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.
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. Holder.
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.
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.
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.