Monthly Archives: February 2013

The End of the Civil Rights Era?

Notables of the civil rights movement sat in the audience as the Supreme Court yesterday heard arguments in a major challenge to the Voting Rights Act, Shelby County v. Holder6a00d8341cd0df53ef017d415a1141970c-800wi
From 1965 when President Johnson signed it into law to the election of the first African-American president, the Voting Rights Act has been the most important and successful civil rights law ever passed. So successful that a slim majority of the Court seem to think that its most important part, Section 5, is so outdated it’s no longer constitutional.

Justice Scalia,below, to Solicitor General Verrilli on why the were no votes against the 2006 reauthorization in the Senate, “I think that’s attributable to a phenomenon that has been called the perpetuation of racial entitlements.”

Bob Barnes has WaPo story here.


Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: , , , ,

DNA “Fingerprinting”?

Maryland and 27 other states have laws that permit the taking of a DNA sample, usually by cheek swab, at the time of arrest, much like fingerprinting a suspect. Maryland’s high court vacated the conviction of Alonzo King whose DNA, taken during an unrelated arrest in 2009, linked him to a 2003 rape. On Tuesday the Supreme Court heard arguments in Maryland v. King.


NYT’s Adam Liptak writes about it here.

Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: ,

The View From the Frieze

I drew this from a great little scale model of the courtroom on exhibit on the ground floor of  the Supreme Court building. For something like this you have to get a head start. I’ll finished up on argument day.



Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: ,

I Am Guilty, Your Honor


A sad day yesterday as a tearful Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty in a courtroom filled with friends and family, including his father, Jesse Jackson Sr.

The Judge who accepted Jackson’s plea, Robert L. Wilkins, had, while a student at Harvard Law, supported the presidential campaign of Jesse Jackson Sr., and offered to recuse himself. Neither side thought that necessary.

Shown above, Jackson is at the lectern flanked by his lawyers. Supporters and family are in the background, while government prosecutors sit in the right foreground. 6a00d8341cd0df53ef017d4132f7cb970c-800wi

Jackson’s wife, and former Chicago alderman, Sandi Jackson also entered a plea for hiding income. She is shown here with her lawyer, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Dan Webb.6a00d8341cd0df53ef017c3703a8ac970b-800wi

She too wept …

Chicago Sun-Times story here.



Posted in Congress, Courtroom Tagged with: ,

Supreme Court Back From Winter Break

Chief Justice Roberts stopped by the press room Tuesday morning to welcome back reporters. He said the Court would be announcing quite a few opinions, so be prepared to work through lunch.

Below are sketches of arguments the Court heard in Bowman v. Monsanto.

Monsanto sells its brand of genetically engineered soybean seed to farmers with the stipulation that they will not replant the crop seed. Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman abided by Monsanto’s rules when he planted his first crop, but for a second late-season crop he decided to plant seed purchased from a grain elevator figuring much of it would seed grown from Monsanto’s Rounup resistant strain. He was right, but Monsanto sued.

Bowman’s lawyer, Mark Walters, had a hard time convincing Justices that once Monsanto sold its seed the patent was exhausted. “The Exhaustion Doctrine permits you to use the goods that you buy,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said. “It never permits you to make another item from the item that you bought.”

Monsanto’s lawyer Seth P. Waxman said the company “never would have produced what is, by now the most popular agricultural technology in America” if the patent had been so easily exhausted.

WaPo story here.


Posted in Arguments, Supreme Court Tagged with: , ,

McMahon’s Drawings of the Emmett Till Murder Trial

The blog Today’s Inspiration this week posted a fascinating 1968 Famous Artists Magazine interview with artist-reporter Franklin McMahon who died last March. It is worth a read. McMahon was one of the greatest practitioners of visual journalism. He knew how to find a story and sell it to editors. As far as I know the only trial he covered was the 1955 trial for the murder of Emmett Till. The images posted here are from that trial.

This is McMahon’s sketch of Till’s uncle, Mose Wright, pointing to one of the defendants in the courtroom.

And this is the same moment serruptitiously captured from a different angle by photographer Ernest Withers.








Posted in History Tagged with: ,
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