Gabe Rottman,
Legislative Counsel,
ACLU Washington Legislative Office
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September 28, 2005

Before getting into the relatively scanty pre-vote Roberts coverage, Slate mentions the ACLU of Pennsylvania’s lawsuit in Dover challenging the school district’s decision to teach “intelligent design” as an “alternative” to evolution.

In anticipation of the full Senate vote Thursday on Judge Roberts’s nomination to replace Chief Justice Rehnquist, the media continues to come out with follow-ups on his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and his past record on issues likely to come before the court during his (very long) tenure.

The New York Times had a piece yesterday reporting on a scathing memorandum, mistakenly attributed to Roberts, criticizing New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark case requiring government officials (in that case a Southern city commissioner) alleging libel to prove “actual malice.” Turns out the critique was actually written by Bruce Fein, general counsel for the Federal Communications Commission under President Reagan.

The update, however, does note another short memorandum written by Judge Roberts on Times v. Sullivan:

In that memorandum, dated Aug. 28, 1985, Mr. Roberts offered what he called “my own personal view” on the proper balance between the interests of libel plaintiffs and the interests of the press. He said he would favor relaxing the standards established by the Sullivan case, which gave the press increased protection from libel suits brought by public officials, in exchange for eliminating punitive damages, which can often account for the bulk of libel awards.

The Times also has this run-down on the Senate politicking and potential O’Connor replacements. Here’s the Post on replacements, mentioning Harriet Miers, current White House counsel, and Larry Thompson, formerly John Ashcroft’s deputy attorney general, who personally approved the “extraordinary rendition” of Maher Arar, the Canadian man who was effectively kidnapped at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and sent to Syria where he was allegedly tortured during interrogation.

Here’s Ron Brownstein at the Los Angeles Times on potential vote arithmetic.

Finally, we learned yesterday that SCOTUS will take a new state campaign finance case, and is being prodded by the Bush administration to reverse the three appellate court decisions overturning the latest so-called “Partial Birth Abortion” ban, which does not include an exception to safeguard the health of the mother.

It also agreed to decide the long-running feud between Playboy model and Trim Spa devotee Anna Nicole Smith and the son of her late husband, J. Howard Marshall, over claims on Marshall’s vast estate. The issue in the case is when federal courts may hear probate claims decided in state courts.

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