The Judiciary

Kagan's electoral mark on Congress

With the announcement that Solicitor General Elena Kagan has been nominated to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, A.B. Stoddard is joined by Chris Kofinis and John Feehery to discuss her confirmation process and its impact on Congress.

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Obama judges

Much attention will be focused in the ensuing months on the appointment of Elena Kagan to the United States Supreme Court, deservedly. The merit of her appointment will be debated, as it should be. Unfortunately, less attention is being paid by the United States Senate, the media and the American public to the overall record of President Obama’s judicial appointments to the federal trial courts and courts of appeals. It is there where the overwhelming volume of cases is adjudicated. While the Supreme Court decided 71 cases in the 2007-08 term, for example, the trial and appellate courts during that period decided 30,000 cases.

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Courting Kagan

It is appropriate they waited for Vice President Biden to be back in town before President Obama announced Elena Kagan as his nominee to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. This is, after all, a big deal. Besides, Kagan had been an adviser to then-Sen. Biden (D-Del.).

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SCOTUS to play violent video games

Do violent video games inspire kids to commit acts of violence?

There are not two parents in this country who have not had that conversation between themselves and with their friends. But it’s soon going to go a lot higher: all the way to the Supreme Court.

This week, the court agreed to review the constitutionality of a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors. It’s a law that sponsors say is necessary to protect children from violence, but which video game-makers denounce as a violation of the First Amendment.

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The Supreme Court: Out of its (Ivy) league

Whatever else one says about Barack Obama, we can all agree that this is a man who battles to this day to overcome the disadvantages of his youth.

I refer, of course, to his Ivy League education. We can certainly admire his commitment to mingle with the common folk, even as we witness his struggles with the sense of superiority that for many graduates is Harvard's legacy. Or Yale's, or Princeton's, or the other Ivy ivory towers’.

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SCOTUS vacancy interrupts Dem agenda

The Hill's A.B. Stoddard answers viewer questions about what Democrats and Republicans will be pushing for before the 2012 elections, both legislatively and politically. A.B. offers some projections about the Republican Party's future leaders.


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Limiting state secrets

Federal trial judge Vaughn Walker, based in San Francisco, ruled that the National Security Agency policy of warrantless surveillance, a Bush administration antiterrorism policy, cannot be shrouded in secrecy. The government claimed in the litigation that it need not defend its position because doing so violated its policy of state secrets, under which the claim by executive officials precluded courts from going forward in cases on the merits.

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Another take on the court's ruling

In last week's column in The Hill, I admitted that I felt conflicted about the Supreme Court's important decision in the Citizens United Supreme Court case, which overturned a portion of the McCain-Feingold law that banned corporate advocacy ads before federal elections. I referred to my long-held beliefs that the First Amendment protection on speech — whether by a real "person" or a "corporation," defined as a person under the law — but also to my concerns that the Citizens United decision would unleash excessive cash into politically partisan advocacy by both corporations and unions. I also supported transparency for all who fund such advocacy as one way to mitigate the adverse consequences of the decision.

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Judiciary and merit selection

Few Supreme Court cases get as much play as Caperton v. Massey and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The pundits, of course, all have an opinion. Then President Barack Obama referred to the decision in his first State of the Union address, arguing that Citizens “reversed a century of law” and “will open the floodgates for special interests.” This caused Justice Samuel Alito, who was in the audience, to roll his eyes, shake his head and mouth the words “Not true.” Predictably enough, his indignant moment was caught on tape and sent the blogosphere into conniptions.

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A jarring scene at the State of the Union speech

President Obama received much criticism for his nationally televised blast at the Supreme Court — "Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections” — as six justices, who voluntarily attended his speech, sat in the front row, a few feet from the president up on his podium. To my eyes, all six seemed startled to varying degrees — or rather five did. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had snoozed through parts of the speech, seemed not yet fully awake.

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