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Supreme Court ethics with John Oliver

John Oliver discusses the Supreme Court, the ethically questionable gifts some of the justices receive, and an offer for Clarence Thomas that he definitely shouldn’t refuse. Once again, Oliver gets to the heart of the issue of SCOTUS ethics or lack thereof.

Lunchtime listen: Kittens Kick The Giggly Blue Robot All Summer maybe God-damn!

Here’s a good mnemonic device, brought to you by RadioLab, for remembering all of our current US Supreme Court Justices — Kagan, Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor, and maybe Garland! But before you listen to the snappy song, listen to this episode from RadioLab (one of my favorite podcasts!) and their new venture called “More Perfect” about the US Supreme Court. You’ll learn a ton about the history of the SCOTUS and get a mnemonic song stuck in your head to boot!

We tend to think of the Supreme Court justices as all-powerful guardians of the constitution, issuing momentous rulings from on high. They seem at once powerful, and unknowable; all lacy collars and black robes.

But they haven’t always been so, you know, supreme. On this episode of More Perfect, we go all the way back to the case that, in a lot of ways, is the beginning of the court we know today.

via Kittens Kick The Giggly Blue Robot All Summer – Radiolab Presents: More Perfect – WNYC.

SCOTUS and Law Reviews have a bad case of link rot. perma.cc looks to be the prescription

“If permanence of legal thought is important to legal scholarship then it must be preserved consciously.”
–Howard A. Denemark, “The Death of Law Reviews has Been Predicted: What Might be Lost When the Last Law Review Shuts Down?” 27 SETON HALL L. REV. 1, 12 (1996).

According to a new study by Jonathan Zittrain and Kendra Albert at the Harvard Law School (Zittrain also has affiliations with Harvard’s Kennedy School, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society) “49 percent of the hyperlinks in Supreme Court decisions no longer work. And more than 70% of the links in such journals as the Harvard Law Review (in that case measured from 1999 to 2012), currently don’t work. As time passes, the number of non-working links increases.” The study builds off of other great link rot studies such those done annually since 2010 by the Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group and the more resent one by Raizel Liebler and June Liebert in the Yale Journal of Law and Technology.

We’ve been tracking the issue of link rot for government information and the .gov domain for quite some time. There seems at this time to be a critical mass to actually DO something about it. The Harvard Library Innovation Lab, along with 30 law libraries from around the country, the Internet Archive and Instapaper, have come together to create the Perma.cc service, currently in beta, that allows users to create citation links that will never break.

I LOVE this idea. I’ve long been a fan/user of the Zotero Commons which allows users to save snapshots of their zotero citations in the Internet Archive (though I can’t tell if it’s still being actively maintained/developed). I can’t wait to see perm.cc in action!

The Harvard Library Innovation Lab has pioneered a project to unite libraries so that link rot can be mitigated. We are joined by about thirty law libraries around the world to start Perma.cc, which will allow those libraries on direction of authors and journal editors to store permanent caches of otherwise ephemeral links. Libraries are the ideal partners for this task: they think on a long timescale; they take user trust and service seriously; and they are non-commercial. You can see more about the system at perma.cc. The amazing Internet Archive has lent its archiving engine to the effort, and Instapaper has generously provided an alternative path to parse Web pages to be saved. CloudFlare has kindly ensured that the the system at Perma.cc can scale with use.

US Supreme Court 2012-13 docket full of high-profile cases #SCOTUS

Thanks Washington Monthly for the preview of the Supreme Court’s 2012-13 docket, which starts October 1, 2012. “With half the term’s cases scheduled, here are some of the big cases that are already on the docket, and a few the Court court take up later.” Cornell’s Legal Information Institute (LII) also has a good preview of the upcoming term. and the incomparable @scotusblog pointed us to a good WaPo review of the court’s upcoming docket, “Supreme Court faces another high-profile term.” The cases can be searched in the Supreme Court’s docket database as well as on their monthly calendar.

Affirmative Action
October 10, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

Revisiting affirmative action in higher education, a decade after Sandra Day O’Connor’s fifth vote upheld it in Grutter v. Bollinger. The conventional wisdom says that the Court, with Alito sitting in O’Connor’s seat, rules the practice unconstitutional.

Human Rights
October 3, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum

Fascinating case in which Royal Dutch and its Shell subidiaries (the American companies) are accused of helping the Nigerian government torture a dozen and kill Nigerians protesting against the companies’ oil exploration. What’s being decided is whether a US court can effectively rule on human rights violations a domestic company has committed abroad.

Capital Punishment
October 9, Tibbals v. Carter; Ryan v. Gonzalez

Both of these cases deal with a state’s responsibility to halt the appellate review of capital punishment cases while a defendant is mentally ill. For now, this is the only case on the court’s docket that deals with the death penalty.

Civil Liberties/Surveillance
October 29, Clapper v. Amnesty International

The Court reviews the United State’s ability to wiretap Americans when they’re abroad. In 2008, Congress expanded the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which previously regulated only domestic surveillance. Since then, we’ve been able to spy on our own wherever they go.

Doggie sniffing
October 31, Florida v. Jardines; Florida v. Harris

The Court decides whether it violates the Fourth Amendment provision against illegal searches for a trained narcotics dog to sniff around a house or car for drugs without a warrant. Dogs in question are Franky and Aldo, respectively.

Potential SCOTUS cases (Should the Court take them up)

Same-Sex Marriage

Several Defense of Marriage Act cases are working there way through the courts, most notably the May Massachusetts federal court decision that struck down the law. A lower court in California has also struck down Prop 8, the state’s ban on gay marriage, so that case could get heard too.

Voting Rights Act

Several states (Texas, South Carolina, Florida) have recently had voting laws struck down by the Department of Justice, thanks to the provision of the Voting Rights Act that mandates many of the ex-Confederate states have their voting laws “pre-cleared” by the federal government. If the Court decides to take up any of the resulting state challenges to the VRA, it could rule pre-clearance unconstitutional. Sidenote: I’d argue that pre-clearance isn’t broad enough. Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and other northern states that don’t require pre-clearance have passed Voter ID laws no problem. Welcome to the era of Jim Crow North.

BREAKING: 46,000+ pages of SCOTUS nominee Kagan Docs Now Online

In an article entitled “In Supreme Court Work, Early Views of Kagan” Charlie Savage at the NY Times has just released a ton(!) of memos written by SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan during her time as a young law clerk working for Justice Thurgood Marshall at the Supreme Court.

The latest release with more than 46,500 pages re: SCOTUS Nominee, Elena Kagan, are now available on The Clinton Library Web Site.

You Can Access the Individual Files Here (Found in 74 Boxes)

or Download Seven Large PDF Files (about 205 Megs each) and Access All Pages in All Files

click here for boxes 01-10

click here for boxes 11-20

click here for boxes 21-30

click here for boxes 31-40

click here for boxes 41-50

click here for boxes 51-60

click here for boxes 61-74

See Also: Previously Released Documents re: Elena Kagan

1) Documents: More Digitized Files Re: Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan Now Available From The Clinton Library Web Site

2) Documents: Re: Supreme Court Nominee, Elena Kagan Now Online via Clinton Library; Additional Materials Under Review by NARA

See Also: A Selection of Memos Elena Kagan Sent to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in 1987. At that time, Kagan was a Law Clerk for Justice Marshall (via NY Times)

[Thanks for the heads-up Gary Price at ResourceShelf!]