The U.S. Supreme Court and Ethics

June 22, 2023

The U.S. Supreme Court and Ethics

The U.S. Supreme Court and Ethics

U.S. Supreme Court

The Ethics Watch: Update

Here’s the latest on the ethics front. Justice Samuel Alito took a trip with a billionaire to go fishing in Alaska. No disclosures. Then, he ruled on a case that involved one of the billionaire’s entities, and claims he lacked knowledge about the connection.

Why I’m Writing

I write because, a few months ago, Justice Alito told the Wall Street Journal he thought lawyers should defend the Court, in the face of criticism about the justices’ ethics. I found the comment amusing for its suggestion that nine justices need the legal profession to validate their acts.

Now, with the speaker’s acts, it’s time to speak up. As

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Who Decides Elections

December 6, 2022

Who Decides Elections

who decides elections

Mark Rubin

The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Moore v. Harper, No. 21-1271, on Wednesday, December 7, 2022. To suggest that democracy in America depends on the outcome of this case does not overstate its importance. The notion that the likely outcome might render voters irrelevant in many jurisdictions ought to scare every reader, regardless of political leanings.

Moore v. Harper

The issue, as set forth at SCOTUSblog, is:

Whether a state’s judicial branch may nullify the regulations governing the ‘Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives … prescribed … by the Legislature thereof,’ and replace them with regulations of the state courts’ own devising, based on vague state constitutional provisions purportedly vesting

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Mr. Joe Arpaio, President Donald Trump, and the Pardon Power

August 14, 2017

Joe Arpaio, President Donald Trump, and the Pardon Power

arpaio trump

What a Pair!

Trump says he’s considering pardon for Joe Arpaio by Matt Zapotosky for the Washington Post gives you today’s disgraceful news.* And it’s our jumping off point!

I wrote Pardon! and No Egos at Mark Rubin Writes. Pardon? in June and July, respectively. When I wrote the pieces I really expected President Donald Trump would give his family his first high-profile pardons. No matter, for those pardons will surely follow. For now, the Arpaio pardon raises some interesting issues.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio was sued several years ago.** The suit involved racial profiling. Judge Murray Snow, a U.S. District Judge in Phoenix, held the sheriff and others in civil

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The U.S. Supreme Court; It’s a Wrap!

June 27, 2016

On Monday, June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court issued decisions in Voisine et al. v. United States, No. 14-10154; Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, No. 15-274; and McDonnell v. United States, No. 15-474. With these decisions, the oddest Term in this writer’s memory is a wrap!

On the odd part, on February 12 or 13 Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly at a hunting lodge in Texas. Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced within an hour of the confirmation that Justice Scalia’s death that the Senate would not vote on any nominee put forward by the sitting President of the United States. (Senator McConnell controls the Senate calendar, and is also the man who will

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Die on a Mountain

April 30, 2016

Several years ago I was sitting in an interminable board meeting. (I used to do that. Often!) An agenda item involved significant religious issues. An “aye” vote would have revved up many local Rabbis. I found myself in the thick of the discussion, taking an unexpected position. Then, a very wise man* who I’ve known since I was a young teenager piped up: “My dear, suffering wife,” he said, “will ask me on something like this, David, are you going to die on a mountain over this?” The topic was tabled within about 60 seconds, and never raised again.

I thought about Dying on the Mountain Moments when I saw a post on FB which claimed Hillary Clinton and Bernie

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Thoughts About United States v. Texas

April 18, 2016

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument earlier today in United States v. Texas, No. 15-674. Texas and 25 other states sued the federal government to prevent the implementation of deferred-action regarding certain undocumented immigrants.

Lyle Denniston has an excellent overview of the case and the oral argument in Oral Argument: Search for a Fifth Vote on Immigration at SCOTUSblog. And, of course, Nina Totenberg is always worth reading and listening to; her piece, with a byline shared with Eyder Peralta for NPR, is On Obama’s Immigration Actions, Supreme Court Seems Sharply Divided.

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The judge who heard the case, Andrew Hanen, was tailor-made

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Jefferson Wins … and We’re Effed!

February 12, 2016

Reverent references to the Founding Fathers drive me nutso. Yes, they established a more perfect union, but they rarely agreed about anything. Disagreements are what what we ought to expect from bright, ambitious, contentious men, so when modern day references turn the Founding Fathers into a monolith, it should not go unnoticed.

How bad is it? Almost half-term Governor and full-time nitwit Sarah Palin said her favorite Founding Father is “all of them.” Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski liked Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) best. And these references are just silly. Certain Supreme Court justices believe in originalism, a principle which claims for itself the obligation and ability to determine what the words in the Constitution meant

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Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

January 11, 2016

Labor law is not my best subject, for sure. I’ve handled many employment cases, and still advise clients on employment matters. Labor law, though, connotes union-management issues, and it’s an area in which I don’t practice.

Qualifier noted, I found myself following Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, No. 14-915, the case in which the which the U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to abolish the “agency fee” regimen associated with public sector unions. In part, this was a “how can you ignore it case,” written and talked about everywhere. It’s also a reminder that elections matter. Had some more people moved their asses off their couches and voted in Florida in 2000, and if a few tens of

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The U.S. Supreme Court, 2015-16 Term

October 4, 2015

First Monday in October is upon us. Tomorrow, the U. S. Supreme Court begins its 2015-16 Term. Here at Mark Rubin Writes we will follow the Court once again, relying heavily on and many other resources.

Adam Liptak’s Supreme Court Prepares to Take on Politically Charged Cases for the New York Times, today, provides an excellent overview of the coming Term. I noted in particular his three paragraphs about partisanship, relying on Neal Devins, a law professor at William & Mary. Here they are:

‘This coming term will again put into focus that the court is divided along partisan lines and that the 2016 presidential elections will be hugely consequential in shaping constitutional and other law for perhaps

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Retention Elections at the Supreme Court

September 21, 2015

The United States Supreme Court is comprised of nine justices. Presently, their age span is 82 to 55, with four justices—Ginsburg, Scalia, Kennedy, and Breyer—between 77 and 82. On January 20, 2017, those four justices will be 83, 80, 80, and 78, respectively. They will also have been serving for 23, 30, 28, and 22 years, respectively.

My point? The 2016 election may be about only one thing which really matters: the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many people holler about the Supreme Court. Some people are genuinely concerned about a group of people who come from remarkably similar professional backgrounds. Read Is the Court We Have the Court We Want?, which I wrote in May 2014, for

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