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Turning 90, and Considering Retirement:  At SCOTUSblog Lyle Denniston reports that on April 20th, Justice Stevens will celebrate his 90th birthday, and become the second oldest Justice ever to have served on the Court.  According to Denniston, April may also be the month that Justice Stevens announces his retirement.  Whether he will or not remains up in the air.  Denniston reports that in a March 8th interview with Jeffery Toobin, Justice Stevens stated that he would make up his mind in about a month.  Denniston believes that if Justice Stevens does desire to retire, he will announce his decision after the Court has completed hearing oral arguments on April 28th.  Justice Stevens may still decided to stay another year.  He reportedly told Toobin, "...I still have my options open...When I decided to just hire one clerk, three of my four clerks last year said they'd work for me next year if I wanted them to.  So I have my options still.  And then I'll have to decide soon."  Denniston also has this post on SCOTUSblog, with more details on Justice Stevens' interview with Toobin.

A History of Presidential Pardon Power:  Sentencing Law and Policy's Doug Berman links to an article by former-U. S. Pardon Attorney Margaret Colgate Love, describing the decline of the pardon power and its hopeful revival.  In her piece, The Twilight of the Pardon Power, Colgate Love examines the pardoning practices in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and discusses how it changed in 1930 to become a tool for restoring the rights of citizenship.  She then examines the reasons for its decline and eventual collapse during the Clinton Administration.  She closes by arguing that President Obama should revive the power, and offers suggestions for how he might do so.

The Department of Justice Defaults to "Openness" :   At Blog of Legal Times, Mike Scarcella reports that today, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. stated that the Department of Justice has increased the rate of disclosure, and reversed what he called a "disturbing" trend.  The Attorney General stated the department remains committed to the principle that "we make openness the default, not the exception" when it comes to public interest in government records.  At each of the Federal departments, Chief FOIA officers are supposed to submit a finalized report today to the DOJ Office of Information Policy.  DOJ officials said the public will have access to the reports via a DOJ website.  Tony Mauro reports on other D.C. events that will commemorate Sunshine Week, a week aimed at spotlighting and promoting government openness.

The Political Ambitions of a Judge's Wife: 
Yesterday, on Volokh Conspiracy, Eugene Volokh commented on the "prominent political role[s]" of Virginia Thomas and Ramona Ripston, the wives of Supreme Court Justice Thomas and Ninth Circuit Judge Reinhardt, respectively.  According to Volokh, Virginia Thomas just founded Liberty Central Inc., a conservative activist group, and Ramona Ripston just stepped down from being head of the Southern California ACLU.  Volokh's comments are a response to "particularly pernicious or dangerous:  Judges have plenty of political and ideological predispositions that they bring to the job from their earlier lives, and of course they have judicial philosophies that often make them in sync with particular political groups."

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I would add only one small correction, that being that Margaret Love is no longer the Pardon Attorney at DOJ, having left that position in 1997.

Margaret is a former colleague of mine. We met again after our DOJ careers when I wrote a Washington Post op-ed, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/06/AR2007060602292.html, suggesting that Scooter Libby's sentence be partially commuted. She and I debated the subject on Judy Woodruff's NPR show, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/white_house/july-dec07/libby_07-03.html.

Margaret now enjoys a successful private practice in criminal defense, sentencing and clemency matters.

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