief traces that hostility to a lack of diversity in the Justices’ professional backgrounds.
  • A Sonia Sotomayor biography comic book is hitting stores today, reports Tom Schoenberg for The BLT.
  • At Crime & Consequences, Bill Otis reports back from a Justice Scalia law clerk reunion dinner that “[i]t was interesting that [Justice Scalia] went out of his way to compliment Justice Sotomayor for her intelligence and work ethic.”
  • At Above the Law, David Lat recaps Justice Stevens’s appearance at the Seventh Circuit Judicial Conference, where he introduced Elena Kagan as the evening’s keynote speaker.