In February I joined Reuters as Supreme Court reporter. Here are a few highlights from the last 11 months:
Gay marriage gets big boost in two Supreme Court rulings: Final report on the day of the Supreme Court’s two big rulings related to gay marriage in June 2013.
Chamber of Commerce turns to small courts for big wins: A look at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s legal strategy.
Analysis: Big business the winner in U.S. Supreme Court class action cases: A review of a series of Supreme Court rulings in class action cases in the 2012-2013 term.
National groups send a prayer to the Supreme Court: Reporting from Greece, NY on a Supreme Court case about the practice of allowing prayers before town meetings.
Analysis: U.S. air pollution authority faces Supreme Court test: Examining two cases concerning the Clean Air Act before the Supreme Court in its 2013-2014 term.
What goes around comes around for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
Back in June 2002, Kagan, then a professor at Harvard Law School and an expert on presidential power, wrote a letter to Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., giving her legal insight into a provision of what became known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The question was whether the creation of a Public Company Accounting Oversight Board to oversee accounting firms would violate the Appointments Clause of the Constitution. There was concern about the fact that its members would not be directly appointed (or removed) by the president, thereby undermining executive power. Instead the Securities and Exchange Commission would oversee it.
Kagan, in a brief letter contained in the questionnaire materials returned to the Senate Judiciary Committee today as part of the Supreme Court confirmation process, said that the proposal was constitutional. The board members would be considered “inferior officers” under the Constitution “validly appointed under the terms of the Appointments Clause,” she wrote.
Fast-forward seven years, and, in December 2009, in her role as solicitor general, Kagan stood before the Supreme Court and made the essentially the same argument when the issue finally made its way to the high court. Free Enterprise v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, 08-861. The court is yet to rule in the case, and Kagan was duty bound to defend the statute regardless of what her personal views were. But the letter does indicate that, in this case at least, her own views were reflected in the argument she made.