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May 25, 2012

Brewer's veto leaves Utah on its own trying to jump-start a new Sage­brush Rebellion to grab state control of federal public lands. A legislative analysis found that the Utah bill is also likely unconstitutional, but Utah Senator and self-proclaimed "constitutional scholar" Mike Lee thinks there's a way around that (as the Constitutional Account­a­bility Center says, "With friends like Senator Mike Lee, the Constitution needs no enemies.")

May 24, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court took a narrow view of the Constitution's double jeopardy clause on Thursday, allowing the retrial of an Arkansas man on murder charges even though the jury in his first trial voted unanimously that he was not guilty.... Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel of the Constitutional Accountability Center which filed a brief supporting Blueford, praised Sotomayor's dissent. "As the only former trial court judge on the Supreme Court bench, Justice Sotomayor knows well the threat to individual freedom from giving the prosecution two bites at the apple."

May 21, 2012

The court’s decision affirms the right to vote as a core constitutional right and Congress’s broad power to protect it, said David Gans, an attorney with the Constitutional Accountability Center in Washington. The organization filed a friend of the court brief in the case.

May 18, 2012

Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel of the Constitutional Accountability Center, which filed an amicus brief supporting the government, countered that the majority opinion “sets up the case very well” for supporters of the Voting Rights Act when the challenge reaches the Supreme Court.

May 15, 2012

To other Supreme Court lawyers, Scalia’s questions show a troubling pattern. Rather than merely probing legal arguments, he has served as a “partisan cheerleader,” said Doug Kendall, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center in Washington, which supports the administration on health care and immigration.

May 11, 2012

A study by the Constitutional Accountability Center found that the Chamber of Commerce had won 65 percent of its cases heard by the court under Chief Justice John Roberts, compared to 56 percent under former Chief Justice William Rehnquist (1986-2005) and just 43 percent of the cases that came during the Burger court (1969-1986).

May 10, 2012

Judith Schaeffer, vice president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, a progressive think tank said: "With the Supreme Court as starkly divided ideologically as it is today, the stakes this November are quite high. On so many issues of critical importance, the Constitution truly is at a crossroads before the Court under Chief Justice John Roberts. That said, every presidential election is important to the future of the federal judiciary, given the President's constitutional responsibility to nominate Supreme Court Justices and lower court judges.”

May 9, 2012

“I think that generally the Court hasn’t looked at applications of Strickland, which sets forth the ineffective assistance of counsel test, as being new rules,” said Elizabeth B. Wydra, chief counsel for the Washington-based Constitutional Accountability Center, who wrote an amicus brief urging the Court to take up the case and rule in favor of retroactivity. “They are [seen as] applications of the existing ineffective assistance of counsel standard. So I think here, especially if you look at how the majority opinion in Padilla is written, which seems to assume the position will be retroactive, that is strong indication that Padilla did not announce a new rule, but instead was simply applying Strickland in a new context.”

May 6, 2012

Another friend-of-the-court brief filed in support of the defendant in the new case points out that the rights involved have a deep history. The brief by the Constitutional Accountability Center, based in Washington, cites the "landmark English Treason Act of 1696, which first affirmed a right of counsel, explicitly spoke of [c]ounsel learned in the law."

May 4, 2012

There are 79 judicial vacancies in the federal courts and there have been more than 80 for almost three years—a vacancy rate of almost 10 percent for the federal judiciary, according to the Constitutional Accountability Center. That compares to 59 judicial vacancies at this point in Bill Clinton’s first term and 48 at this point in George Bush’s first term. In 37 cases, the courts have declared emergencies because of the length of vacancy and backlog of cases.

May 4, 2012

As a result of the deal Reid forced the minority to strike, judicial vacancies have now dipped below 80 for the first time in over 1,000 days. This number is still unacceptable, however, compared to past presidencies.