NBCChicago's Mary Ann Ahern reports that the Illinois Supreme Court will hear Rahm Emanuel's appeal to knock him off the ballot in Chicago's Feb. 22 mayoral election.
NBCChicago's Mary Ann Ahern reports that the Illinois Supreme Court will hear Rahm Emanuel's appeal to knock him off the ballot in Chicago's Feb. 22 mayoral election.
Rahm Emanuel's attorneys have filed their appeal with the Illinois State Supreme Court.
Technically, it is a request for permission to file an appeal. It takes four of the seven justices to agree to hear the case. One of the justices is Anne Burke, the wife of powerful Chicago Alderman Ed Burke, who has endorsed Emanuel opponent Gery Chico. Ed Burke is also the chairman of the panel that decides which Democratic judicial candidates get the blessing of the Cook County Democratic Party -- so a lot of judges owe their election to his support.
Both the traditionally Republican Chicago Tribune editorial page and the editorial page of the Chicago Sun-Times blasted the appeals court ruling that knocked Emanuel off the ballot. The Trib editorial's headline: "Judicial Arrogance." The Sun-Times': "Rahm ruling a disservice to voters."
*** UPDATE *** NBC's Pete Williams breaks down the appeal:
Yesterday's court decision "is one of the most far-reaching election law rulings ever to be issued by an Illinois court, not only because of its implications for the current Chicago mayoral election but also for the unprecedented restriction that it imposes" on the ability of people to run for office, Emanuel's lawyers say in briefs filed today.
The lower court found that while Emanuel was qualified to vote in the election, he wasn't qualified to run, because he did not physically live in Chicago for at least a year before Election Day. Such a finding has never been endorsed by any state appeals court in Illinois, his lawyers argue.
In fact, Emanuel's lawyers say, previous court rulings hold that the residency requirements for candidates are based on the rules voting eligibility. The lower court simply made up a stricter standard for candidates, they argue.
They also claim that the lower court's new standard -- that a candidate must physically live in a city for a year in order to run for local office -- would create all kinds of doubt. What about people whose companies assign them to work for a month on a special project out of town? How about members of Congress who are typically gone for several days a week? Would they be barred from running for a municipal office, on the grounds that they did not physically live in the city for an entire year before an election?
Monday night, Emanuel's lawyers asked the state supreme court to block the lower court's order and direct election officials to keep his name on the ballot. The court has not yet acted on that request.
Six Supreme Court Justices plan to attend tonight's State of the Union address, the same number as last year.
A court spokesman confirms the number, but the court isn't saying which of them will attend. Even so, it's possible to make a very good guess.
It's a cinch that the justices nominated by Democratic presidents will be there -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. As for the other two, Anthony Kennedy is very likely to attend, as he has at the last four addresses.
That leaves the sixth spot. We know it won't be Samuel Alito, who is in Hawaii for a long-standing speaking engagement. He wasn't on the bench Monday when the court handed down opinions, either.
My guess: Chief Justice John Roberts. He has attended every one of the speeches since he came on the court. And despite the dust-up over last year's State of the Union -- when President Obama criticized the court's ruling in the big campaign spending case and Roberts later called the annual event "a political pep rally" -- the mood this year is different.
Members of Congress want to emphasize their ability to behave in a civil manner. Against that backdrop, a decision by Roberts to stay away would seem especially obvious. For that reason, it's highly likely he'll there tonight.
And now, the data: In the past 16 years, six is the largest number of justices to attend a State of the Union (or speech to a joint session of Congress in the years when it's not formally the State of the Union address). In 2006-2008, just four attended. Two came in 2002. Justice Stephen Breyer was the only justice to attend in 2001 and 2003-2005. And no justices at all came in 2000.
All federal judges in Tucson have taken themselves off the case of Jared Loughner.
A brief order filed late Wednesday by Judge Raner Collins, on behalf of the other Tucson federal judges and magistrate judges, said, "[I]n order to avoid the appearance of impropriety, and because a judge has a duty to disqualify him or herself if his or her impartiality could be reasonably questioned, whether or not such impartiality actually exists, this Court must recuse itself."
Judy Clarke, Loughner's defense lawyer, has been notified by a court clerk that if she wants to claim that every federal judge in Arizona should also be disqualified, she must file a motion promptly.
Alaska Republican Joe Miller is asking a federal judge to lift an order that blocked the state from certifying Lisa Murkowski as the winner of the state's U.S. Senate election. But, at the same time, Miller urges the judge to let him continue challenging the method that was used to count write-in ballots.
A federal judge had set a deadline of 9 am Monday, Alaska time, for filing legal papers to keep the lawsuit alive. "With the election results certified, and Alaska's full congressional delegation representing the interests of Alaska's citizens in Congress, it will not be necessary to dispose of this case in an extremely expedited manner," Miller's lawyers said in court documents filed shortly before the deadline.
