For a comedian-turned-politician with no formal legal training, the newest senator and Judiciary Committee member, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor some of the most complex but elucidating questions about Supreme Court cases we’ve heard yet. After bonding with Sotomayor over their mutual love of the Perry Mason show as kids, he launched into a series of probing questions ranging from whether there’s a right to Internet access, to constitutional interpretation in voting rights cases, express versus implied rights in the Constitution, and of course the all-important question about a woman’s right to an abortion.
And Sotomayor actually answered some of them.
In particular, asked by Franken whether she believes the Supreme Court’s recent decision invalidating part of the Voting Rights Act was an “activist” decision that overrode the intent of Congress and the language of the Constitution, she declined to comment on the Supreme Court’s opinion, but instead pointed out her own ruling in a previous case involving the Voting Rights Act, strongly implying that she thought the Supreme Court had indeed gone too far.
In the case she decided, “I suggested that issues of changes to the Voting Rights Act should be left to Congress in the first instance,” she said. That was one of the most direct answers on an issue likely to come before the court that she’s given yet.
And Franken wins points for asking another roundabout question meant to elicit her views on “judicial activism” — a phrase Sotomayor said she doesn’t like to use.
“How often have you decided a case on an argument or a question that the parties have not briefed?” asked Franken. This question goes to the heart of the Ricci reverse discrimination case, where the Supreme Court on its own set out a new standard for lower courts to follow, then refused to send the case back to the courts to let the parties brief how it applied to the facts at hand.
Sotomayor could not remember a single instance of doing that as a judge.
She also couldn’t remember, when Franken asked her as he wound up his questioning, the name of the one case that the prosecutor on the Perry Mason show won. To which Franken replied: “Didn’t they prepare you at the White House for this hearing?”
EPA Administrator Addresses Concerns About Oil Spill Waste Management
At a hearing of the national oil spill commission today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson addressed concerns about waste disposal from
E-Verify Mandate Begins Today
The Obama administration today begins implementation of a new mandate to require all federal contractors to check the legal status of their employees to confirm
EPA administrator defends allowing Florida to write its own water pollution rules
The EPA seal (Pic via sentryjournal.com) The Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire for its decision to allow the state of Florida to write its own water pollution rules (known as “numeric nutrient criteria”). EPA Regional Administrator Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming is now firing back, writing that the Agency commends the state Department of Environmental Protection for its draft of a proposed standard. A host of environmental groups filed suit in 2008, seeking to compel the EPA to implement a strict set of water pollution standards in Florida, arguing that the state was in violation of the Clean Water Act.
EPA administrator fires back at critics in op-ed
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (Pic by USACEpublicaffairs, via Flickr) EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson penned a new op-ed for the Los Angeles Times , criticizing House Republicans desperately seeking to undermine the authority of the agency they have dubbed a “job killer.” Arguing that the environment affects red states and blue states alike, Jackson writes that “it is time for House Republicans to stop politicizing our air and water.” As head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Jackson has faced harsh criticism from House Republicans and GOP presidential candidates who say the agency’s regulations are an undue burden on businesses that have to cut jobs simply to comply with clean water and air rules. Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann has pledged to end the EPA if she takes office. “Since the beginning of this year, Republicans in the House have averaged roughly a vote every day the chamber has been in session to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency and our nation’s environmental laws,” writes Jackson.
EPA Analysis Says Climate Bill’s Cost for Households Would Be ‘Modest’
All the attention on the energy front today is going to the BP spill, but the Environmental Protection Agency quietly released its long-anticipated analysis of
EPA administrator says federal nutrient criteria is a ‘myth’
In testimony given late last week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that false accusations about her agency’s numeric nutrient criteria to govern Florida waterways are proving to be a detriment to their implementation. # Testifying before the House Agriculture Committee, Jackson said her agency’s work was often “mischaracterized” and addressed several myths surrounding its work
EPA: BP Has 24 Hours to Find a Less Toxic Chemical Dispersant
Thought the massive quantities of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico were the only major threat to the country’s southeast coastal waters right now? Think
EPA biologist says fracking may be partly to blame for West Virginia fish kill
New documents obtained by an environmental news service show that an EPA analyst believes that wastewater from fracking may be partly responsible for a fish kill in a West Virginia river. Scientific American reports : U.S