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Tuesday round-up

As Lyle Denniston explains on this blog, late yesterday the Ninth Circuit delayed the granting of same-sex marriage licenses in California at least until December and ordered the proponents of Proposition 8 to brief the issue of their standing to challenge U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s August 4 decision striking down the law. Prior to the Ninth Circuit’s decision, Rick Hasen examined how the Supreme Court might treat a request for a stay on his Election Law Blog.  In today’s Washington Post, Edwin Meese has an op-ed piece in which he argues that Judge Walker’s decision ignored binding Supreme Court precedent – namely, Baker v. Nelson, a 1972 case that was dismissed for lack of a substantial federal question.

The Wall Street Journal and USA Today report that yesterday the Court declined to stay the fine levied against Orly Taitz – prominent spokesperson for the “birther” movement – for filing “frivolous litigation challenging President Obama’s citizenship.  Lyle Denniston also covered this story for the blog yesterday.

On Monday the Brennan Center for Justice, the National Institute on Money in State Politics and the Justice at Stake Campaign released a report tracking campaign spending on nationwide judicial elections. Justice O’Connor wrote an introduction for the report in which she contends that the growing influence of special interests is undermining public confidence in the courts – a sentiment that, according to Dan Eggen of the Washington Post, Justice Ginsburg shares.  But Think Progress notes that at least four members of the current Court may have a contrary view; in last year’s decision in Caperton v. Massey, Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Alito, Justice Thomas, and Justice Scalia dissented, arguing that election-based recusals would encourage “groundless” charges that other “judges are biased.”


  • Sentencing Law & Policy reprints the abstract from a new article by William Berry, who argues that life-without-parole sentences should receive “a unique form of Eighth Amendment scrutiny.”
  • At the Huffington Post, John Paul Rollert reviews the approach to empathy and judicial philosophy employed by Jeff Sessions during the Kagan confirmation battle.
  • Finally, yesterday marked the start of a new class of Supreme Court fellows, who will be working on problems and issues facing the judiciary. The BLT has coverage.