They asked the judge to suspend the deadline for Miller to seek a recount or to challenge the manner in which the votes were tallied.
Miller originally went to federal court a week after the general election, claiming the state was improperly counting write-in votes for Murkowski. The federal lawsuit was on hold while Miller and elections officials battled in state court over the meaning of a provision of Alaska election law. It specifies that a write-in vote must be counted if the name of the candidate is written as it appears on the candidate's declaration to run.
Miller argued that the law requires voters to write a candidate's name precisely, with no abbreviations or misspellings. He challenged the state's interpretation of the law, which allowed votes to be counted despite minor misspellings.
Last week, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the state, holding that the key to interpreting election law is preventing votes from being tossed out if a voter's intent can be determined. The court said the law doesn't require perfection in how a candidate's name is written.
The Justice Department says the government will appeal Monday's ruling that found a portion of the health-care law unconstitutional.
The Department believes this case should follow the ordinary course of allowing the courts of appeals to hear it first so the issues and arguments can be fully developed before the Supreme Court decides whether to consider it. As Judge Hudson noted in denying an injunction, the individual responsibility provision does not go into effect until 2014, so there is more than sufficient time for the courts to consider this case in their normal course of business.
Arizona seemed headed for victory in the U.S. Supreme Court after the justices heard a challenge Wednesday to the state's law providing harsh penalties for businesses that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
If the state does carry the day, the absence of Justice Elena Kagan -- who recused herself from hearing the case -- may be the key factor. Based on the oral argument in the courtroom, the legal battle seemed likely to result in a 4-4 tie, with the court's liberal and conservative justices evenly divided. Had Kagan participated, she might have tipped the balance, and Arizona might have lost. But a tie vote would leave the lower court ruling, which favored Arizona, undisturbed.
Kagan has declined to sit in on cases which her office handled when she was solicitor general at the Justice Department. The federal government filed briefs opposing the state.
This was not the showdown over Arizona's controversial law requiring police to detain suspected illegal aliens -- the case which is now on appeal and has not yet reached the Supreme Court. Instead, the justices today heard a challenge to a law passed three years ago that gives the state authority to revoke a company's license to do business if it knowingly hires illegal workers. Opponents call that sanction as "the death penalty for business."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups claim the Arizona statute is preempted by federal immigration law, which sets out the procedures employers must follow to verify a job applicant's legal status and the punishments for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. The federal law says it preempts any state or local laws that impose punishments "other than through licensing or similar laws."
Arizona's law gives the state the power to revoke a business license for employees who fail to use the federal database, a system known as E-Verify, and knowingly hire illegal workers.
"This is not a licensing law. This is a worker authorization sanctioning law," said Carter Phillips, a D.C. lawyer representing the Chamber of Commerce.
But Justice Antonin Scalia, whose comments seemed most forcefully to support the state, said Arizona was forced into adopting its own system because the federal government has failed to adequately police the hiring of illegal workers.
"I agree this step is massive, and one wouldn't have expected it to occur under this statute, but expectations change when the federal government has simply not enforced the immigration restrictions," he said.
The Justice Department has asked a federal court to put a hold on the judge's order this week that declared the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional.
"The Government intends to appeal the Court's decision. During the pendency of that appeal, the military should not be required to suddenly and immediately restructure a major personnel policy that has been in place for years, particularly during a time when the Nation is involved in combat operations overseas," said Clifford Stanley, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness in documents filed this afternoon in a California federal court. The magnitude of repealing the DADT law and policy is demonstrated by the Department's ongoing efforts to study the implications of repealing DADT."
What's more, Stanley says, "an injunction before the appeal in this case has run its course will place gay and lesbian servicemembers in a position of grave uncertainty. If the Court's decision were later reversed, the military would be faced with the question of whether to discharge any servicemembers who have revealed their sexual orientation in reliance on this Court's decision and injunction. Such an injunction therefore should not be entered before appellate review has been completed."
The U.S. Supreme Court has decided it will release the audio of every single oral argument -- but with a delay. The audio will be released each Friday on the court's Web site during weeks when argument is conducted.
However, this means the court will no longer release any of the audio to news organizations on the same day oral argument is heard. It is, apparently, some kind of a compromise. This way, the court can say it's releasing the audio. But it won't come out in time to be used in any same-day broadcasts.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to throw Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) a lifeline in his struggle to get his name on the ballot so that he can stay in the U.S. Senate for the next few months, through the end of the current Congress. Justice Stephen Breyer, to whom the case was directed, suggested that the case simply comes too late.
