The Supreme Court began the October 2013 term with a new Clerk and a not so good argument.
The new Clerk of the Court, Scott Harris can be seen standing on the left as the Justices take the bench.
The first argument of the new term, an age discrimination case from Illinois, ran into trouble right from the beginning when Justices began to question whether the case should even be before them. The lower circuit court, it seems, should not have ruled before the matter was brought to trial.
The last words from respondent’s lawyer, after being admonished by Justice Scalia, were, “we could have done a better job”.
Lyle Denniston has the story here.
After federal employee Warren Hillman divorced his wife Judy Maretta and married Jaqueline Hillman he never changed the beneficiary on his life insurance. When he died the approximately $125,000. benefit went to his ex-wife.
Maybe, as Justice Breyer asked, “he secretly wants to leave the insurance in the name of his first wife while pretending to the second wife it was just an oversight.”
Lyle Denniston covers the argument here.
Yesterday the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the U.S. government can require NGO’s working overseas to fight HIV and AIDS to espouse an anti-prostitution policy as a requirement to receiving funds.
The case is Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Scociety International.
You can read about it here.
The Supreme Court Justices had a tough time yesterday trying to balance the interests of a child, known as Baby Veronica, with the shameful history of removing American Indian children from their families. The Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, enacted in 1978, gives tribes a strong role in the adoption of Indian children.
In the case of Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl an unwed mother gave up for adoption her child fathered by a part-Cherokee father. The father had expressed no interest in the upbringing of the child until he was informed of the adoption. After being raised by its adoptive parents for about a year the baby girl was transfered to her father who won custody in federal court under the ICWA.
Mark Walsh has the story here.
In considering whether human genes may be patented the Justices of the Supreme Court searched near and far for analogies to help them grasp the complexities of bio-science. Here are a few sketches from the oral arguments along with a few choice quotes.
Justice Sotomayor : “I can bake a chocolate chip cookie using natural ingredients – salt, flour, eggs, butter … And if I combust those in some new way, I can get a patent on that. But I can’t imagine getting a patent on the basic items …”
Justice Alito : “To get back to your baseball bat example, which at least I can understand better than perhaps some of this biochemistry. I suppose that in … I don’t know how many millions of years trees have been around, but in all of that time possibly someplace a branch has fallen off a tree …. into the ocean and it’s been manipulated by the waves, and then something’s been washed up on shore, and what do you know, it’s a baseball bat.”
Justice Breyer : “… so when Captain Ferno goes to the Amazon and discovers fifty new types of plants, saps and medicines …. although that expedition was expensive, although nobody had found it before, he can’t get a patent on the thing itself.”
And here’s a quick sketch of people lining up outside the Supreme Court in the rain Monday morning to get a seat for the arguments.
SCOTUSblog’s Lyle Denniston has the argument recap here.
The above sketch shows members of the Supreme Court bar waiting on the ground floor before being led up to the “great hall” were they will stand in line before being seated to hear oral arguments in U.S. v. Windsor, the second of two same-sex marriage cases heard by the Court this week.
Once again I’m just too beat after a long day to comment, so I’ll just post the sketches.
Allison Trzop has the SCOTUSblog round-up here.
The Supreme Court today heard arguments in the first of two same-sex marriage cases. I’m just going to post my sketches without comment as I’m totaly beat. But glad to have been there.
The case is Hollingsworth v. Perry
Tom Goldstein’s take on the arguments is here.
Supap Kirtsaeng, a native of Thailand attending college in the U.S., found a clever way to help pay his way. He had his family in Thailand buy and ship to him textbooks which he then resold at a profit netting him around $100,000.
Normally if you purchase a book, or music CD or even a computer you have the right to resell it. But the publisher in this case took the student to court arguing that because the books were printed and sold abroad the “first-sale doctrine” did not apply.
Today, in an opinion by Justice Breyer, the Supreme Court came down 6-3 on the side of the student.
You can read about it on SCOTUSblog, here.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, right, watched as Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne defended Proposition 200, a state law that requires additional proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. O’Connor was on a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel that rejected the law.
The case is Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Cuoncil of Arizona
Lyle Denniston writes about it here.
When anthrax started showing up in the mail shortly after 9/11 it was detected in the Supreme Court as well. The Court kept to its schedule by moving a few blocks away to convene in the D.C. Circuit’s ceremonial courtroom.
I’d been looking for this sketch for several years thinking it had been lost, but in fact had matted and framed it for exhibit and never returned it to the files. I found last week while moving stuff to storage. It shows Solicitor General Ted Olson arguing in Adarand Constructors v. Mineta. Seated in the foreground are NYT’s Linda Greenhouse, left, and NPR’s Nina Totenberg.
CNN story on the Court’s move is here.