Weekly Roundup – February 17, 2017

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The Supreme Court was not especially busy this week, with its only official event a Conference in Friday. Nonetheless, there are still a few news stories of note. Monday marked the first anniversary of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. USA Today reported that Justice Scalia “made quite an impression on a first-year law student from Colorado named Neil Gorsuch,” noting that Judge Gorsuch was in attendance when Scalia gave the Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Lecture at Harvard Law School in 1989. During that event, Scalia discussed his philosophy on adhering to the Constitution and other laws as they were written, and said “[j]udges are sometimes called upon to be courageous, because they must sometimes stand up to what is generally supreme in a democracy: the popular will.” USA Today notes that if he is confirmed, Judge Gorsuch will be the first Justice to have been influenced by Scalia while still in law school. Nonetheless, his influence has already been widely felt. Justice Elena Kagan has stated Scalia’s teachings “changed the way almost all judges, and so almost all lawyers, think and talk about the law,” and that “we’re all textualists now.”

Corinne Purtill, of Quartz wrote on Wednesday about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s February 6, 2017 speech at Stanford University.  Justice Ginsburg gave some advice that she finds to be useful at both work and in her life. The advice, she explained, “comes from my savvy mother-in-law, advice she gave me on my wedding day. ‘In every good marriage,’ she counseled, ‘it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.’ I have followed that advice assiduously, and not only at home through 56 years of a marital partnership nonpareil. I have employed it as well in every workplace, including the Supreme Court.” She explained that “when a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.” The Justice remarked that she has used this strategy while working on the Supreme Court, and stated that she and her colleagues on the Court make sure they maintain respect and friendship, adding “Collegiality is crucial to the success of our mission.” Video highlights of Justice Ginsburg’s remarks, along with a summary, can be found Stanford News. ISCOTUSnow discussed other coverage of the lecture on Monday.

The official confirmation process of Judge Neil Gorsuch has also begun this week. According to The Washington Times, Judge Gorsuch has delivered his questionnaire to the Senate. The questionnaire is the first step in the confirmation process, and reveals extensive detail of his career in law and justice. Judge Gorsuch reported that he has never had an opinion he wrote overturned by the Supreme Court, although one was vacated. The Washington Times article highlighted some of the cases in which Judge Gorsuch refused to give the executive branch free reign, noting that Democrats on the Judiciary Committee will undoubtedly want “a proactive show of independence.” The Washington Post announced on Thursday that his confirmation hearings will begin on March 20, 2017.

For more information on the nomination of Judge Gorsuch, check out ISCOTUSnow next week for “The Gorsuch Report: the Latest News on the Nomination Process” where we will update in more detail the latest news on his nomination.


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