U.S. Supreme Court - The FindLaw U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Summaries Blog

July 2018 Archives

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or, as she is affectionately known by her throngs of fans, the Notorious RBG, recently made headlines after making a public appearance on stage Off-Broadway for an encore performance that delighted the audience.

Unfortunately, the Justice's love of opera hasn't driven her to perform. Rather, she agreed to talk to the director of the Off-Broadway show "The Originalist," which is about Justice Antonin Scalia. Though her name only comes up once in the play, it is no secret that she and the late Justice were great friends. In addition to RBG giving the audience some context, she didn't miss the chance to tell the crowd that she considers herself a "flaming feminist." She also quelled some of the anxiety surrounding her retirement, while at the same time showing off her potential second act as a comedian.

Is Kavanaugh a Swing and a Miss?

Vetting a U.S. Supreme Court nominee should include checking baseball stats.

For example, it would be bad precedent to nominate a judge who cheated while playing or gambling on baseball. But what about a baseball fanatic, the kind that goes into debt to buy season tickets?

Brett Kavanaugh isn't that bad, sort of -- especially since a season ticket to the Washington Nationals is only $500. But do you really want a Supreme Court judge to take off work early to catch a game?

A recent Business Insider report examines the timeline for when each current Supreme Court justice is anticipated to retire.

The analysis looks at the current age, number of years on the High Court bench for each justice, and compares it to the average age of justices at retirement (80) and the average number of years justices serve (27 years). And though Justice Kennedy's retirement has just barely been put in the ground, interest over whether Trump will get a third SCOTUS seat is running high.

Below, you can read about the Business Insider breakdown, and the three justices they think are most likely to retire next.

Did you know that there is literally a court above the Supreme Court?

Thanks to a recent feature in Sports Illustrated, the not-so-secret but rarely-talked-about court finally got some time in the limelight. Curiously, it's not a court of law, but rather a less-than-regulation-sized basketball court located above the actual High Court Courtroom. And what might surprise you even more is that there is a rich history of justices playing b-ball with staff and clerks.

Throughout the history of the United States Supreme Court, of the 113 SCOTUS justices that have served, according to CNN's number-crunching, there have only been six justices that were not white men.

Of those six justices, four are still on the Court today. The two who are no longer on the Court are Thurgood Marshall and Sandra Day O'Connor. Sadly, the last few nominees have not helped the Court achieve more diversity, which would undoubtedly be helpful to the constant goal of inspiring the public's confidence and trust in the judicial system.

While the debate over whether Judge Kavanaugh should or shouldn't be confirmed may be raging on along partisan lines, taking a look at one of his more curious dissents might provide a little bit of a different perspective on the High Court hopeful.

Though much of the coverage tends to focus on his partisan views reflected in various cases, the Fogo de Chao v. Dept. of Homeland Security case will probably forever haunt him as much as the fact that he put ketchup on pasta. Putting it convolutedly, Kavanaugh is as much a chef as he is a duck, but he still makes decisions involving chefs based on his assumption that training American chefs to be Brazilian chefs and educators must be easy.

Most recently in the Bill Cosby legal drama, it was reported that Cosby finally filed the petition for certiorari seeking to overturn the California Supreme Court, and rather follow the federal First and Third Circuit courts of appeal.

On the criminal front, Cosby will be sentenced this September, and it has been reported that he will be considered a Tier III sexual predator and listed as a sex offender for the rest of his life. However, that's not what the High Court's being asked to consider. Rather Cosby is asking SCOTUS whether: "an attorney's statement denying wrongdoing on behalf of a client who has been publicly accused of serious misconduct enjoys constitutional protection"?

If you somehow happened to miss the blockbuster documentary about the Supreme Court's most celebrated justice, RBG, you're in luck, maybe. The new biopic about Justice Ginsburg chronicling her pre-SCOTUS justice life as an advocate for women's rights, is set to release this year on Christmas Day.

This week, the trailer for "On the Basis of Sex" was released. As some outlets are reporting, the biopic fictionalizes and sensationalizes Justice Ginsburg akin to prior companion biopics, and features "ragingly hot Hollywood stars." It's expected that the biopic will dwarf the documentary's box office receipts, and is expected to be an Oscar contender.

Since the retirement of Justice Kennedy was announced, the nation's been patiently waiting to find out who President Trump would nominate. Yesterday, in the evening, President Trump announced that Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals was his pick.

Interestingly, as speculated by the ABA back in November, Trump added Judge Kavanaugh to the short-list of nominees as a sort of enticement to Justice Kennedy. Kavanaugh was a former clerk to Justice Kennedy, and the White House did release a statement claiming Kavanaugh would be a frontrunner for the nomination (which was believed, at the time, to be designed to help ease Justice Kennedy's potential apprehensions about retirement).

As President Trump's newest SCOTUS nomination is expected to be announced today, it seems like a good time to look back at some of the most contentious, and worst, Supreme Court justice nominations and hearings throughout history.

As IU Law professor and legal scholar Charles Gardner Geyh, discussing how nominations have been terminally delayed several times before President Trump ever even considered a run at the Presidency, explained:

"There is this tendency to view history through rose-colored glasses from time to time, and to suggest we've never been this political. In reality, we have always had a highly politicized selection process."

Here are five of the toughest nomination fights that might make you wish you could un-ring the bell (again, for some of you readers out there) in some cases, that is.

Is Trump's Supreme Court Nominee a Shoo-In, No Matter Who It Is?

Yes, it appears President Trump's pick for the U.S. Supreme Court is a shoo-in, whoever it is.

To be historically clear, a "shoo-in" does not mean what it used to mean. In the 1930s, it denoted the winner of a rigged horse race.

In 2018, it means that the Republicans already have the votes to confirm the nominee. The Democrats don't stand a chance in this horse race.

Some Supreme Court correspondents have suggested that Justice Kagan has been ruling with her conservative colleagues a little bit more frequently, signaling that she is moving more to the right on the political spectrum, or seeking to play the "long-game" to garner support.

If you see these opinions, you might want to think about just skipping over them. Justice Kagan's dissenting opinion in this term's Janus case makes abundantly clear that she's not likely to be part of the conservative majority unless they're deciding the case like she is. In her strongly worded dissent, Justice Kagan calls out the majority, basically calling them the "black-robed rulers overriding citizens' choices."

The 2017-2018 SCOTUS term has come to an end, and adding to the whirlwind of the last week of the term, Justice Kennedy announced his retirement as well.

Though the big retirement news has dominated the headlines, looking back over the High Court's term, there were some rather significant decisions that will likely have major impacts moving forward. Pundits from multiple news services have chimed in, and SCOTUSblog will be hosting a symposium next week.

In what seems to be one of those times where the High Court majority would have been better off not saying anything at all, Justice Roberts writing for the majority in Trump v. Hawaii, stated: "Korematsu has nothing to do with this case."

Naturally, given the controversial subject matter of the travel ban case, that statement was not likely to go un-responded to in the media and by legal scholars. And though the mention of Korematsu was borne out of the dissent's criticism of the majority's opinion, as many pundits (and the dissent) point out, Justice Roberts' statements on Korematsu belied conventional logic.

Kennedy: How Far Did He Swing?

Justice Anthony Kennedy did not like to be called "the swing vote."

"The cases swing," he said at a Harvard Law School event. "I don't."

As much as he tried to laugh it off, however, Kennedy's reputation stuck with him through his last Supreme Court case. Some observers say his position changed over the years, but that's how he got there. Here are some of the cases that Kennedy swung most dramatically.