The Supreme Court short list.

Taking stock of people and ideas in the news.
July 1 2005 11:34 AM

The Supreme Court Shortlist

The views of the likely candidates.

(Continued from Page 7)

For a unanimous panel, found that an anti-loitering statute was invalid as applied to a group of protesters staging a pro-life rally because the statute did not give them proper notice that the core political speech and expressive activity in which they were engaged was prohibited by law. However, the panel refused to find the city of Norfolk, Va., liable. (Lytle v. Doyle, 2003)

Judicial Philosophy

In a law review article, responded to the charge that the conservative "preoccupation with the abstract, the collective, and the impersonal has locked actual human beings out." Wilkinson argues that conservative jurisprudence is compassionate, but that it is also committed to crafting "narrow rulings" that show "deference to democratic solutions."

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In a law review article, defended the record of the Rehnquist Court. Wilkinson contends that the "modest" interventions of the Rehnquist Court are about preserving a space for state laws and do "not pose any threat to such basic premises of constitutional law" as the "binding effect of the Bill of Rights upon the states, or to the constitutional underpinnings of our most basic national civil rights statutes." 

Edith Brown Clement 

Edith Brown Clement
Edith Brown Clement

Age: 57 Graduated from: Tulane Law School. She clerked for: Judge Herbert W. Christenberry. She used to be: a judge on the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. She's now: a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit (appointed 2001).

Her confirmation battle: Clement doesn't provide much ammunition for opposition groups, but perhaps not much for conservatives to get excited about either. She hasn't written anything notable off the bench (or at least nothing that's come to light yet), and most of her judicial decisions have been in relatively routine and uncontroversial cases.

Civil Rights and Liberties

For a unanimous panel, allowed a plaintiff who sued the police for violating his right to due process to proceed with his claim that the officers who arrested him used excessive force when they allegedly injured him by slamming the door of their car against his head. Reversed the district court's finding that the plaintiff could also sue for unlawful arrest and excessive force involving the use of handcuffs. (Tarver v. City of Edna, 2005)

Environmental Protection and Property Rights

Voted for the 5th Circuit to rehear a decision blocking developers from building on a site where six endangered bug species lived in a cluster of limestone caves. Clement joined a dissent that argued that the decision's rationale for protecting the bugs—to preserve the interdependent web of species—bore no relationship to Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce. (GDF Realty Investments v. Norton, 2004)

Criminal Law

For a unanimous panel, rejected the claim of a man flying to Nigeria that his luggage was unlawfully searched at the border. Clement ruled broadly that customs inspectors need not have probable cause to search the bags of people who are leaving the country. (U.S. v. Odutayo, 2005)

Agreed with a unanimous panel that an asylum applicant who was 20 minutes late to a hearing because he'd taken the wrong highway exit should not have been ordered deported in absentia and was entitled to a new hearing. (Alarcon-Chavez v. Gonzales, 2005)

Habeas Corpus

Over a dissent, ruled that a death-row inmate who claimed to be mentally retarded was entitled to a lawyer to develop that claim in a habeas petition. Clement's ruling followed the Supreme Court's 2002 decision barring the execution of the mentally retarded. She followed up with a second opinion that limited the significance of her ruling by stating "this is a fact-bound case." (Hearn v. Dretke, 2004)