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Daily Update: Obama faces the press, new survey data on Hispanic voters

August 9, 2013 by NCC Staff


President Obama meets the press before his vacation as his administration agrees with Republicans about prayers at public meetings.

Friday, August 9, 2013

obamadronesItems To Watch

1. President Obama will hold a press conference on Friday in Washington at 3 p.m., while most of the power players in the city are on vacation, as are many other Americans.

2. A group backed by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is sticking up for Paul Ryan in a series of TV ads about immigration reform.

3. A new Gallup poll confirms that Hispanics in the U.S., regardless of where they were born, lean heavily toward the Democrats. But the Hispanics who support the GOP the most have one parent who wasn’t born in the U.S.

Developing Questions …

Here are some updates on new discussions about top-of-mind constitutional issues.

1. Is Chief Justice John Roberts over worked?

Before oral arguments most days the Supreme Court is in session, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. graciously welcomes lawyers who have been sworn in as new members of the Court’s bar. The act is a display of the executive skill he is exercising as head of the Judicial Conference, which sets administrative policy for the federal courts.

On the New York Times’ Opinionator blog, Yale Law School’s Linda Greenhouse raises a serious and useful question while following up a Times piece last month by Charlie Savage, which reported the chief justice’s responsibility for appointing the members of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Savage noted that Roberts has chosen judges appointed by Republican presidents for 11 of that court’s 12 seats.

In her piece “Too Much Work?,” Greenhouse says that in 2006, 81 statutes imposed legal duties on the Chief Justice, to serve as a regent of the Smithsonian Institution, to set rules for handling classified information, and to carry out other duties.

Last year, Northwestern Law School’s James Pfander anticipated this controversy in a law review article called “The Chief or the Court: Article II and the Appointment of Inferior Judicial Officers.” He argued that the Court is the recipient of this appointment power and that while the chief justice may play a part in exercising it as the Court’s designee, other justices should supervise the exercise.

As Greenhouse reminds, Yale Law School’s Judith Resnik and Pennsylvania Law School’s Theodore Ruger have recently been arguing that America is an outlier in giving such broad executive responsibility to the chief justice compared to other constitutional democracies and that Congress should consider separating the chief’s administrative and adjudicatory roles.

Resnik has recommended limiting the chief justice’s term to seven years, the term lengths for chief judges of federal trial and appeals courts. This subject is now of great interest to a niche of scholars focusing on the federal courts, because it’s apparent now that the principle they have been concerned about has substantial real-world consequences.


It was on this day in 1974 that Gerald Ford took the oath of President. The oath was administered to Ford by Chief Justice Warren Burger in the White House’s East Room.

Closing Notes

1. Sean Hannity is apparently out of Fox News’ primetime lineup, to be replaced by Megyn Kelly. And Alec Baldwin is reportedly in line for a spot on MSNBC, as the two cable networks prepare to approach mid-term elections in 2014.

2. The Obama administration is joining with Republicans in Congress in backing the ability of town councils to open their meetings with a Christian prayer.

Editor’s note: The Update is a summary of news and commentary about the Constitution and related issues, as reported around the digital world. Guest contributors and our editorial staff add to the daily update, and we welcome your suggestions (and reports) at [email protected].

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