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items tagged with Supreme Court

Can’t Fix What We Don’t Know: The Supreme Court’s Echo Chamber
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Editorials

2015-10-28 14:24:08

Reuters released a special report late last year that went largely under the corporate media’s radar. Titled “The Echo Chamber,” it exposed that at the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), “a handful of lawyers now dominates the docket.”

“The Echo Chamber” examined 10,300 petitions before the Supreme Court from 2004 through 2012, triangulating the number of appeals filed, the names of attorneys and their firms, and the percentage of appeals accepted and heard by SCOTUS.

Some high points:

1) Sixty-six of 17,000 lawyers’ appeals were at least six times more likely to be heard than all other lawyers’ submissions combined in that same period.

2) These 66 lawyers account for less than 1 percent of lawyers who filed appeals with SCOTUS yet were involved in 43 percent of the cases chosen to be heard.

3) Fifty-one of these 66 lawyers represent corporate interests, turning SCOTUS “into an echo chamber – a place where an elite group of jurists embraces an elite group of lawyers who reinforce narrow views of how the law should be construed.”

4) Twelve top firms had an 18-percent success rate in getting their petitions heard and were involved in a third of the cases before SCOTUS. Of the business-related cases accepted by SCOTUS, these top firms were involved in 60 percent.

5) Out of 8,000 firms doing business at the Supreme Court, 31 firms accounted for 44 percent of all cases heard by SCOTUS.

6) A group of eight lawyers accounted for 20 percent of all arguments made before SCOTUS in the past decade versus 30 attorneys in the decade before, demonstrating the diminishing circle of influence at the high court.

7) Demographically, of the 66 top lawyers, 63 are Caucasian and only eight are female. Thirty-one worked as clerks for SCOTUS; 25 worked in high-level positions for the U.S. Office of the Solicitor General, whose attorneys represent the government before SCOTUS; and 14 worked for both, making them “consummate insiders.”

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Keep Your Hands Off My Raisins: Court Invalidates Antiquated Raisin Grab
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Guest Commentaries

2015-07-17 14:03:57

Laura and Marvin Horne are raisin farmers. Early one morning in 2002, a truck appeared at their business, and the drivers demanded a whopping 47 percent of their raisin crop. The truck was sent by the federal government, and those demanding the Hornes’ raisin crop claimed to be operating under a “marketing order” first put in place in 1937 as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s effort to shore up agricultural prices. Amazingly, this antiquated scheme lasted for more than 65 years – well past the agricultural crisis of the Great Depression.

By 2002, the Hornes had endured enough of these raisin grabs. They refused to turn over nearly half of their crop. The federal government assessed a fine of $480,000 for the missing raisins and another $200,000 in civil penalties against the Hornes. The Hornes fought the government through the courts and finally landed in the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Ted Rall: Trampled by Kittens
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Lifestyle

Category: Ted Rall

2015-07-06 11:31:51

How Jury Trials Could Have Softened the Blow of the Financial Crisis
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Guest Commentaries

2015-05-13 14:10:33

For most of our history, lawyers have thought of themselves as the unofficial fourth “arm” of the government. This view is more understandable from lawyers’ past role as “trial advocates” than from the present relationship between the bench and bar, which reduces the significance lawyers have in the administration of justice.

Under the law in effect in most colonies at the time our Constitution was written, lawyers were advocates who had the right to argue the merits of their clients’ cases directly to a jury. Juries, not judges, had the right to decide most cases as they saw fit both with regard to the facts and the law. As the Supreme Court noted in 1943’s Galloway V. United States: “In 1789, juries occupied the principal place in the administration of justice. They were frequently in both criminal and civil cases the arbiters not only of fact but of law.”

The king’s denial of the right to a trial by jury was one of the reasons justifying separation from England in the Declaration of Independence.

Many believed the right to a jury trial was not adequately guaranteed in Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution. Anti-federalists urged rejection of the Constitution unless it was amended to include a Bill of Rights, which secured the right to trial by jury in both criminal and civil cases. Patrick Henry, a lawyer and well-known patriot at that time, argued: “Trial by jury is the best appendage of freedom. ... No appeal can now be made as to fact in common-law suits. The unanimous verdict of impartial men cannot be reversed.” This result was not because the jury would always be right, but because the result came from impartial members of the community.

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Ted Rall: I Like Where This Is Going
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Lifestyle

Category: Ted Rall

2014-06-29 16:08:29

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