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Oct 9, 2013

Kagan, now in a robe, argues again for campaign finance limits

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The last time the U.S. Supreme Court heard a major campaign finance dispute, then-Solicitor General Elena Kagan stood at the lectern making the government’s case to the justices. On Tuesday she was on the bench, nearly as forceful, her sharp questions setting the tone for a defense of limits on political contributions and drawing caustic retorts from opposing justices.

Kagan, who argued the groundbreaking Citizens United case in September 2009 and then joined the nine-member court in August 2010, departed from her usual practice of waiting to jump into the give-and-take. Within the first five minutes of the hour-long session she began firing off worst-case scenarios at lawyers representing the latest challengers to federal campaign finance law.

Jul 4, 2013

Exclusive: Supreme Court’s Ginsburg vows to resist pressure to retire

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – At age 80, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, leader of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing, says she is in excellent health, even lifting weights despite having cracked a pair of ribs again, and plans to stay several more years on the bench.

In a Reuters interview late on Tuesday, she vowed to resist any pressure to retire that might come from liberals who want to ensure that Democratic President Barack Obama can pick her successor before the November 2016 presidential election.

Jun 27, 2013

Analysis – U.S. top court in no rush to grant national gay-marriage right

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When the U.S. Supreme Court declined on Wednesday to rule on whether gay men and lesbians have a fundamental right to marry, it delivered an implicit message to those seeking such a right: Don’t hurry back.

All nine of the justices, with their votes and rhetoric in a pair of cases, signalled they either would never be willing, or are not ready yet, to cut off the unfolding state-by-state legislative debate on gay marriage. The five-justice alliance that came together in one case to extend federal benefits to same-sex couples splintered in the other case to avoid facing a larger test on the constitutional right.

Jun 27, 2013

Analysis: Supreme Court in no rush to grant national gay-marriage right

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When the U.S. Supreme Court declined on Wednesday to rule on whether gay men and lesbians have a fundamental right to marry, it delivered an implicit message to those seeking such a right: Don’t hurry back.

All nine of the justices, with their votes and rhetoric in a pair of cases, signaled they either would never be willing, or are not ready yet, to cut off the unfolding state-by-state legislative debate on gay marriage. The five-justice alliance that came together in one case to extend federal benefits to same-sex couples splintered in the other case to avoid facing a larger test on the constitutional right.

Jun 27, 2013

U.S. top court in no rush to grant national gay-marriage right

WASHINGTON, June 26 (Reuters) – When the U.S. Supreme Court
declined on Wednesday to rule on whether gay men and lesbians
have a fundamental right to marry, it delivered an implicit
message to those seeking such a right: Don’t hurry back.

All nine of the justices, with their votes and rhetoric in a
pair of cases, signaled they either would never be willing, or
are not ready yet, to cut off the unfolding state-by-state
legislative debate on gay marriage. The five-justice alliance
that came together in one case to extend federal benefits to
same-sex couples splintered in the other case to avoid facing a
larger test on the constitutional right.

Jun 26, 2013

Analysis: U.S. chief justice realizes longstanding vision in voting-rights case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – For an often enigmatic figure at the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts spoke to the essence of his legal philosophy on Tuesday in eliminating a voting-rights provision enacted to protect blacks and other minorities.

His opinion for the court marks the culmination of an effort by conservatives, many of whom, like Roberts, cut their teeth in the Ronald Reagan administration, to ensure that federal voting requirements on the states be limited and race-based rules fade in contemporary America.

Jun 24, 2013

Analysis – U.S. court takes small step to bridge ideological divide

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It may never be clear what happened behind the scenes at the U.S. Supreme Court to yield Monday’s compromise decision upholding university affirmative action. The case was heard in October, the first month of the term, and as the months went by and the justices deliberated in secret, the suspense grew.

Would this conservative-dominated court end university affirmative action? Closely watching were supporters who emphasized that education remains a gateway to opportunity for long-excluded blacks and Hispanics, as well as critics who said racial policies are unfair and no longer required in multicultural America.

Jun 24, 2013

Analysis: Supreme Court takes small step to bridge ideological divide

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It may never be clear what happened behind the scenes at the U.S. Supreme Court to yield Monday’s compromise decision upholding university affirmative action. The case was heard in October, the first month of the term, and as the months went by and the justices deliberated in secret, the suspense grew.

Would this conservative-dominated court end university affirmative action? Closely watching were supporters who emphasized that education remains a gateway to opportunity for long-excluded blacks and Hispanics, as well as critics who said racial policies are unfair and no longer required in multicultural America.

Jun 21, 2013

Analysis: At U.S. high court, high anxiety over big cases

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Chief Justice John Roberts clutched a sheaf of papers when he and his black-robed colleagues ascended the mahogany bench on Thursday for one of the last days of the U.S. Supreme Court term.

Was he ready to announce a ruling in any of the four most anticipated cases? Two involve same-sex marriage, one the 1965 Voting Rights Act and one a university’s use of race in admissions. As Justice Elena Kagan began reading the first of three opinions that would be issued, Roberts kept looking down at his papers, reading over them and rubbing his forehead, his jaw taut. That only heightened the tension for spectators.

Jun 18, 2013

Special Report: For top U.S. lawyers, case in Guam is rare prize

HAGATNA, Guam (Reuters) – Steven Levin lives alone on a boat docked off the coast of the Pacific island of Guam, about as far away from the U.S. mainland as an American resident can get. He has no wife or kids, no job, no phone or Internet service.

But last year, the itinerant 64-year-old had something of great value to elite lawyers half a world away: a case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Within hours after the justices announced that they would hear it, attorneys at some of the nation’s most prestigious law firms began pitching their services to Levin, offering to represent him for free.

    • About Joan

      "Joan Biskupic is editor in charge, Legal Affairs, for Reuters. She has reported on the Supreme Court since 1989. Her new book is "Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice.""
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