Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The SOTU Bear Hug

That was Justice Ginsburg and President Obama:

How nice.

Meantime, Obama let the Justices know (in a nicer way this time) that he wasn't pleased with the Voting Rights decision.  From the WSJ:

Chastened after his 2010 State of the Union address, when his explicit criticism of a Supreme Court decision sparked a rebuke from several justices, President Barack Obama took a more subtle approach Tuesday regarding a ruling he considers misguided. The reference in Tuesday’s address to Congress was so subtle, in fact, that television camera operators apparently didn’t realize what he was referring to, and failed to cut to attending justices for a reaction shot.
“Last year, part of the Voting Rights Act was weakened,” Mr. Obama said, invoking the passive voice to avoid mention of the entity that did the weakening: the Supreme Court. The high court voted 5-4 along conservative-liberal lines to free states with a history of discrimination from their obligation to obtain federal approval before changing election procedures.
Five justices were in the audience. Two, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, found that the formula for identifying states requiring federal oversight no longer was constitutional. Three dissented from the ruling, Shelby County v. Holder—Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. Their facial expressions couldn’t be seen.
“But conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats are working to strengthen it,” Mr. Obama continued, referring to a bill co-sponsored by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R., Wis.), Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D., Mich.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.). The bill would create a new formula for determining which jurisdictions had violated voting rights so egregiously in recent years to justify federal oversight.
Mr. Obama added a comment perhaps inspired by a case now pending before the justices, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which would lift limits on aggregate campaign contributions a single individual can make, which current law caps at about $125,000 over a two-year cycle.
“It should be the power of our vote, not the size of our bank account, that drives our democracy,” the president said, but again the justices’ reaction was not displayed to television viewers.
Four justices skipped Tuesday’s event. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have avoided it for years. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was in California. And Justice Samuel Alito—who visibly mouthed “not so” when President Obama in 2010 criticized the decision called Citizens United, which lifted limits on corporate and political spending—hasn’t been seen in the House chamber since.

Bryan Garner, is an expert on how lawyers write and talk, and he's also the editor of Black's Law Dictionary.  He's added these new terms to the book, which he picked up from ATL founder David Lat.  From Garner's twitter account:

Three neologisms by that I've defined for Black's Law Dictionary (10/e): "bench-slap," "judicial diva," and "litigatrix."

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