By Suhrith Parthasarathy
During the Feb. 4 confirmation hearings of Court of Appeals nominee Jenny Rivera before the New York State Judiciary Committee, Senator John DeFrancisco asked Rivera pointed questions about her approach to equal protection laws, as Reuters reported. DeFrancisco was concerned in particular by a 2007 piece Rivera had contributed to the Washington Law Review about classification based on terms such as "Hispanic" and "Latino.” Would Rivera be able to rule objectively in equal protection cases, DeFrancisco asked.
Rivera in essence responded that her scholarly work would have little to no influence on her judicial rulings - a common, albeit puzzling answer from professor-nominees, writes Orin Kerr in The Volokh Conspiracy.
Such a position doesn’t offer a satisfactory account of what judges actually do or of what legal scholars should do, writes Kerr. He says that he hopes a scholar’s interpretation of the Constitution would be more than a “throw-away thought experiment.” But given the nature of these hearings, he proposes a different and more accurate answer for nominees to use: “Nominees to lower federal courts and state courts can legitimately say that they will ignore their own scholarship on federal law (at least in subjects with lots of precedents on the books) because that scholarship was directed to the very different audience of the U.S. Supreme Court - a court to which they have not been nominated.”
Rivera’s nomination has nonetheless been forwarded to the full Senate with the committee voting 14-8.
By Dan Brillman
Supreme Court Justice
Sonia Sotomayor, in the midst of a flurry
of book-promoting public appearances, is scheduled to speak at an April conference entitled “Vision,
Values, Voice: Women Changing a Changing World.”
The program is being given by her alma mater, Yale, but will be sponsored in
large part by PepsiCo.
It turns out that PepsiCo
CEO Indra Nooyi has a seat on Yale’s board, and the company has
partnered with the school to study “nutritional research, such as metabolic
syndrome, diabetes, and obesity.” Yale’s
relationship with PepsiCo has long rankled some alumni, who are now seizing on Sotomayor’s appearance to attack,
The New York Times. “The very idea that she would be headlining a Pepsi event
is shocking,” Louise Harpman told the paper. “I didn’t go to Pepsi University.”
Also, the Times asks, shouldn’t Sotomayor, who details her lifelong struggle
with diabetes in her book, distance herself from a company that makes $1 billion annually through sales of its
soda, Frito-Lay and Gatorade (to name a few), products some have charged are
improperly targeted at children and minorities? And what of this
elite school/corporate coterie?
Both the high court and legal ethicists say it’s much ado
about nothing. “Justice Sotomayor was invited by her alma mater and views the
conference as a Yale event,” said Kathleen Arberg, a
Supreme Court spokeswoman. “Her appearance
does not suggest any form of endorsement of PepsiCo.”
The abuser's gun
By Anna Louie Sussman
Laura Acevez had a domestic violence restraining order
against her former boyfriend, Victor Acuna-Sanchez, so federal law should have
prevented him from buying or possessing a gun. Acuna-Sanchez
was nevertheless able to obtain a .22-caliber handgun and kill his former
partner in her apartment, in what
the Huffington Post reports is just one
of 90 instances of women shot to death by their partners or family members
since the December shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
A federal law advises convicted domestic abusers to dispose
of their guns and ammunition, but it is up to states to enact legislation to
seize an abuser’s guns. In states where background checks for handgun sales are
required, 38 percent fewer women are shot by their partners, Senator Patrick
Leahy (D—Vt.) testified last week during a Senate
hearing on the link between gun violence and domestic abuse.
The National Rifle Association opposes universal background
Acevez’s mother, Laura Ponce, told
the Huffington Post that she thinks her daughter could still be alive if
police had taken Acuna-Sanchez’s guns away. “She was beat up many, many times. But this last time, he
premeditated everything and he brought a gun. He decided that was going to be
the end of it,” Ponce said.
Are you smarter than DLA Piper?
By Ted Botha
DLA Piper, the biggest law firm in the world, has by its own
count more than 4,200 lawyers in four dozen countries. But the
firm's geography appears a little shaky, at least on its
website, notes Elie Mystal on Above the Law. He is referring to
a chart where DLA Piper lists all of its offices.
On the chart the firm places Port Louis, Kigali, Kampala and
Gaborone in the "country" of Africa. Anyone who looked at a map
(ahem!) would know these cities are located in the actual
countries of Mauritius, Rwanda, Uganda and Botswana. On DLA's
homepage, moreover, none of these four countries or their cities
are mentioned at all.
"Just to be clear," writes Mystal, "Africa is not a country.
It's a continent. There are a lot of countries on that
continent, and no, they don't all look the same." A firm
wanting to do business on said continent might at least identify
its nations properly, "even if their names don't roll off a
Westernized tongue," says Mystal.
Summary Judgments for February 6
Summary Judgments for February 5
Summary Judgments for February 4
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