U.S. Supreme Court

November Election Means Big Things for the Supreme Court

Sep 19, 2016
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​“I don’t think I need to persuade anyone that this is a critical election for the Supreme Court," says author Jeffrey Toobin.

Toobin, a staff writer for The New Yorker, a senior legal analyst for CNN and the author of critically acclaimed best sellers including The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, has spent most of his life following the inner workings of our nation’s highest court.

Al Ravenna, World Telegram & Sun

Thurgood Marshall is a familiar name to most, and his work as a Supreme Court Justice is known to many. But his enormous success as an attorney fighting for civil rights is not as prominent in our minds. Author Wil Haygood says that part of his life and legacy laid the groundwork for his Supreme court appointment. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland had their much anticipated breakfast meeting Tuesday morning in the Senate Dining Room. The Iowa Republican describes the conversation as “very pleasant," though he still won’t hold confirmation hearings for Garland.

Senator Chuck Grassley is caught in the middle of the controversy over whether or not to hold hearings on D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Jim McCormick, political science professor at Iowa State University says that the move to block hearings on the nomination is “odd.”

Despite criticism he’s keeping details of his schedule private to avoid protestors, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says he hasn’t changed protocol in 36 years.

Iowa’s senior Republican senator heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, and has been highly criticized for refusing to hold a confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

The senate is currently on recess, so Grassley is back in Iowa meeting with constituents. The senator has not made his full schedule public, which Democrats say is an attempt to elude unhappy constituents. 

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

About 50 people rallied outside the Federal Building in Des Moines Monday afternoon, calling on U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to hold hearings for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. 

The event was part of a nationwide call for senators to move ahead with hearings for President Obama's nominee to the high court.

It was organized by some three dozen groups, such as MoveOn.org, and included representatives from Iowa’s environmental and faith communities.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, is still saying he will not hold confirmation hearings, now that President Obama has selected a Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Iowa Public Radio / Amy Mayer

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says he's not harming the justice system by refusing to hold hearings for a U.S. Supreme Court nominee. 

Grassley says the public should decide the next justice when they vote for president in November. Democrats call this blatant partisanship. 

Mark Fischer / Flickr

Senate Republicans say there will be no hearings, no votes, and no new U.S. Supreme Court justice until the next president is sworn in next year.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with legal experts Todd Pettys of the University of Iowa and Tony Gaughan of Drake University about the impact Justice Scalia's death will have on current cases before the court, many of which are expected to now come down 4-4. Pettys says there could be an even number of justices until April of 2017.

By Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States / Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11761539

The death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia over the weekend has ignited a firestorm. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately said the next president, not Barack Obama, should make the nomination. That sentiment was echoed by Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Amy Mayer/IPR

The path to a lifelong appointment on the Supreme Court passes through the Senate Judiciary Committee. And with the opening created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia over the weekend, some in the Republican-controlled Senate are hoping to put off a replacement until after the November elections.

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who chairs the judiciary committee, says he is in no hurry to confirm a replacement for Justice Scalia.

Photo by John Pemble.

Fifty years ago this week, students in the Des Moines school district were suspended for wearing black armbands to silently protest the Vietnam War. They sued the district and lost, but eventually a Supreme Court decision ruled in their favor in a case considered a landmark for first amendment rights. This week those students are visiting Des Moines schools to share their history-making experience with a new generation. 

Eighth Circuit Bar Assocation

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments next month in Des Moines at Drake University.

Federal appeals courts are one level below the U.S. Supreme Court. The Eighth Circuit handles cases from Iowa and six other states. Usually the court only hears cases in St. Louis and St. Paul.

Joyce Russell/IPR file photo

Governor Branstad says last week’s momentous U.S. Supreme Court ruling will not have a big impact in Iowa, since same-sex marriage has been well-established in the state since 2009.  

The governor today commented on the fact that county officials in other states may try to deny licenses to same-sex couples in protest.   

Branstad says he’s not aware of any way that could happen here.

Victoria Pickering / Flickr

As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, Iowa’s health insurance model will remain intact.

