The First Lady of First One @ One First and I just returned home after a day at the National Museum of American History to find the Internet bearing two holiday gifts for F1@1F:
- For the third time this year, F1@1F will be in the pages of the New York Times. Adam Liptak’s Sidebar column for tomorrow’s paper, in which he writes about Sotomayor’s spreading her liberal wings this term, concludes with references to this “amusing and astute post.” Thank you for all of your support this year, Adam!
- In addition, my ABA Journal column from the final day of the 2009-10 term is among the “Recommended Reading” in this year’s edition of the Green Bag Almanac and Reader (see page 9). I’m quite humbled and honored to be listed among some giants in Supreme Court reporting, and only hope my luck continues into 2011.
Thanks to all of my readers for making 2010 an extraordinary year. Keep your eye on the site later this week for a post commemorating F1@1F’s one year anniversary.
Adam Liptak of the New York Times has just written a long piece on the Roberts Court’s ideological leanings according to leading political scientists. It’s well worth a read, especially for those trained in the law who are used to assessing the Court qualitatively – Liptak engages with the quantitative research that codes and crunches opinions that most of us just read.
Even more fun, the Times has included an interactive feature for us to test how we measure up to the Roberts Court on hot button cases.
If you really enjoy Liptak’s subject matter, I suggest you also give a look to some of the political science books under my “Foundational Texts” in the sidebar to the right. In addition, give a click to the Supreme Court Database, which you can also find linked in my “Resources” sidebar section.
Adam Liptak has a great recap of the just-completed 2009 term:
Chief Justice Roberts took control of his court this year, pushing hard on issues of core concern to him, including campaign finance, gun rights and criminal procedure, even as he found common ground with his colleagues on an array of other issues.
He was in the majority 92 percent of the time, more than any other justice. Last year that distinction went to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is often regarded as the court’s swing vote.
“More than in any other year since he became chief justice, this has truly become the Roberts court,” said Gregory G. Garre, who served as solicitor general in the administration of George W. Bush and is now at Latham & Watkins.
This analysis is absolutely on point. The intellectual underpinning of F1@1F has been my hypothesis, now apparently proven if the NYT analysis is a reliable source, that this term’s docket largely reflected the Chief Justice’s awareness of the Court’s available political capital to achieve conservative gains beside liberal elected branches. The Court primed itself to move the law where they could and to leave for a later day those that would do more damage to the Court’s institutional legitimacy than their worth to the conservative legal movement.
For newer F1@1F readers, please give this post a read.
Most striking since I wrote the piece has been the Chief Justice’s ability to call upon the sort of “restrained activism,” introduced in NAMUDNO at the end of last term when he limited the scope of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 rather than strike it down as many expected. This term, he has employed and endorsed such legislation from the bench so to get the kinds of politically acceptable results to make some of the Court’s pro-business decisions go down a bit easier. Last week, he joined Justice Ginsburg’s Skilling decision to specifically limit and define federal honest services laws rather than strike them down–as urged by Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas–so not to let Jeff Skilling walk free. Yesterday, in Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB, the Chief Justice rewrote the Sarbanes-Oxley Act–created in the wake of Skilling’s Enron collapse–to force the Public Company Oversight Accounting Board into his vision of constitutionality rather than strike it down outright.
What we’ve had, as I suggested in the winter, is a Chief Justice that knew–and cared–that the Court had only one huge expenditure available to it, and spent it in Citizens United. The rest of the docket was formed and decided accordingly, with the conservatives taking smaller, more under-the-radar steps while the liberals won what they could.
Whereas Justice Kennedy may be the limiting factor on the hot buttons of abortion and affirmative action, issues as the NYT piece noted were nowhere to be found this term, he’s firmly in the maximalist pro-business camp. And for a Court operating in an economic downturn with Democrats in the political branches all too willing to cast it as the tool of an intemperate Tea Party, the Chief–often joined by Justice Alito–must serve as the prudent captain of his man of war‘s voyage towards economic liberty without crossing the Roosevelt Rubicon.
F1@1F has made the New York Times for the second time in two months, this time in a piece entitled, “Step Away from the Courthouse Doors“:
“For those who line up at the Court for each of its public sessions, this process marks — quite literally — a rite of passage from sidewalk to sacred space,” Mr. Sacks wrote. “To deny these men and women this dramatic piece of their pilgrimage is quite mistaken.”
For those of you new to the site, please do stick around and explore. You’ll find the above quote in the immediately prior post. But don’t stop there: I suggest starting from the beginning! And to keep up with future posts from F1@1F, you may subscribe via RSS or email and follow my twitter feed, all available on the right of this page.
Adam Liptak of the NYT has scooped my McDonald vox populi column and I can’t thank him more for doing so.
WASHINGTON — Mike Sacks likes to be the first person in line for big Supreme Court arguments, and he was feeling pretty confident when he arrived at the court Monday morning around 8, 26 hours before the court would hear a big gun-control case.
To all the readers directed to F1@1F from Mr. Liptak’s story, please enjoy your stay and be sure to subscribe!