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Blog Scan

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State of the Union Draws Reaction from a Justice:  As Kent noted earlier today, President Obama's State of the Union address offered up some harsh criticism for the Court's recent decision in Citizens United v. F.E.C.  Linda Greenhouse writes for New York Times' Opinionator, that the President stated the decision would "open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign companies -- to spend without limit in our elections," before adding, "I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests."  Orin Kerr writes at Volokh Conspiracy that while five of the six Justices in attendance sat in silence, "Justice Alito ha[d] the very human reaction of mouthing disagreement..."  For Kerr, the caught on video episode reflects the wisdom of Justice Harlan's view that the Justices shouldn't attend the State of the Union address at all.  Ed Whelan appears to agree on NRO's Bench Memos.  Tony Mauro follows up with news that Senator Leahy (D-Vt.) lashed out at the Court's Citizens United ruling by calling it a "threat to the rule of law."  Mauro reports that Leahy asserted that the Citizens United decision was made possible only by the changed composition of the Court, and not legal reasoning.  Mauro's earlier posts on the President's comments are available here, here and here.

Citizens May Mean "Change" for the Court:  Jan Crawford saw last night's State of the Union address, and started wondering whether President Obama's willingness to "dramatically take on the Court as part of his new-found populist persona" indicates that he "...may go an entirely different direction with his [next Supreme Court] nomination..."  Crawford believes that this could mean that President Obama is more likely to nominate someone like Judge Diane Wood, and not her long predicted favorite, Solicitor General Elana Kagan.   

Second Circuit Upholds Felon Disenfranchisement:
  At Sentencing Law and Policy, Doug Berman posts a link to a Second Circuit panel decision rejecting claims that New York Election Law § 5-106(2) violates felons' constitutional rights under Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Fifteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.  The case, Hayden v. Paterson, addresses claims challenging the validity of New York's constitutional provision that requires the legislature to enact felon disenfranchisement laws, and also challenges New York Election Law § 5-106(2) which disenfranchises convicted felons who are incarcerated or on parole.  The panel found that the plaintiffs failed to state plausible claims of intentional discrimination or violations of the Equal Protection Clause.  The panel then remanded the case to allow the plaintiffs to amend their complaint to better address their intentional discrimination claim.  It will be interesting to see if Hayden will play a role in the possible Supreme Court review of Farrakhan v. Gregoire.

UCLA Sypmosium on Forensic Science: 
Kevin Cole posts on CrimProf Blog that on February 18th, UCLA will be hosting a symposium on the future role of forensic science in the area of criminal justice.  The program promises to examine the effect of last year's National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report criticizing current uses of forensic sciences.  Information on the conference is available here 

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