Watch This Fireside side chat with AG Rob Bonta
Last week, California AG, Rob Bonta, sat down with ChangeLawyers Scholar, Antonio Reza, for a virtual fireside chat.
More of This There are now more public defenders serving as judges than ever before
While President Joe Biden's economic agenda is mired in Democratic infighting, the Senate is quietly making history with his judicial nominees.
The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 52-41 Monday to confirm Gustavo Gelpi to be a judge on the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Boston, making him the fifth new circuit judge with a background as a public defender on Biden's watch.
Set against recent history, that is a remarkable statistic. President Barack Obama confirmed five former public defenders to the appeals courts over his entire eight years, according to the progressive judicial group Demand Justice. Biden has matched that in his first nine months.
Overall, Gelpi is Biden's eighth new judge with experience as a public defender. That is as many as presidents Donald Trump, Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton landed in their first years combined, said Chris Kang, the chief counsel of Demand Justice.
"It really is amazing how far Biden has shifted the paradigm," Kang said. "This is going to be an important part of his legacy.”
With the latest confirmation, Biden is outpacing every other president since Richard Nixon in confirming circuit judges, who have the last word in most federal cases — although the pace will be difficult to maintain.
One of his new appellate judges is Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, a former public defender who is widely seen by people close to Biden as a future Supreme Court contender.
Read the story on NBC News
Less of This The Supreme Court’s brutal ruling that protects bad cops
Joanna Schwartz is a professor at the UCLA School of Law.
With two unsigned opinions, the Supreme Court on Monday seemed to double down on a nonsensical and impractical approach to qualified immunity.
The court sided with police officers who had been sued for civil rights violations, ruling that the officers involved are entitled to qualified immunity because there was no other case with similar enough facts to put each officer “on notice that his specific conduct was unlawful.”
In effect, the two decisions announced Monday mean plaintiffs need a prior case with nearly identical facts in order to overcome qualified immunity and hold public officials accountable.
Qualified immunity protects police officers and other government officials from being sued for money damages – even if they have violated the Constitution – if they have not violated “clearly established” law. The Supreme Court has made clear that, in most cases, the law is not clearly established unless a court previously held nearly identical facts to be unconstitutional.
Read the story on USA Today
Speaking Of… Justice Alito is trying to gaslight us
Last month, Justice Samuel Alito insisted that the Supreme Court’s critics are wrong. The Court is not “a dangerous cabal” that is “deciding important issues in a novel, secretive, improper way, in the middle of the night, hidden from public view,” he said. Reading aloud from a piece I wrote in the aftermath of the Court’s recent ruling on an abortion law, Alito insisted that it was “false and inflammatory” to say that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision had been nullified in Texas.
Alito’s speech perfectly encapsulated the new imperious attitude of the Court’s right-wing majority, which wants to act politically without being seen as political, and expects the public to silently acquiesce to its every directive without scrutiny, criticism, or protest. (As if oblivious to the irony, Alito’s office set ground rules barring media outlets from transcribing or broadcasting in full the speech at the University of Notre Dame, in which he delivered his complaint.)
Last month, that conservative majority allowed Texas’s most recent restrictions on abortion to go into effect. Without exceptions for rape and incest, the Texas law bars abortions after six weeks, before most women know they are pregnant, and deputizes citizens to sue those who “enable” abortions after that period for a $10,000 bounty. At midnight on the day after the law took effect, the Republican appointees on the Court, except for Chief Justice John Roberts, insisted that a procedural scheme adopted by anti-abortion activists for the precise purpose of avoiding judicial review had tied their hands.
This success by anti-abortion activists, who nullified a constitutional right merely by outsourcing its enforcement to private citizens, naturally drew scrutiny. The Court’s ruling appeared on its “shadow docket,” the emergency orders that the Court issues outside the regular process of review with limited briefing and without oral arguments—and thus without the typical degree of attention from the public or the justices themselves. In his speech, Alito said there was “absolutely nothing new about emergency applications,” and complained of “all the media and political talk about our sinister shadow docket.”
Read the story on The Atlantic
How Gen Z and Millennials are changing the law
California lawyers are only 32% people of color, but the workforce is growing more diverse with each passing year. At the same time, generational values of Millennials and Gen Z are beginning to permeate society, and also into law. What are some of these trends and why do they matter?
Featuring ChangeLawyers Executive Director, Chris Punongbayan.
October 27 at 12:00 Noon PST. Register here >