The composition of the federal judiciary is a civil rights issue of profound importance to all Americans. The individuals charged with dispensing justice in our society have a direct impact on civil rights protections for all. As such, the federal judiciary must be perceived by the public as an instrument of justice, and the individuals who are selected for this branch of government must be the embodiment of fairness and impartiality.
May 18, 2010 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
The U.S. Supreme Court held yesterday (6-3) that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment does not permit the imposition of a life sentence without the possibility of parole for juveniles who commit non-homicide offenses.
May 13, 2010 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved by a vote of 12-7 Goodwin Liu's nomination to be a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
May 11, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Still seeking justice after last year's Supreme Court ruling that limited the right to challenge age discrimination in the workplace, Jack Gross last week testified before members of Congress about the need to pass the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act.
May 10, 2010 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
President Obama nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan today to replace the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court. In her current role as solicitor general, Kagan is the primary lawyer representing the U.S. government – and therefore, the interests of the American people – before the Court.
April 9, 2010 - Posted by Tyler Lewis
Justice John Paul Stevens announced today that he will retire in June at the end of the U.S. Supreme Court's current term.
Stevens, who will turn 90 this month, is the currently the court's oldest and longest-serving member. He was nominated by President Gerald Ford to succeed Justice William O. Douglas in 1975, after serving five years as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
February 2, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
In honor of Black History Month, SCOTUSblog, a blog that covers the U.S. Supreme Court, will run a series of articles throughout February focusing on the impact that the Supreme Court has had on race, in the law and in American society.
December 7, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
John Payton, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week on a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that will limit Americans' access to courts.
November 16, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote tomorrow on the confirmation of President Obama's first nominee to the federal courts, Judge David Hamilton, who was nominated eight months ago for a seat on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Hamilton's nomination was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 4, but his confirmation vote has been delayed unnecessarily since then.
Despite a distinguished record and bipartisan support, Judge Hamilton may face a Republican filibuster. Senators James Inhofe, R. Okla., and Jeff Sessions, R. Ala., have pledged to vote against taking up Hamilton's confirmation and have urged their colleagues to do the same.
The delaying tactics used against Judge Hamilton's nomination are one example of the obstructionist tactics that have been used to block President Obama's judicial and executive nominees this year. Civil rights groups argue that it is particularly troubling that these tactics are being applied to Judge Hamilton, who has proven to be an uncontroversial jurist earning high praise and a wide range of support throughout his career. Judge Hamilton has served for 15 years as a federal district judge in his home state of Indiana where he has earned the support of both of his state's senators, Democrat Evan Bayh and Republican Richard Lugar.
In a floor statement today in support of Judge Hamilton's nomination, Sen. Lugar said, "I believe our confirmation decisions should not be based on partisan considerations, much less on how we hope or predict a given judicial nominee will rule on particular issues of public moment or controversy. I have instead tried to evaluate judicial candidates on whether they have the requisite intellect, experience, character and temperament that Americans deserve from their judges, and also on whether they indeed appreciate the vital, and yet vitally limited, role of the federal judiciary faithfully to interpret and apply our laws, rather than seeking to impose their own policy views. I support Judge Hamilton's nomination because he is superbly qualified under both sets of criteria."
November 9, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two separate cases to determine whether sentencing juveniles to life in prison without the possibility of parole for non-homicide crimes violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
Sullivan v. Florida is the case of Joe Sullivan, who was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole 20 years ago at the age of 13. Graham v. Florida is the case of Terrance Jamar Graham, who violated parole at age 17 and was sentenced, without a trial, to life without parole. Both cases took place in Florida, one of only six states that have imprisoned juveniles for life without parole for non-homicide offenses.
Many civil rights groups, academics, and social scientists have spoken out against these sentencing practices. Charles Ogletree — who joined in a brief submitted by the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., in support of Graham and Sullivan — said that the Court should apply the same logic to these case it used to decide Roper v. Simmons, which struck down capital punishment for minors as unconstitutional.
"The same transient qualities of adolescence that the Court relied upon in Roper make it similarly inappropriate to subject a teenager to a permanent punishment of life in prison without parole. It is cruel and inaccurate, as the Court has recognized, to pass a final and irreversible judgment on a person whose character is still forming and undergoing significant changes," Ogletree said.
How the Courts Work
Civil Rights in the Courts
Supreme Court Decisions
What's At Stake
What's At Stake
In The News
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