The typical Supreme Court litigator does not have a Ferrari, and even if he did, he would not send it to Las Vegas for a drag race against a poker buddy. That’s because most Supreme Court lawyers studiously avoid making a spectacle of themselves. At first glance, you might mistake [Tom] Goldstein for one of his colleagues: he wears the same dark suits they do, and he is deceptively bland-looking—physically slight, with slender fingers and thinning hair. In one crucial sense, he is one of them: he is personally involved in about 10 percent of the cases on the Court’s docket in any given year.
Read more. [Image: John Cuneo]
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg survived cancer twice, so we already knew she was tough, but now it turns out she broke two ribs early in June and didn’t even think the injury was serious enough to take time off work.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
The Supreme Court will soon hear a case that will affect whether you can sell your iPad — or almost anything else — without needing to get permission from a dozen “copyright holders.” Here are some things you might have recently done that will be rendered illegal if the Supreme Court upholds the lower court decision:
1. Sold your first-generation iPad on Craigslist to a willing buyer, even if you bought the iPad lawfully at the Apple Store.
2. Sold your dad’s used Omega watch on eBay to buy him a fancier (used or new) Rolex at a local jewelry store.
3. Sold an “import CD” of your favorite band that was only released abroad but legally purchased there. Ditto for a copy of a French or Spanish novel not released in the U.S.
4. Sold your house to a willing buyer, so long as you sell your house along with the fixtures manufactured in China, a chandelier made in Thailand or Paris, support beams produced in Canada that carry the imprint of a copyrighted logo, or a bricks or a marble countertop made in Italy with any copyrighted features or insignia.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
At 11 p.m Monday, the Columbia University Human Rights Review published and posted its Spring 2012 issue — devoted entirely to a single piece of work about the life and death of two troubled and troublesome South Texas men. In explaining to their readers why an entire issue would be devoted to just one story, the editors of the Review said straightly that the “gravity of the subject matter of the Article and the possible far-reaching policy ramifications of its publication necessitated this decision.” […]
The Review article is an astonishing blend of narrative journalism, legal research, and gumshoe detective work. And it ought to end all reasonable debate in this country about whether an innocent man or woman has yet been executed in America since the modern capital punishment regime was recognized by the Supreme Court in 1976. The article is also a clear and powerful retort to Justice Scalia in Kansas v. Marsh: Our capital cases don’t have nearly the procedural safeguards he wants to pretend they do.
Read more. [Image: Corpus Christi Police Department]
Only a few days after conferring on health care, the judges issued their opinion on Florence, 5-4 allowing detention officers to strip-search for minor violations such as traffic stops and failing to leash a dog. Justice Kennedy authored the majority opinion (Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito — broadly considered to be the conservative wing — joined in the decision). A broccoli mandate? Not in my America. Jay walking? Drop those trousers.
The proximity of the two cases only underscores the apparent contradiction in logic. In a telephone conversation, University of Chicago Political Science Chair and Law Professor Bernard Harcourt addressed the inconsistency head on. “I think it is totally coherent in its paradoxical way — but goes to the difference between economic and political liberty.”
Harcourt, who is the author of The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order, calls it the “Great American Paradox” — a constitutional duality dating back to the 18th century, in which “they actually believed that you didn’t need a legislative branch, you only needed an executive branch. Because in economics, any man-made law would actually get in the way of natural order … because there was natural law — the markets — that already governed people.” In turn, lawmakers hypothesized, “There was only one thing we need legislation for. And that was criminal law. And you see it today.”
Read more. [Image: Shutterstock]