Back when I started up F1@1F, Kiyemba v. Obama stood to be argued this morning as the next installment of the Court’s Guantanamo cases, following 2008′s landmark ruling in Boumediene v. Bush. The case asked whether a federal judge had the power to relocate into the United States the few remaining Uighurs held at Guantanamo after they were determined not to have been enemy combatants.
But then the Swiss agreed in early February to resettle the remaining Uighurs just before the Government’s brief was due to the Court. Despite some arguing that the Court should still hear the case for the legal issues presented, the Court remanded the case for further review, stating that “[n]o court has yet ruled in this case in light of the new facts, and we decline to be the first to do so.” Five of the Uighurs remain in Guantanamo after refusing multiple relocation offers from countries without established Uighur communities.
Without Kiyemba on the docket, this week has held little promise for F1@1F. I thought about going to this morning’s remaining case, New Process Steel v. National Labor Relations Board, just to see what the line would be like for a case asking whether two people equals three people (really!). But my alarm this morning also woke in me some bleary-eyed clarity: the Court could be handing down major opinions from its October sitting this morning and I would be attending a lunch talk by Judge Diane Wood. I could very well be writing about these things through the afternoon and evening, so I chose to get a few more hours of sleep rather than watch the justices themselves pass out during an argument about an NLRB quorum.
Without writing material from the Court, I went off to see Judge Wood speak at an ACS lunch discussion. Whether she was in DC solely for this event, or if she had some more important matters in DC, no one said. In fact, her talk and the accompanying Q&A focused almost exclusively on Seventh Circuit practice.
The only noteworthy quotes came from Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSBlog, who, in introducing Judge Wood, recognized the “undeniable subtext” of why I and nearly all of the Supreme Court press corps was in attendance: “if the stars align and the Left shows some guts, Diane Wood should be on the Supreme Court.”
It was a necessarily glowing, but no less sincere, introduction from the man who predicted last month that President Obama would pass over Wood for the younger, more confirmable Elena Kagan. F1@1F, however, continues to maintain that Wood will be the next justice should Justice Stevens retire at the end of this term.
Even though I left the talk without a story, it was good to have a potential before-she-was-a-justice moment. Still, here’s to a more fruitful next week for F1@1F.
Finally, two bits of miscellaneous debris from yesterday:
- ABC’s Ariane de Vogue wrote yesterday about Goodwin Liu’s nomination to the Ninth Circuit, with a sub-headline of, “Contentious Hearing for Lower Court Nominee to Foreshadow High Court Battles to Come.” The article reports out and builds upon what I observed here in January.
- The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder has a “you heard it here first” post about Ben Mizer, Ohio’s Solicitor General. Ambinder seems to suggest deeply between the lines that Mizer, who argued before the Court yesterday, stands a chance well down the line of becoming a Justice.
UPDATE: Dahlia Lithwick makes me wish I went to this morning’s case after all…
As we have previously noted, the Court will issue opinions tomorrow. The next opinion day is Monday, January 25. After that, the Court is not scheduled to issue opinions until Tuesday, February 23. The month-long gap results from the break between the Court’s January and February sittings.
The Court could add an additional opinion date. That would have been extremely unlikely under Chief Justice Rehnquist. But in a variety of small ways, the Roberts Court has taken a more pragmatic approach that deviates from certain traditions.
Nonetheless, the Court is an institution that does rest on tradition, and it will have a strong institutional preference for sticking to its usual calendar. The Court is also well aware of the public interest in having the campaign finance case decided, as illustrated by the fact that it held oral argument in late summer, outside the usual argument calendar.
Next, should the Court strike down McCain-Feingold‘s restrictions on corporate campaign expenditures, expect liberal commentators to reveal doomsday visions of insurance companies emptying their coffers in the 2010 campaign on a multimedia effort to smear all incumbents supportive of health care reform as fascists, socialists, and communists.
That’s a vicious one-two punch from our Legislative and Judicial branches. But should that combination come to pass, expect the Executive Branch to stay cool, adjust to the circumstances, and move ahead. There will be neither war nor implosion.