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Tag: Elena Kagan

Ex-Atty. Gen. Ashcroft Dodges Bullet; Supreme Court Tosses Lawsuit Against Him

John Ashcroft/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Ex-Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft is off the hook.

In an 8-0 ruling, the Supreme Court tossed out a lawsuit against Ashcroft. It overturned a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, saying the former Attorney General under President Bush  enjoyed “qualified immunity” from a lawsuit filed by Abdullah al Kidd, a former University of Idaho football player who converted to Islam.

The court ruled that Ashcroft did not clearly violate the 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures.

FBI agents arrested Kidd in 2003 at Dulles Airport and detained him for 16 days in three different states as a material witness supposedly for a pending case. He was never charged and never called as a witness.

Kidd claimed Ashcroft abused his power by detaining him as a material witness. He also alleged the arrest was part of a bigger plan by the Bush administration to round up Muslims, regardless if whether they had ties to terrorism.

But the Supreme Court, in a ruling written by Justice Antonin Scalia, wrote: “The affidavit accompanying the warrant application (as al-Kidd concedes) gave individualized reasons to believe that he was a material witness and that he would soon disappear.”

“Qualified immunity gives government officials breathing room to make reasonable but mistaken judgments about open legal questions. When properly applied, it protects ‘all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law’,” the court wrote.

”We hold that an objectively reasonable arrest and detention of a material witness pursuant to a validly obtained warrant cannot be challenged as unconstitutional on the basis of allegations that the arresting authority had an improper motive. Because Ashcroft did not violate clearly established law, we need not address the more difficult question whether he enjoys absolute immunity.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor voted to overturn the lower court ruling, but conceded that the law in this area is not completely clear. Justice Elena Kagan did not participate.

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Let the Games Begin: President Officially Nominates Solicitor Gen. Elena Kagan for Supreme Court

kagan cnnBy Allan Lengel
ticklethe wire.com

Let the games begin.

With the smiling nominee flanked to his left, and his vice president to his right, President Obama on Monday morning announced the nomination of Solicitor General Elana Kagan for the Supreme Court.

Heaping superlatives upon superlatives, he called her a “superb” Solicitor General and said she embodies excellence and integrity.

She was the first woman to head up the Harvard Law School and the first female Solicitor General. It would be the first time in history three women were serving on the Supreme Court.

Some Republicans are anxious to grill her and scruitinize her liberal credentials.

So if you can’t afford to go on vacation in the earlier part of the summer, there should be plenty entertainment on C-Span as the hearings on her confirmation kick into high gear.

Kagan said she was honored to fill the seat of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who is retiring. She said she was sad her parents were not around to share her joy.

Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano Reportedly on Supreme Court List

Gov. Napolitano/official photo

Gov. Napolitano/official photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON —  Janet Napolitano, who has served as Secretary of Homeland Security since January 2009, is reported to be among the top candidates to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

Napolitano has a pretty deep resume. She served as Governor of Arizona, Attorney General of the state and as U.S. Attorney for Phoenix under the Clinton Administration.

Other top choices reportedly being considered include Elena Kagan, 49, the U.S. Solicitor General, the fourth highest ranking post at the Justice Department,  Diane Pamela Wood, 59, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge in Chicago and Merrick B. Garland, 57, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge in D.C.

Other longer shots include Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Three Front Runners For Supreme Court Spot Have Had or Do Have Ties to Justice Dept; 2 Are Jewish

Elena Kagan

Elena Kagan

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON –– Three of the leading candidates reportedly being considered to replace the retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens all have had or do have ties to the Justice Department and two are Jewish, according to media reports.

Elena Kagan, 49, the U.S. Solicitor General, the fourth highest ranking post at the Justice Department, is Jewish and Diane Pamela Wood, 59,  a U.S. Court of Appeals judge in Chicago, is Jewish, AP reported. Wood worked for the Justice Department in different posts including  deputy assistant attorney general for international, appellate and policy matters for the Antitrust Division.

Judge Diane Wood

Judge Diane Wood

The third candidate Merrick B. Garland, 57, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge in D.C.,  worked as an assistant U.S. Attorney General  and went into private practice before returning to the government as an assistant U.S. Attorney in D.C.  He later went on to work as a deputy assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s criminal division and was then principal associate deputy U.S. attorney general before going on the bench.

jennifer granholm

Other candidates mentioned include Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who worked as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Detroit in the 1990s.

Another person mentioned is Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick,  who was an assistant Attorney General for civil rights under the Clinton administration, according to AP.

Currently, two Justices on the Supreme Court — Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer — are Jewish

Elena Kagan Sworn in as 1st Woman Solicitor General

Elena Kagen

Elena Kagan

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — Elena Kagan was sworn in Friday, becoming the first woman Solicitor General of the United States.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. swore in the former Dean of Harvard Law School, in a ceremony held in his U.S. Supreme Court chambers.

“Elena Kagan’s intelligence, experience and commitment to the rule of law will make her an exceptional Solicitor General,” U.S. Atty. General Eric Holder said in a prepared statement. “With the addition of Elena Kagan, we are building a strong, effective leadership team to enforce our nation’s laws.”

Kagan is the 45th person to serve as Solicitor General of the United States.

Obama to Nominate David Ogden for Dep. Atty. General

David Ogden

David Ogden

By Alland Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON – As expected, private attorney David Ogden, a former Justice Department lawyer under President Clinton, will be the nominee for Deputy Attorney General.
President elect-Barack Obama made the announcement Monday morning.
Obama also  announced that he planned to nominate three other people from the Clinton administration to key posts: Elena Kagan for Solicitor General; Tom Perrelli for associate Attorney General and Dawn Johnsen for Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel.
According to the Obama press release:
  • Elena Kagan is currently the dean of Harvard Law School. She first started teaching as a visiting professor in 1999 and was appointed dean in 2003. Under Clinton, she served as associate counsel to president and later as deputy assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council.
    Tom Perrelli is currently Managing Patner of Jenner & Block’s Washington office and is co-chair of the firm’s Entertainment and New Media Practice. From 1997 to 1999 he served as counsel to Atty. Gen. Janet Reno.
    David Ogden is a member of the Department of Justice Agency Review lead for the Obama transition team, is  a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. Under the Clinton administration, he served as assistant Attorney General, Civil Division from 1999 to 2001. Prior to that he served as chief of staff to Atty. Gen. Janet Reno.
    Dawn Johnsen is currently a professor at Indiana University School of Law – Bloomington where she teaches constitutional law. She previously served in the Office of Legal Counsel for the Justice Department as acting assistant attorney general and as deputy assistant attorney general in the Clinton Administration.