Tales from the Trail

Traders put their money on Kagan to be Supreme Court pick

Traders are betting that there is a 75 percent chance that President Barack Obama will decide on U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court and that she would be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

That’s up 15 points from yesterday, according to the online market Intrade, which means that Kagan is by far the odds-on favorite to be the next Supreme Court justice.

USAObama is expected to announce soon, probably early next week, his selection for the Supreme Court vacancy that will be created by the retirement of liberal Justice John Paul Stevens at the end of the term in June. The president wants whomever he picks confirmed by the Senate before the high court reconvenes in October after its summer break.

Kagan, 50, the U.S. government’s top appellate lawyer and chief advocate before the Supreme Court, has been considered a leading candidate, along with appeals court judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland.

White House aides have been extremely tight-lipped about the selection process, though wagerers, some legal experts and some Washington, D.C., pundits are predicting it will be Kagan.

U.S. Supreme Court advice for Obama

Someone experienced in making hard decisions with the imagination to understand how rulings affect the lives of Americans. OBAMA/

Those words of advice came from Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Stephen Breyer as President Barack Obama searches for a replacement for retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

Testifying before Congress on the Supreme Court’s budget request, they gave their views about the type of person Obama should select, without getting into judicial philosophy. The U.S. Senate must confirm the nominee.

Specter believes Senate would reject filibuster against Obama’s pick for high-court ‘ideological battleground’

The person who arguably knows as much as anyone in the U.S. Senate about counting votes and judicial confirmation battles has some advice for President Barack Obama:

Pick a U.S. Supreme Court nominee without regard to a possible Republican procedural roadblock known as a filibuster.

Senator Arlen Specter said Obama also needs to make his selection understand that the nation’s highest court is an ideological battleground that has  moved sharply to the right in recent years. OBAMA/

Hillary Clinton for Justice?

NUCLEAR-SUMMIT/Would Secretary of State Hillary Clinton trade her globetrotting ways for the distinguished black robe of a Supreme Court Justice?

The Washington parlor game is in full swing over who President Barack Obama will pick to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

In the middle of it all, Clinton’s name was very publicly, and quite intriguingly, thrown into the mix this morning  — by a Republican.

Eyes glaze over at the U.S. Supreme Court

Not all U.S. Supreme Court cases involve blockbuster rulings on contentious issues like abortion, capital punishment and religious disputes about church-state separation — and on Wednesday even one of the justices admitted that one of their latest decisions might cause eyes to glaze over.

USA/The issue was whether a federal court may dismiss a class-action lawsuit that is barred by state law of whether a federal rule of civil procedure prevailed allowing the case to go forward.

Justice Antonin Scalia, the author of the court’s main opinion in the case, recounted the factual background of the dispute.

Blagojevich trial to begin in June

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s trial will begin in June, which gives fellow Democrats reason to squirm before the mid-term elections. BLAGOJEVICH/

The judge in Blagojevich’s corruption case turned down the defense’s request to delay the trial to November, which would have been after the November 2 election.

“I think there has been adequate time” to prepare, Judge James Zagel of the U.S. District Court in Chicago said.

Company dispenses with lobbyists and launches bid for Congressional seat


Murray Hill is running for Congress to rid Washington of lobbyists and weak-kneed politicians once and for all. And there may be no better candidate, for Murray Hill is not a frail human being but a company.

“Until now, corporate interests had to rely on campaign contributions and influence peddling to achieve their goals in Washington. But thanks to an enlightened Supreme Court, now we can eliminate the middle-man and run for office ourselves,” the public relations firm from Silver Spring, Maryland, says in a statement.

It’s referring to the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which has drawn a torrent of criticism from officials including President Barack Obama by treating corporations as human beings when it comes to the constitutional guarantee of free speech. Critics claim the decision will unleash a new flood of corporate money into U.S. election campaigns, including money from foreign companies.

4 years later, ex-House aide faces sentencing in Abramoff scandal

More than four years after agreeing to plead guilty in the Abramoff political lobbying scandal that rocked Washington, D.C., the press secretary for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay will learn late this summer how much time in prison he will face.


Michael Scanlon, who left DeLay to work with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, pleaded guilty in November 2005 to one count of conspiracy in defrauding Indian tribes of millions of dollars and lavishing gifts upon a member of the U.S. Congress.

He could be required to pay as much as $19.7 million in restitution to the tribes, a $250,000 fine and could face up to five years in prison.

Palin’s Exxon Valdez account draws guffaws

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Sarah Palin’s new memoir, “Going Rogue,” already has been strongly criticized by John McCain’s aides for her account as a vice presidential candidate on the ticket with him in their unsuccessful 2008 race for the White House.

Now, add Alaskan experts who were involved in the case over the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster saying her account over her role in the litigation is distorted for a number of reasons.

EXXON OIL SPILLIn the book, Palin claims to have helped the fishermen, Alaska Natives and other individuals suing Exxon over spill damages prevail in their legal case.

Broken clocks, laryngitis at the Supreme Court

In a place where the time to argue some of the most important legal issues in the United States is pivotal yet limited, clocks throughout the Supreme Court building were not working on Monday — including the big one behind the bench that attorneys arguing their case and that spectators in the audience can see.

After the justices went on the bench at 10 a.m., Chief Justice John Roberts noted the problem and pointed out that attorneys are sometimes told not to look at the clock during oral arguments. “That is particularly important today,” he said.

USA/Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said the problem stemmed from a “malfunction” with the court’s master clock. It apparently occurred when the clocks were to be turned back over the weekend for the end of daylight saving time.