Tuesday, April 13, 2010

US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens to Retire : Possible Successors : The LawPundit Casts a Vote for Cass Sunstein

John Paul Stevens: Supreme Court Justice Retires - ABC News
as Ariane de Vogue writes:
"Justice John Paul Stevens to Retire From Supreme Court: A Liberal Voice for 34 Years, Stevens Hailed by Obama As An 'Impartial Guardian of the Law'"
More about Stevens is found at a special site at The National Law Journal titled:

Speaking of Stevens:  A Forum on Justice John Paul Stevens, his Legacy, and the Future of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In view of the fact that Stevens is the only Protestant Justice on a Supreme Court of nine judges -- we wonder what the legal diversity cases would say about that -- the replacement of Stevens on the court will put a political strain on the Obama administration if it nominates anyone other than a Protestant successor. Moreover, given Stevens' position as the head of the Supreme Court's liberal faction, the appointment of a successor is certain to run straight into staunch Republican opposition, since Obama is already under strong internal Democratic Party pressure to appoint a strongly liberal judge to counteract the conservative nature of the Bush-named Justices.

Some possible successors are discussed

by Nina Totenberg at NPR and

by Joan Biskupic at USA Today, who writes in Likely candidates to replace Supreme Court Justice Stevens:
"In 2009, Obama chose Sonia Sotomayor to fill the vacancy created when Justice David Souter retired. Three other candidates he interviewed for that vacancy remain possibilities: U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Chicago-based U.S. Appeals Court Judge Diane Wood.
Among other legal figures likely in the mix, based on their credentials and backgrounds, are Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland, Attorney General Eric Holder and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who worked as an assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Clinton administration."
The current Dean of Harvard Law School, Martha Minow, is also a definite possibility. As written by Samuel Gordon in Obama and the Jews: An inside perspective   (23/11/2008):
"I remember especially the night I attended a dinner in Chicago for the organization, Facing History and Ourselves. The program included Senator Barack Obama speaking with students from two Chicago high schools. One of the young students posed this question:
“Senator Obama, why did you decide to give up the benefits of a career in a corporate law firm on Wall Street and instead choose public service?”

Senator Obama responded: “When I was at Harvard Law School I had a teacher who changed my life---Martha Minow.”
I happened to be sitting at the table with Martha Minow, her parents, my good friends Newton and Jo Minow, and Abner Mikva. All of us sat there in amazement and with great pride in Martha.

Martha Minow, as a law professor at Harvard, had told her father that the brightest, most talented law student she had ever had was a young man named Barack Obama. Martha’s father, Newton Minow, was managing partner at Sidley and Austin, a major Chicago law firm. Newton Minow is best known for his role as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission under President Kennedy, but in Chicago he is a man who connects people with each other. Newt Minow brought Barack Obama to Chicago to work at Sidley and began to introduce him around. Barack Obama soon got to know other major Chicago Jewish figures such as Abner Mikva, Lester Crown and many others. From that time on, Barack Obama was deeply connected to the Chicago Jewish world. I also knew some of those whom he chose for advisors: Dennis Ross, Anthony Lake, Daniel Kertzer, Robert Wexler, and Mel Levine helped shape his ideas about Israel and the Middle East."
Our own favorite nominee would most likely be Cass Sunstein, who appears better prepared conceptually for the judicial issues facing today's judges than many of the more politically-oriented candidates whose names are being bandied about. Courts everywhere seem already to be filled with too many judges having too limited a knowledge about the human demands of the modern world. As written at the Wikipedia about Sunstein:
"Sunstein's 2004 book, The Second Bill of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More than Ever, advocates the Second Bill of Rights proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Among these rights are a right to an education, a right to a home, a right to health care, and a right to protection against monopolies; Sunstein argues that the Second Bill of Rights has had a large international impact and should be revived in the United States. His 2001 book, Republic.com, argued that the Internet may weaken democracy because it allows citizens to isolate themselves within groups that share their own views and experiences, and thus cut themselves off from any information that might challenge their beliefs, a phenomenon known as cyber balkanization....

Sunstein is a proponent of
judicial minimalism, arguing that judges should focus primarily on deciding the case at hand, and avoid making sweeping changes to the law or decisions that have broad-reaching effects. Some view him as liberal publicly supporting some of George W. Bush's judicial nominees, including Michael W. McConnell and John G. Roberts, as well as supporting rights under the Second Amendment and providing strong theoretical support for the death penalty. Much of his work also brings behavioral economics to bear on law, suggesting that the "rational actor" model will sometimes produce an inadequate understanding of how people will respond to legal intervention." [emphasis added]
Accordingly, Sunstein might be a nominee who -- depending on the issue involved -- would be considered both favorable and un-favorable by both extremes of the political spectrum, left and right -- which looks like a good combination to this observer. We would prefer having Supreme Court Justices who are neither beholden to a political party book nor to outdated concepts of the legal system. A man like Sunstein on the Supreme Court would inject a bit of modern reality into the upper echelons of the judicial branch of government. America can not move forward if the outdated forces of yesteryear are holding the country back, politically or judicially.

National Health Care Reform and the Law: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act

A detailed view of the new health care law in the United States can be found at

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

and the

Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act

A short summary of the major provisions of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as passed by Congress and signed by President Obama is found at Martindale.com in
President Signs Sweeping New Health Care Reform Law

Recent developments in European Consumer Law

We note here a relatively new law blog (blawg) on
Recent Developments in European Consumer Law

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