The General Republic

Posted in Vox Populi by Mike Sacks on April 30, 2010

Waiting Out the Sprinklers, 1:18am

My Vox Populi column from the Doe v. Reed line is now up at the ABA Journal:

Those of us dozing in the Doe v. Reed line at half past five on Tuesday morning received a rude awakening from a homeless man ranting at us about the interrelation of President Nixon, G. Gordon Liddy, axe murderers, and Internet privacy.

“Just don’t call him Jay Jay–he hates that!” concluded the man, referring to Liddy, as I fumbled for my glasses.  By the time I could see anything, however, he was gone.

The trouble with pulling overnights on First Street is that the natural sleep hours invariably fall between three and six in the morning–the primetime arrival hours for most other would-be SCOTUS spectators on blockbuster case days.  So while bits of the man’s rant seeped into my half-conscious dreamscape, many others stood fresh-faced and wide-awake with this scene as their introduction to life on the Supreme Court Side Walk.

But those of us who had been sitting outside since sundown saw another side of the story.

Read the rest here.

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Justice Stevens’s Valedictory Question

Posted in Case Reports by Mike Sacks on April 28, 2010

My write-up from this morning’s oral argument in Doe v. Reed is now up at the ABA Journal:

Today marked Justice John Paul Stevens’s final oral argument of his nearly thirty-five year career as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  Although Stevens has two more months of opinion announcements to get in a few more words as an active justice, his sole question during this morning’s argument in Doe v. Reed might as well have been his valedictory address to the Court and the country.

For nearly thirty minutes, Justice Stevens listened to the petitioners’ lawyer, Jim Bopp, argue that men and women who signed a petition to place an anti-gay rights referendum on the state ballot had a First Amendment right to privacy in their political associations that protected them against harassment from those with opposing political views.  Accordingly, Bopp maintained, Washington State had no compelling justification to release, pursuant to the state’s Public Records Act, the signers’ name and information.

Then, as the white warning light turned on upon Bopp’s lectern to signal that his half-hour was almost up, Justice Stevens leaned forward and spoke into his microphone.

Read the rest here.

“The Story” w/ Dick Gordon Interview

Posted in Non-justiciable by Mike Sacks on April 28, 2010

I just got back from Doe v. Reed.  A really great bout to end this term’s oral arguments.  I’ll have my ABA Journal piece up later today.

In the meantime, check out my interview on American Public Media’s “The Story” with Dick Gordon.  The segment begins at 31:00.  If you’d rather go terrestrial, click here to find airtimes for “The Story” on your local NPR affiliate.

Finally, Justice Kennedy made me eat my words with his opinion in in Salazar v. Buono. No time to do an opinion analysis on it right now, other than to note how fractured the majority coalition was:

KENNEDY, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., joined, and in which ALITO, J., joined in part. ROBERTS, C. J., filed a concurring opinion. ALITO, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. SCALIA, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which THOMAS, J., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which GINSBURG and SOTOMAYOR, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

For more on Buono, check out Josh Blackman’s instant analysis.


Posted in Anticipation by Mike Sacks on April 28, 2010

I'll Take It.

Final wait of the season completed.  Home to thaw.  A few thoughts on the Doe v. Reed line:

  • I woke up this morning to a man ranting about G. Gordon Liddy to all in line.  Fitting to bring back Watergate as Justice Stevens, the President Ford’s post-Watergate pick, hears his final oral argument.
  • Speaking of Stevens’s final oral argument, one admirer in line showed up wearing a commemorative bowtie.
  • The line was shockingly short given the high profile of Doe, its gay marriage undertones, and (again) Justice Stevens’s final oral argument.
  • People from Poland, California, Bangladesh, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin out there last night/this morning.  Got some good video interviews for Supreme Court Side Walk.
  • Sunday night was warm and rainy.  Last night was cold and dry.  And now that the Court is done with oral arguments later this morning, what’s it like for the rest of this week?  Dry and warm.  April, you disappoint me.

Time for my final trek up First Street for an oral argument this term.  It’s been fun.  Thanks to all who brave the elements with me, even those who beat me to the front of the line.  From the Court to East Capitol and around the corner, you all rock.

Come back later today for the argument recap and tomorrow for my Vox Populi column.

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SCSW III: Doe v. Reed

Posted in Supreme Court Side Walk by Mike Sacks on April 28, 2010

Interview with my usurpers:

More footage from tonight and tomorrow morning later this week.


Posted in Uncategorized by Mike Sacks on April 27, 2010

Into the Weeds

Posted in Case Reports by Mike Sacks on April 27, 2010

My oral argument write-up for Monsanto is now up at the ABA Journal:

The Supreme Court today was slated to consider in Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms how nigh the organic alfalfa apocalypse must be to justify a federal district court’s nationwide injunction against the use of an agricultural giant’s genetically modified alfalfa seed.

But the Court this morning proved as resistant to the parties’ arguments as Monsanto’s alfalfa is to Roundup weed-killer.  Instead of assessing, as expected, what degree of likelihood of environmental harm must be considered in order for a court to issue an injunction under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), the justices spent the hour snarling at this case as if it were an unwanted weed growing in the Marble Temple.

Read the rest here.

I’m off to the Court now to be not first for tomorrow morning’s argument in Doe v. Reedthe final argument of the Court’s term and Justice Stevens’s career.  Keep your eye on my twitter feed, where I’ll be updating on the line’s progress through the night.

I Curse You, Monsanto

Posted in Non-justiciable by Mike Sacks on April 27, 2010

Dear Monsanto v. Geertson Farms,

I knew you were bad news.

First you require me to do a campout despite your mid-major status.  Then, for all that waiting, you compel me to write up your oral argument despite its otherwise opaque, technical nature.  Now, as I am writing, you destroy my chances at going out on top this term:

"We're Waiting For You" - 2:56pm

The fact that I’m told “the guy in the picture likes what you’re doing so much he will relinquish the #1 ticket to you,” doesn’t soothe the pain you’ve caused me.  #1 deserves to be #1, even if I’d be out there already if it weren’t for you.

I curse you, Monsanto.  I curse you.


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Posted in Anticipation by Mike Sacks on April 27, 2010

Glaring the Rainclouds Away

Back home for a quick dose of warm.  A few thoughts on the Monsanto Company v. Geertson Seed Farms line:

  • Monsanto is this term’s lone environmental law case.  Last term, environmentalists went 0-5 at the Court.  This one’s looking like a loss for them as well.  The only question, really, is how badly they will lose.  The environmentally-friendly Justice Stevens, in his penultimate oral argument of his career, will likely be at least one vote in dissent.
  • Monsanto‘s a mid-major case with a blockbuster line start time.  If it weren’t for a handful of my GULC peers, I wouldn’t have had to get to the Court at 9:30 last night and suffer through an hourlong rainstorm to reclaim my throne after last week’s FAIL@1F.  But then again, I haven’t yet been subject to any elements other than the cold since starting this project, so rain on a warm-ish April night is better than on a frigid January morning.
  • The first non-GULCers showed up around 4:30am.  Must’ve been nice…
  • Nearly all law students in line, so no Vox Populi column for this case.
  • BUT keep an eye out towards the end of the week at for a video Vox Pop by journalist Beth Marlowe.

Shower, shave, suit, Court.

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Be gone evil cloud!

Posted in Uncategorized by Mike Sacks on April 27, 2010

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