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Thursday round-up

Yesterday Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine became the fourth Republican senator to announce that she would vote in favor of Elena Kagan’s confirmation to the Court.  Brief coverage of Snowe’s announcement is available at the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire blog, the Ninth Justice, the Boston Globe, and CQ Politics.  The editorial board of the Washington Times questions Snowe’s public assurance that Kagan regards the Court’s recent decisions in Heller and McDonald as “settled law,” suggesting that Kagan will instead “follow the same path” as Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who dissented in McDonald.  The Caucus blog of the New York Times calls the announcement unsurprising, given Snowe’s earlier votes for Sotomayor and for Kagan as Solicitor General.  The Times also has an infographic with a running tally of committed Republican votes in the Senate.

Discussion and analysis of the Democratic failure to defeat a Republican filibuster on the DISCLOSE Act, a response to the Court’s decision in Citizens United, continues.  (We compiled news coverage of the unsuccessful vote yesterday.)  The American Prospect’s TAPPED blog discusses the opposition of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who called the bill “a transparent effort to rig the fall election.”  At the Atlantic,  DISCLOSE supporter Ben Heineman decries the Democrats’ failure to muster a single Republican vote for closing debate.  The Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board also laments the outcome of the vote, while criticizing the bill as a “weak response” to the Court’s ruling.  A Washington Post reference page briefly summarizes the Court’s holding in Citizens United and what the bill would do in response.  Newsweek has a round-up of commentary on the vote.


●        At a speech at Montana State University yesterday, Justice Scalia said that judges are not qualified to decide “the leading moral questions of the day” and that the big dividing line in the United States is between “those who believe [the Constitution] does not change and those who think it evolves.” The MSU News Service and the Bozeman Daily have coverage.

●        The Wall Street Journal reports that former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling is seeking to be released on bail following the Court’s June decision narrowing the scope of the law under which he was convicted.

●        Douglas Berman at Sentencing Law & Policy posts a proposal by a federal district court judge to hold trial judges accountable – in light of their increased discretion to depart from federal sentencing guidelines – by publishing their sentencing decisions.

●        At the Chronicle on Higher Education, Richard Kahlenberg discusses how a new case in the Fifth Circuit raises a lingering question from the 2003 affirmative action decision in Grutter v. Bollinger: “[H]ow vigorously do universities need to pursue race-neutral alternatives to affirmative action before resorting to racial preferences in admissions?”