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Friday round-up

Coverage continues of Senate Democrats’ failure to block a Republican filibuster of the DISCLOSE Act, a legislative response to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. At ACSblog, Jeffrey D. Clements discusses the filibuster of the Act, lamenting that “a minority of Senators representing a fraction of the American people killed even the modest response of requiring reporting and disclosure of corporate political spending, and restricting such spending by certain foreign corporations and government contractors.”

The Christian Science Monitor’s editorial board suggests that Democrats seek “more disclosure in campaign financing” by “confer[ring] closely with willing moderate Republicans.” The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Jay Bookman instead proposes a terse constitutional amendment: “A corporation or union is not a natural person.”

Robert Reich, also at the Christian Science Monitor, discusses Citizens United in the context of the BP oil spill. He argues that “essentially no laws have been changed” in response to the spill “[b]ecause of Big Oil’s political clout.” Since Citizens United, he writes, corporations “can now spend or threaten to spend unlimited amounts of money in support of [or opposition to] any politician.”

Turning to recent lower court activity, Sentencing Law and Policy’s Doug Berman discusses a Third Circuit opinion upholding, as consistent with the Second Amendment, a conviction “for possession of a handgun with an obliterated serial number.” Berman describes the opinion as “a must-read for anyone following the development of Second Amendment jurisprudence.” The Legal Intelligencer’s Shannon P. Duffy summarizes that opinion, which Orin Kerr excerpts at the Volokh Conspiracy. (Thanks to How Appealing for the former link.) The Washington Post’s Maria Glod reports that gun rights advocates yesterday challenged “Maryland’s restrictions on handgun carry permits.”

In the wake of Wednesday’s decision by a federal judge deeming portions of Arizona’s controversial immigration law facially unconstitutional, David Savage of the Los Angeles Times predicts that the Supreme Court is likely to weigh in on that statute, and he notes that the Court “has taken a dim view in recent years of judges striking down state laws based on broad challenges to laws that have not taken effect.”

The WSJ Law Blog’s Ashby Jones reports that attorneys for former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling “are seeking to obtain bail for [him] following [Skilling v. United States, which threw] into doubt his 2006 conviction for fraud and conspiracy.” The Boston Globe’s Andrea Estes reports that, also based on Skilling, former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi’s lawyer is seeking dismissal or “[drastic]” limitation of the corruption charges against DiMasi.

Finally, the potential confirmation of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court continues to elicit coverage. The editorial board of the Washington Times urges the Senate to investigate Kagan’s role in the policy statement issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists on partial-birth abortion.  The Christian Science Monitor’s Warren Richey observes that if Kagan is confirmed, “she will become only the sixth former Supreme Court law clerk to…become a [J]ustice.”


  • At the Wall Street Journal, Eric Felten evaluates Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, S.A., which will be argued next Term. Felten argues that if the Court constrains the “first sale doctrine”—which holds that “once a copyright holder sells a copy of his work, he loses any say in what the buyer can do with that particular copy”—it will “throw a wrench into the business of used-book stores, garage sales (including the electronic garage sale that is eBay), and any and every sort of secondhand shop.”
  • At the Opinionator Blog of the New York Times, Linda Greenhouse discusses Simmons v. Galvin, in which the Court called for the views of the Solicitor General. At issue in the case is “whether laws that take away the right to vote from people in prison or on parole can be challenged under the Voting Rights Act as racially discriminatory.”