By Carlyn Kolker
You thought six hours was a long time
Great graphic alert! You probably know that the Supreme Court is reserving a lot of time (six hours) for advocates to present their case before the court later this month in the monumental challenge to Obama's health care legislation. Well, how does that square with the time spent on other big cases?
Oyez Today, a part of the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, has put together a list of the Supreme Court's longest arguments since 1955. (My Reuters colleague Terry Baynes has also chronicled some of the long arguments before the court). The winner of the modern era was Arizona v. California, a water rights case, argued in 1962 (it took 16 hours). Most of the lengthy cases took place in the 1960s and 70s; maybe lawyers just had more to say then? (To be fair, until 1970, the standard length of argument was two hours; today it is one).
For a case-by-case listing of the Supreme Court cases being heard this term, check out our infographic.
Fork it Over
Ever been to famed New York restaurant Babbo, run by famed restaurateur Mario Batali? Your waitress, bartender or busser it turns out, may have been stiffed some cash. Batali and his business partners are set to pay $5.2 million to settle class-action claims by 117 employees and former employees, who say they were denied overtime pay and tips, Huffington Post reports, citing Law360 for breaking the news on Tuesday. A representative for Batali and his partner Joe Bastianich declined to comment to HuffPo. A final settlement in the case, which was filed in federal court in Manhattan, is expected in June.
Yes, another day, another post on Justice Antonin Scalia's speaking whereabouts. Scalia, of course, is not the only Supreme Court justice who goes on the lecture circuit. Justice Clarence Thomas visited Wake Forest University School of Law on Tuesday, and in early April Justice Sonia Sotomayor will lecture the University of the District of Columbia School of Law. But Scalia does have a tendency to dole out witticisms and career advice - not to mention for exciting emotions even before he steps onto the podium. Such is the case at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, known for its liberal-leaning student body. Scalia is scheduled to speak at the University's Memorial Chapel at 8 pm on Thursday. Two hours before, a group calling itself the Scalia Welcoming Committee plans to protest the justice's presence; some will be dressed like prisoners at Guantanamo Bay (to protest his rulings on the rights of prisoners at the facility); others will dress as billionaires, "to symbolize Scalia's alleged corruption and role in Citizens United," according to the Middletown Press.
The Wesleyan Argus, the school's newspaper, has a series of letters from students protesting Scalia's presence on the campus. A few excerpts: "This university deserves a speaker who can open up discourse about bettering the United States and the world, about confronting the status quo with optimism and ingenuity"; "Scalia not only has the distinction of using his position to defend anti-sodomy laws, to aid in the unleashing of a torrent of corporate money onto our elections, to argue in favor of the execution of minors, and to appoint George Bush as President, he has also been the focus of three corruption scandals in the past decade"; "In striving for original meaning in the constitution, Justice Scalia operates through an unacknowledged lens of whiteness and power that is accepted as original and unbiased."
Against this backdrop, we can't wait to hear what Scalia has to say.
Law professor gets her 15 minutes
Upon occasion, certain practicing lawyers, judges and yes, even law professors, take on rock-star status. Today, courtesy of the New York Times, we introduce you to Michelle Alexander, a professor at the Moritz College of Law Ohio State University who has written a bestselling-book on the racial politics of the U.S.'s so-called war on drugs. The book, called "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," has sold about 175,000 copies after coming out in paperback in January. The book, according to the Times, presents statistics and legal documents to support Alexander's theory that the war on drugs has "devastated black America." Alexander has been honored with standing-ovation treatment at talks around the country. "Everyone in the African-American community has been seeing exactly what she is talking about but couldn't put it into words," says Phillip Jackson of the Black Star Project, an education advocacy group in Chicago.
Holder raises hackles
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday gave one of those seminal speeches that splashed across newspapers not just all around the country, but around the world: Holder defended the right to kill Americans overseas who are plotting attacks against the U.S., Reuters reported. So far, most of the reactions to the speech have been critical, especially those coming from left-leaning sources. We welcome more diversity of views and indeed, hope to uncover them in coming days. What we've seen so far:
-In a column on The Guardian's website, law professor Jonathan Turley says that Holder is relying on the "trust me" approach to government, rather than relying on constitutional protections. Holder was "particularly cryptic in his assurance of caution in the use of [the power to kill citizens]," Turley notes, saying that this is why the framers of the constitution rejected the "trust me" approach to governing.
-In Slate, Emily Bazelon faults Holder for a speech "without much meat" that failed to explain how the executive branch's internal review process of targeted killing fulfills due process requirements. Bazelon also takes Holder to task for ignoring the logical conclusions of Holder's own assertions. For example, if Obama uses "extra-judicial powers" in some specific cases of targeted killing abroad, "what's to stop the next president from expanding upon it?"
-Writing in the Atlantic, Andrew Cohen calls the speech "a disappointment," and faults Holder for failing to release the White House's memos that provide the actual legal justification for its targeted killing policy. He also criticizes the Attorney General for failing to mention any Supreme Court precedent that would support its position. "Anyone who cares about this issue at all understands that what matters first is the legal rationale for the administration's drone-strike policy."
-Meanwhile, the Council on Foreign Relations posted a full copy of the speech on its website, should you want to peruse it yourself (and write your own reactions!)
Summary Judgments for March 6
Summary Judgments for March 5
Summary Judgments for March 2
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