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Judicial Nominees for the Second and Fourth Circuits:  Ashby Jones reports on Wall Street Journal Blog that President Obama has announced two nominations for vacancies on Second and Fourth Circuit Courts.  This morning, President Obama announced he would nominate Maryland federal judge Andre Davis to the Fourth Circuit, and Gerard Lynch to fill the lone vacancy on the New York-based Second Circuit.  In 2000, Lynch was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by then-President Clinton.  If affirmed, Judge Davis would be the sixth Democratic-appointed judge on the Fourth Circuit, and Judge Lynch would be the seventh Democratic-appointed judge on the Second Circuit.  David Ingram posted the news release on Blog of the Legal Times. 

"Bazed and Confused"  A New SSRN Article:  Thanks to Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy for pointing us to the article "Bazed and Confused: Lethal Injection, the Eighth Amendment and Plurality Opinions," discussing Baze v. Rees and the Marks rule.  The article, written by Justin Marceau, an Assistant Professor at University of Denver Sturm College of Law, argues that Chief Justice Roberts plurality opinion in Baze "leaves the individual states and lower courts to quarrel over the weight and precedential value to be accorded to the case's seven separate opinions."  Marceau argues that "the Court's jurisprudence regarding plurality opinions -- the Marks rule -- is frustratingly indeterminate in its application to any case, and antithetical to the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments in the context of capital cases."

Federal Judges Cannot Limit Governor's Clemency Power:  Hattip to Howard Bashman at How Appealing for the link to the Seventh Circuit's opinion in Bowens v. Quinn, which held that federal courts cannot set timetables for action on clemency petitions by state governors.  The decision, written by Judge Richard Posner, rejected the plaintiffs' argument that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment entitled each to have his clemency petition acted on by then-Governor Blagojevich within a reasonable time.  In rejecting this argument Posner wrote, "Federal courts have run prisons, school systems, police and fire departments, and other state and local agencies found to have engaged in unconstitutional conduct. But for a federal court to run a governor's pardon system would be a step too far."  It's surprising this case made it all the way to the Seventh Circuit, for as Judge Posner wrote, "plaintiffs have no good constitutional claim."  

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