U.S. Supreme Court

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Over the next few months, the Supreme Court battle between conservative and liberal interest groups over nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh is expected to cost tens of millions of dollars and leave a lasting impact on the nation's political landscape.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Steffen Schmidt, Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University, and Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College, for their analysis of this contentious fight for the Supreme Court.

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Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says it’s time for the Senate Judiciary Committee to get to work after President Trump announced a nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court Monday night.

Grassley chairs the committee. He says it will likely take at least 65 to 70 days before Judge Brett Kavanaugh gets a confirmation hearing.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says the U.S.  Senate Judiciary Committee that he chairs is beefing up staff to help evaluate President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.        

And Grassley says if past confirmation schedules are a guide, the new justice could be on the bench to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy by the opening of the court’s next term on the first Monday in October.   

President Trump will announce his choice on Monday.     

Lorie Shaull

Justice Anthony Kennedy’s announcement that he will retire from the U.S. Supreme Court this summer has put into question the future of abortion rights in the United States.

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Twenty-two Iowans have applied to become the state’s newest Supreme Court justice.

The State Judicial Nominating Commission will interview applicants July 9 to start the process of choosing a replacement for Justice Bruce Zager. He is retiring effective Sept. 3.

This is the first Iowa Supreme Court vacancy since 2011. Some court watchers see it as an opportunity to diversify the state’s highest court because all seven justices are currently white men.

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Employers can force workers to settle disputes outside of court, the U.S. Supreme Court said this week, which could negatively affect agricultural workers and employees who earn low wages.

U.S. Supreme Court Cases Pending and Decided

Apr 19, 2018
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Andrew Bardwell

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with legal analysts Todd Pettys, H. Blair and Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation and law professor at the University of Iowa, and Tony Gaughan, Professor of Law and Drake University Law School about prominent cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Along with some other courts news, here are some of the cases they discuss:

Benisek v. Lamone and Gill v Whitford  – Both are gerrymandering cases.

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Can a cake baker refuse to make a cake based on a religious objection to the event it is celebrating? A case relating to that concept will be in front of the U.S. Supreme Court this term. 

In this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined for legal analysis by Todd Pettys, H. Blair and Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation and University of Iowa Professor of Law, and also Mark Kende, Professor of Law at Drake University, James Madison Chair in Constitutional Law, and Director of the Drake Constitutional Law Center.

Here are the cases we review:

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During their spring session, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that social media is a constitutional right. It also decided cases regarding same-sex parents and birth certificates, a case involving a potentially offensively named band and the protected status of offensive speech, and a case involving President Trump's travel ban. 

Today the full Senate will debate the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the fate of the filibuster hangs in the balance. 

Democrats will probably vote to extend debate on the vote indefinitely, which effectively blocks the nomination. If this happens, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will likely pull the use of the filibuster for Supreme Court appointments, and this would result in Gorsuch’s confirmation. 

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President Trump's nominee to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court has faced questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. Judge Neil Gorsuch has been asked about his view of the Constitution, legal precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade, and whether the president would be violating the law if he authorized torture for terrorists.

The nominee has declined to give many answers, saying he might have to rule on such matters in future cases. That has many questioning the purpose of the committee hearings.

EIGHTH CIRCUIT BAR ASSOCATION

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Iowa and six other Midwestern states, will soon be the most "lopsided" federal appeals court in terms of the number of judges appointed by a single party.

As Rox Laird writes in the Iowa appellate court blog "On Brief", due to several retirements, President Donald Trump is expected to appoint three new judges to the Eight Circuit’s bench. This means only one of the court’s eleven judges won’t be a Republican appointee.

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.

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Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down one of the biggest cases on abortion in a quarter century. The court also issued several other rulings, including a case about affirmative action in college admissions, and another regarding when people convicted of domestic violence can own a gun. What does it all mean for you, and how will these cases reverberate around Iowa and around the nation?

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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.

Iowa Public Radio / Amy Mayer

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland are meeting for breakfast soon. But Grassley says the meeting won’t change his mind about not holding confirmation hearings for Garland.

The Iowa Republican heads the Senate Judiciary Committee. Grassley says he spoke with Garland over the phone yesterday, though the two still have to set a date for their breakfast.

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.

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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.

A group of 360 legal scholars from across the country says Iowa’s U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and other Senate Republicans are exceeding their constitutional authority by refusing to agree to Supreme Court confirmation hearings. A letter from the scholars was organized by a liberal-leaning legal advocacy group, called the Alliance for Justice. 

Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he will not consider any Obama nominee, regardless of his or her qualifications. 

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. 

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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.

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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.

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U.S. Senator Charles Grassley told a town hall meeting Tuesday in Marengo that President Obama should defer to the next President in appointing a Supreme Court Justice to replace Antonin Scalia.

“I’m pretty clear that this should carry over to the next election,” Grassley told the town hall meeting in Marengo’s public library.

Grassley, who chairs the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, has a key role in determining the Senate’s consideration of any nominee President Barack Obama would nominate to fill the vacancy left by Scalia’s death on February 13th.

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.

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