RACIAL GERRYMANDERING HEADED TO SCOTUS | Dissent Over Death Penalty | RBG Reminds Of Need For Term Limits
November 13, 2018
THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING|
Gerrymandering, the issue that continues to find its way before the Supreme Court, will be yet again on the docket this term. The justices decided today to take up the issue of redistricting in Virginia to consider an appeal filed by Republican legislators after a lower court’s ruling that 11 House of Delegates districts must be redrawn to correct racial gerrymandering.
“The rest of the country may be in turmoil these days. On the U.S. Supreme Court bench, it’s all harmony. In the five weeks since BRETT KAVANAUGH became the newest justice after a divisive confirmation fight, the court’s members are going out of their way to offer public displays of collegiality during arguments.” That’s Greg Stohr with Bloomberg reporting on the “warm-and-fuzzy” atmosphere at the high court so far this term, which he thinks is made easy given how low stakes the cases have been. Stohr adds, “But it also seems to reflect a conscious effort by the justices to set a tone very different from the bitter one that overtook the Senate during the Kavanaugh fight.”
The Supreme Court’s eldest justice, RUTH BADER GINSBURG, missed a sitting of the court today as she continues to recover from fracturing three ribs last week. There were no arguments today but justices were on the bench to release orders. The current schedule notes SCOTUS won’t hear any more arguments until after the Thanksgiving holiday.
In the Los Angeles Times, Michael McGough opines on JUSTICE GINSBURG’S most recent health issue and responds to the predictable anxiety around what her absence might mean for the future ideological composition of the court. He points to Fix the Court’s suggestion of term limits to mitigate the politicization of Supreme Court appointments and argues that it’s an idea worth discussing given the “dysfunction” of the SCOTUS confirmation process.
MIND THE SARCASM|
Among the orders handed down today were a series of rejections of death penalty appeals from Florida. Joan Biskupic with CNN reports, “Key justices laid bare the enduring divisions over the fairness and effectiveness of the ultimate punishment.” JUSTICE STEPHEN BREYER was of course an outspoken voice on the issue, noting there are flaws in the current practice of capital punishment. Meanwhile, JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS, who has been one of the most vocal supporters of the death penalty, said the death sentences are taking too long to carry out. Biskupic writes, “Thomas’ evident sarcasm and the larger clash with Breyer reveal age-old differences between justices at two ends of the ideological spectrum over capital punishment. Despite objections from individual liberals over the years, a court majority has not wavered in its view of the constitutionality of the system that the Supreme Court reinstated in 1976.”
SCOTUS VIEWSThe Washington Post
“By treating the Supreme Court as a willing ally rather than a neutral arbiter, Trump’s lawyers are encouraging a dangerously cynical view of an institution whose public legitimacy is its very lifeblood. Worse, by filing a slew of irregular petitions that require immediate action, the department is forcing the court to navigate a political minefield.”The Washington Post
“The stakes are too small to justify the risks of involving federal courts in this sordid political business. America’s partisan gerrymandering problem is real, but it’s on its way to being cured, with no need for federal judicial intervention. And if that intervention is not necessary, it’s probably not proper.”
OTHER NEWSThe Baltimore Sun
“The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday denied an appeal from five Baltimore Police officers in a case in which they alleged they were wrongfully prosecuted for the death of Freddie Gray by Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. The decision brings the case to an end, in Mosby’s favor. It leaves intact a May decision by a Richmond, Va.-based federal appeals court that blocked the officers’ lawsuit on the grounds that prosecutors have immunity from such charges. The officers had appealed that court’s decision to the Supreme Court in October.”Vox
“Falls and broken bones can be serious health setbacks for the elderly. And this is by no means RBG’s first brush with hospitals. She’s lived through many personal and familial medical dramas — all of which she’s bounced back from. Given the high stakes many liberals attach to Ginsburg’s health, it’s worth looking at what the justice has endured through her life. Her track record is a testament to her special tenacity, but also to how incredibly resilient humans can be.”Bloomberg Law
“Jones Day cornered the market among the major law firms jockeying to hire from the small, elite group of Supreme Court clerks, many of whom also clerked for judges at the federal appeals and district court level. The 11 clerks joining Jones Day’s issues and appeals practice could command impressive signing bonuses, which have gone as high as $350,000 at some firms in recent years.”