For those not following the legal drama in Illinois, here's the background. After Barack Obama was elected president, creating a vacancy in the Senate, the Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, appointed Burris to fill the remainder of the Obama Senate term -- until January 2011 -- and Burris was seated in January 2009. But a group of Illinois residents sued, claiming the U.S. Constitution required the state to schedule an election at some point to fill out the term, rather than simply allowing the governor's appointment to carry Burris all the way through to its end.
A federal appeals court agreed, and ruled that Illinois law requires the state to let voters decide at the Nov. 2nd general election who will serve out the term. To accommodate the state's complaint that it didn't have enough time to meet such a requirement, further court wrangling produced another judicial order in early August: the candidates would be the same ones who are already running for the Senate in Illinois for a full term beginning in the next Congress. That left Sen. Burris out in the cold, because he chose much earlier not to run for another term.
In early September, Burris went to court hoping to get his name on the ballot for what's left in the Senate term. He argued that because the deadline for becoming a Senate candidate expired before the courts ordered a special election, potential candidates for the unexpired term had no chance to get themselves on the ballot. The state, on the other hand, urged the court to leave this mess alone. Burris may be a casualty on the legal battlefield, the state said, but that's nothing compared to the chaos that would result if the Supreme Court were to step in and order further changes to its election plans.
Burris directed his appeal to Breyer, who late Monday turned him down. Without elaboration, Breyer cited three previous Supreme Court cases in which justices declined to take up last-minute appeals. Two of them involved 11th-hour challenges to election ballots. Without actually saying so, Breyer strongly suggested it's simply too late in the process for further court interference.
In a wide-ranging interview with NBC's Brian Williams that will appear this evening on "Nightly News," Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer discussed the controversial Bush v. Gore decision, as well as whether there should be TV cameras inside the court.
On Bush v. Gore:
Williams: Do you think Bush v. Gore hurt the credibility of the modern court?
Williams: For how long?
Breyer: I don't know. That's up to historians. I thought that the-- the decision, I was in dissent. I-- I obviously thought the majority was wrong. But I've heard Harry Reid, who is the-- he's the chief of the Democratic forces, the Democrats in the Congress-- he-- he said-- I heard him say this, and I agree with it completely. He said, "The most remarkable thing about that case, Bush vs. Gore, is something hardly anyone remarks." And that remarkable thing, is even though more than half the public strongly disagreed with it, thought it was really wrong it, they followed it.
On whether TV cameras should be in the U.S. Supreme Court:
Williams: In this, the era of transparency, would it be a little better for our understanding of the court if we could see more of your work?
Breyer: In other words, should we have television in the courtroom? This is a very good question. And-- the answer to me is not obvious. We haven't voted on it. I haven't had to take a position. The reasons for doing it are obvious. I mean, television is part of the press. And I think wouldn't it have been a wonderful thing if television could've been in the courtroom and seen the oral argument, for example, in the case of term limits, and many of these cases. You would've seen nine people struggling towards an answer in a very, very difficult kind of question.
But the end-- the arguments the other way are less obvious, but they're no less valid. If we brought Con-- television in, you think we'd be in every courtroom in the country, including criminal cases. If we brought-- you know, people see their neighbors, or they're worried about being seen by their neighbors, where the witnesses suddenly realize the whole community's watching them testify, I-- I don't know. Problem.
Justice Department lawyers are preparing to ask a federal judge to put a hold on his ruling this week that blocks awarding further federal grants for stem-cell research.
The federal government intends to appeal the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth. But an administration official says government lawyers will also argue that the injunction imposed by the judge will seriously jeopardize ongoing stem-cell research. Justice Department lawyers are now gathering affidavits to support that claim, the official says.
Groups opposed to research on stem cells obtained from human embryos have praised the judge's order. Americans United for Life called it a sensible ruling -- one that "reconfirms what we already knew, that administration policy is in violation of the law."
But some legal scholars are questioning Judge Lamberth's conclusion that the Obama administration's policy violates a federal law, one that says no federal funds can be used for research "in which" human embryos are destroyed. Because obtaining the stem cells destroys embryos, the judge said, it follows that subsequent research "is clearly research in which an embryo is destroyed."
But an expert on health-care law argues that the congressional ban does not prohibit federal funding of research that is "related to, associated with, has a connection to, or builds upon the fruits of" embryo destruction.
"It only prohibits funding of research in which embryos are destroyed," says UCLA Professor Russell Korobkin.
Because the law at issue is tacked onto congressional appropriations bills, he says, "the reasonable interpretation of the scope of the research in question is to follow the money in the grant request. If the grant application seeks money for an activity that directly results in embryo destruction, this proposal constitutes research "in which" the embryo is destroyed."
But writing on the legal blog of fellow UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, Korobkin said if an applicant seeks money to study an existing stem-cell line, the research in question is not research "in which" the embryo is destroyed.