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Ledbetter and the President-elect: At Wall Street Journal Blog Dan Slater wonders whether Obama will "[l]egislate away the Lilly Ledbetter decision?"  Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. was the 2007 decision, authored by Justice Alito, which held Ledbetter's claim of sex discrimination was time barred for late filing.  The Court ruled she should've filed her claim within 180 days of "the alleged unlawful employment practice" -- the initial decision to pay her less than men performing similar work. Slater notes Obama was the co-sponsor of a bill to overturn the decision, and he referenced the Ledbetter decision in the final presidential debate.  Based on this history, its not too much of a surprise to have the New York Times report yesterday that Obama and Democrats in Congress are planning legislation that would relax the statute of limitations under various civil rights laws, giving people more time to file charges.

Bipartisan Panel to Screen California Federal Court and Prosecutor Candidates: Jonathan Adler at Bench Memos has a quick post on an article by Bob Egelko in today's San Francisco Chronicle that reports Senator Feinstein "has named bipartisan committees to screen candidates in California..."  According to the article, Senator Feinstein and fellow Senator Barbara Boxer will take turns recommending nominees to Barack Obama for U.S. District Court, U.S. attorney and U.S. marshal's positions in California after the president-elect takes office Jan. 20.  President Bush has relied on a similar process to make recomendations for district courts and according to Egelko, the arrangement "has produced some compromise candidates."  In his post, Adler reports that there are four federal district court vacancies in the state and more are anticipated.

Early Parole Due To Rising Prison Costs in Virginia
:  At Sentencing Law and Policy Doug Berman comments on an Op-ed in yesterday's Washington Post where Anthony Barkow discusses Virginia Governor Tim Kaine's proposal to release some prisoners 90 days before the end of their sentences.  Barkow is the executive director of the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at New York University School of Law.  Under Kaine's proposal only nonviolent offenders who have been model inmates will be eligible for early release.  According to Barkow, the proposal is a reaction to the $1 billion+ spent on incarceration each year.  Virginia's Attorney General Bob McDonnell, who is running for governor, has criticized the proposal, but Barkow and Berman believe that Kaine's proposal is "exactly right."  Both men believe that "tough on crime rhetoric" "simply does not work as a method of governance."  Barkow argues that if prison spending continues as it has in the past, other priorities such as schools, and police on the streets could lose funding.  Berman's only complaint with Barkow's op-ed is Barkow's decision to call Governor Kaine "brave" for his decision "to tell the truth about criminal justice expenditures."  For Berman,  leaders should not be considered  "brave" when making "responsible public policy decisions."  Only time will tell how "responsible" early release of Virginia's prisoners will be. 

More on spinning crime stats: Last week we noted the report on homicide statistics by James Alan Fox of Northeastern University and the coverage on it. At Freakonomics, Steven Levitt takes aim at the same report.


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