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Wednesday round-up

Yesterday the Supreme Court refused to stay the scheduled execution of a Virginia prisoner, Teresa Lewis, who admitted that she planned the killings of her husband and stepson in 2002. Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor would have granted the application to stay the execution. Lewis is now likely to be the first woman executed in the United States in five years, and the first in Virginia in nearly one hundred. The Washington Post, CNN, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, ABC News, BBC, and the New York Times all have coverage of the story.

Justice Ginsburg is featured in next month’s ABA Journal, which has a cover story on Ginsburg’s “career as a lawyer and judge; [her] marriage to her late husband, Martin; and … the changes that women have seen in law and parenthood.” (Two audio clips of the ABA Journal’s interview with Ginsburg are available here and here.) The new issue of the Journal includes several additional features pertaining to the Supreme Court. Mark Walsh looks ahead to several high-profile cases of the upcoming Term, as well as the addition of Elena Kagan to the bench. John Gibeaut and Wendy Davis provide substantial previews of Snyder v. Phelps, the funeral picketing case, and Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, the vaccine liability case, respectively. And Georgetown law student Mike Sacks reflects on the six months he spent attempting to be first in the public line for all Supreme Court sittings. (Thanks to How Appealing and Howard Bashman for the links.)


  • In the Los Angeles Times, Jim Newton reviews Justice Breyer’s new book Making Our Democracy Work, writing that the book “extends [Breyer’s] public ruminations with what are becoming his hallmarks: wisdom, modesty, incisiveness and a touch of naiveté.” (See Monday’s round-up for links to more reviews of the book.) Justice Breyer’s recent appearance on Charlie Rose is available here.
  • Responding to a recent story on ideological patterns of clerk hiring at the Court, the New York Times editorial board suggests ways to “solve the problem,” such as random assignment of clerks to Justices.
  • The Blog of LegalTimes reports that the Court has asked a record company to respond to a cert. petition filed by a student who was sued for downloading music illegally. The call for a response, Tony Mauro writes, “is a sign of the Court’s interest in the case.”
  • In his Sidebar column for the New York Times, Adam Liptak reports the back story of a cert. petition pending at the Court, in which a mother lost contact with her young child – also a U.S. citizen – for three years when the child was deported to Mexico with her father.  [Disclosure:  Howe & Russell and Akin Gump are counsel to the mother in this case.]
  • The Washington Post editorial board urges the Court to take up the case of Cory Maples, an Alabama death row inmate whose opportunity to file a federal habeas challenge was thwarted by a mailroom error at his attorneys’ law firm.
  • In Newsweek, Stuart Taylor Jr. considers how the Supreme Court might act on challenges to the new health-care law.
  • The New York Times offers an overview of recent gay rights litigation in the federal courts, concluding that “the ultimate question” in the litigation will be whether a majority of the Court “will agree with the district court judges’ interpretation of the court’s own rulings in cases like Lawrence v. Texas.”
  • In his column for FindLaw, Michael Dorf examines the “fundamental constitutional and prudential questions” surrounding Senator Specter’s proposal to require the Supreme Court to allow video cameras into oral arguments.
  • The Las Vegas Sun’s Nevada Wonk blog has a post on retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s meeting with the Sun’s editorial board, in which she advocated for merit selection of state judges. (Thanks to How Appealing and Howard Bashman for the link.)