We anticipate another busy week this week. Congress is holding a number of votes and hearings heading into the July 4th recess, and the Supreme Court is wrapping up its 2007/08 term.
These are some of the highlights:
Supreme Court: Justice Watch will be keeping a close eye on the outstanding cases to be decided before the end of the term. After today’s session, we are still awaiting the release of seven decisions. The Court has already added an extra decision day, scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m., and many anticipate another on Thursday.
Of the seven remaining cases, the most significant might be D.C. v. Heller, better known as the D.C. handgun case. While the case certainly bears some weight for residents of the District, Heller also carries with it implications on future interpretations of the Second Amendment, and could profoundly affect other big cities around the U.S. There is a lot of speculation that the majority opinion will be authored by Justice Scalia; he is the only member of the Court who has not written a majority opinion for a case from the March sitting.
Also on the docket will be Exxon v. Baker, a case regarding the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill in Alaska. Exxon objects to the $2.5 billion in punitive damages awarded by the Ninth Circuit, and further claims that punitive damages are not legal in maritime cases. Respondents argue that, despite payment of compensatory damages and other fines, many people lost life savings, oil still remains in the water, and fish stocks and marine habitats have been impaired. Finally, Davis v. FEC represents a potentially important case in the realm of campaign finance, and may have an impact on the interpretation of the First Amendment.
Congress: Both the Senate and House Senate Judiciary Committees are set for action on Thursday. While the Senate committee is voting on four New York District Court nominees, the House committee will be holding another hearing on interrogation in Guantanamo Bay, dovetailing with last Tuesday’s “origins of aggressive interrogation” hearing in the Senate.
Meanwhile, the full Senate will vote on two Michigan nominees--Helene White and Raymond Kethledge--to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, perhaps as early as tomorrow. The Senate is also expected to vote on legislation updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which, after several amendments and compromises, has already been approved by the House.
It will be a busy week for us here at Justice Watch, so make sure to check back here for updates and commentary on what’s going on in the courts and on the Hill.