July 12, 2012 |
There are (at least) two reasons to pass a law: to address a practical problem and to send a message. A bill by Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) to criminalize lying about military service “for tangible benefit or personal gain” seems to fall into the second category. The Webb bill is a response to last month's Supreme Court decision striking down the Stolen Valor Act, which made it a crime to lie about having received military honors. The decision overturnd the conviction of Xavier Alvarez, a former member of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District governing board in eastern Los Angeles County who falsely claimed that he held the congressional Medal of Honor. (That was only one of his whoppers.
March 22, 2013 |
New York lawyer Caitlin Halligan, who was first nominated to the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., almost 2 1/2 years ago, has asked President Obama to withdraw her nomination. As The Times noted in an editorial today, Halligan was the victim of a Republican filibuster in which all but one of the GOP senators voting refused to cut off debate on her nomination. Had the nomination proceeded to a floor vote, she almost certainly would have been confirmed. Liberals and Democrats will decry the sandbagging of Halligan, who was accused by Republicans of extremism because she once filed suit against gun manufacturers.
October 30, 2012 |
WASHINGTON - Supreme Court justices were surprisingly skeptical Monday about arguments by a top Justice Department lawyer who in a hearing sought to squelch an anti-wiretapping lawsuit brought by lawyers, journalists and activists. At issue in the surveillance case is the government's power to secretly monitor international phone calls and email under a stepped-up monitoring policy approved by Congress four years ago. It allows U.S. spy agencies to target people or places overseas and to intercept all the phone calls and email to and from these people or places.
June 28, 2012 |
WASHINGTON -- Just before 10 a.m. EDT today, the nine justices of the Supreme Court will be summoned by a buzzer to the robing room behind the court bench. No matter how acrimonious the fight over the healthcare decision they are about to announce, tradition calls for them to shake hands with one another. Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller began that little ceremony in the late 1800s to note that differences of opinion do not preclude the justices' overall harmony of purpose. That sense of harmony may be short-lived if the court is badly split on what may be the most significant ruling on an act of Congress in more than half a century.
March 21, 2012 |
The Supreme Court, noting that virtually all criminal cases are settled through plea deals, has ruled for the first time that defendants have a right to competent advice from a lawyer on whether to accept an offer to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence. At a minimum, the court said, the defendant must be told of any formal offers from a prosecutor that would result in a favorable deal. The pair of 5-4 decisions handed down Wednesday could have a broad impact on the nation's criminal justice system because of the importance of plea deals.
April 5, 2011 |
The Supreme Court restored a death sentence for a Van Nuys murderer Monday, despite evidence that he suffered severe brain damage as a child. Scott Pinholster, who stabbed two men to death in a drug robbery gone bad in Tarzana in 1982, is an epileptic who suffered blows to the head in two auto accidents. His mother backed her car into him when he was 2, and his head slammed into the windshield during an accident a year or two later. By age 10, he was having outbursts at school. At 11, he was sent to a mental institution.
June 27, 2010 |
For Elena Kagan, it was a moment of sheer triumph. Presiding over a gala dinner three years ago among the Italianate arches of the art museum at Harvard University, a beaming Kagan praised the honoree, Bruce Wasserstein, then the chairman of famed Wall Street bank Lazard Ltd. Wasserstein's donations had helped Kagan break ground on a massive, state-of-the-art facility at the law school, where she was the dean. The construction cranes rising above Harvard Law's campus today serve as a testament to Kagan's prowess; she spearheaded a fundraising campaign that raked in almost half a billion dollars for the school.
July 2, 2010 |
Supporters and critics of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan argued their case before the Senate Judiciary Committee late Thursday, but one of her most formidable opponents weighed in earlier in the day. The National Rifle Assn., Washington's powerful gun lobby, came out against her confirmation, saying Kagan "has repeatedly demonstrated a clear hostility to the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution." As a domestic policy advisor for President Clinton in the 1990s, Kagan was part of an administration that battled the NRA on issues such as assault weapons, the importation of semiautomatic rifles, trigger locks and gun show sales.
May 27, 2010 |
In her first weeks as dean of Harvard Law School in 2003, Elena Kagan put the warring sides of the gun rights debate in a room and let them fight it out. The debate between gun control advocates and 2nd Amendment purists was sponsored by the law school's target shooting club, and Kagan showed her support by moderating the exchange. But her own views on gun rights went unaired. With her Supreme Court confirmation pending, those views have become of extreme interest to pro-gun groups such as the National Rifle Assn.
March 4, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - Outside accountants and lawyers who reveal fraud and wrongdoing at publicly traded companies are protected as whistle-blowers just as employees are, the Supreme Court ruled, expanding the reach of an anti-fraud law passed in the wake of the collapse of companies such as Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc. The 6-3 decision Tuesday will affect the mutual fund and financial services industries in particular because they rely heavily on outside contractors and advisors. Denying whistle-blower protection to all outside employees of such companies would leave a "huge hole" in the 2002 law, said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, noting that most mutual fund companies hire independent investment advisors and contractors rather than employees.