King v. Burwell dealt with imprecise wording that called into question whether states participating in the federal healthcare exchange could receive subsidies that lower the cost of insurance premiums.

Because it uses a state-federal partnership exchange, it was unclear how much federal money Iowa stood to lose. But Pete Damiano of the University of Iowa’s Public Policy Center, says this ruling means Iowans will continue to receive federally-subsidized premiums.

Flickr / Jeff Kubina

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case next term involving a $5.8 million class-action lawsuit arising from a pork processing plant in northwest Iowa. Tyson Foods Inc. say that employees at its Storm Lake facility don't have enough in common to join in a single class-action lawsuit.

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The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments over same-sex marriage yesterday, with Justice Anthony Kennedy saying that he’s not sure the court has the power to redefine an institution that has been around for “millennia.”

University of Northern Iowa associate political science professor Donna Hoffman says that at its core, it's a tricky statement.

Clay Masters / IPR

Iowa was only the third state in the nation to legalize same sex marriage, but it was the first to do it unanimously.

Tom Witosky and Marc Hansen wrote “Equal Before the Law: How Iowa Led Americans to Marriage Equality.” Witosky says the unanimity of the decision and Iowa’s moderate reputation helped sway national public opinion towards marriage equality. He points out that polls started shifting significantly in favor of same sex marriage in 2009, the year after the Varnum vs. Brien decision.

Penn State / flickr

NPR legal affairs correspondent, Nina Totenberg, has covered the U.S. Supreme Court for many years, translating court cases and generating interest in the judicial system with audiences all over the country.

Jeff Kubina / flickr

Has the U.S. Supreme Court become a partisan institution? According to polls, many Americans think so.

The Iowa Supreme Court  ruled that the Iowa bar exam will remain a requirement to practice law in the state.    The Iowa State Bar Association had sought to  waive the exam for graduates of Iowa law schools.

Carol M. Highsmith / Library of Congress

While some say this year's Supreme Court session was conservative, others have characterized it as consistent.

Wikipedia

We often like to think of states in terms of red and blue, and people in terms of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.  But, the Pew Research Center finds our politics offers many more shades of gray.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with a Pew researcher about their latest political typology study and what hints it might provide for the upcoming midterm elections.  Are you a "Young Outsider," or a "Hard Pressed Skeptic?"  You can take the quiz

Nicholas Eckhart

Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of Hobby Lobby can be seen as "narrow" or "broad" - depending on how it's looked at. Today on River to River, we ask a political scientist and a legal expert what implications this ruling has for the future.

Today's guests include: Scott Peters, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Northern Iowa, and Mark Kende, Professor of Law at Drake and the Director of the Drake Constitutional Law Center.

U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling yesterday that upholds Michigan's right to bar racial preference in college admissions.  Or, at least we think so.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with Associate Professor of Political Science Tim Hagle from University of Iowa, and Joan and Abbott Lipsky Professor of Political Science Bruce Nesmith of Coe College about the ruling and what it means.  The opinions are confusing at best.  They also discuss the conflict in Ukraine, and the grassroots mobilization around a 2016 presidential run for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

401(K)2012 / flickr

Four years after the Citizens United ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has made a landmark decision that frees the nation's wealthiest donors to have greater influence in federal elections. Today on politics day, analysis of the court's decision.

Host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts Stephen Schmidt and Timothy Hagle.

Also, a last-minute enrollment surge enabled the White House to meet its original sign-up target for the Affordable Care Act, a surprising victory for the Obama administration. How does this change the political landscape?

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An anti-abortion group is waiting to hear if the  U.S. Supreme Court  will  reconsider  a ruling on  an Iowa campaign finance law.   Iowa passed its statute in response to the landmark case known as Citizens United.  

Iowa Right to Life says the law prevents  them from supporting  candidates who oppose abortion.     

The Iowa Attorney General is also waiting to hear if the U.S. Supreme Court will take on the case.  

William & Mary ACS

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013-2014 term started this month and after last year’s series of surprising and tumultuous rulings eyes again are trained on the nation’s highest court.

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