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Cal. AG Debate

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Don Thompson of AG reports on a debate in the California Attorney General race. Bear in mind that this is for the Democratic nomination in the 9th most liberal state in country, as measured by Obama percentage vote in 2008:

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris was the only Democrat to say she opposes the death penalty Tuesday as six Democratic candidates for attorney general sought to distinguish themselves during an hourlong debate.

"I'm personally opposed, but I would follow the law," said Harris. She noted that previous attorneys general, including incumbent Jerry Brown, have taken a similar stance.

Former Facebook privacy officer Chris Kelly and four other Democrats seeking to replace Brown said they would work to fix what they say is a broken system, in which it often takes decades to execute condemned inmates.


Candidates put lots of money into polling, focus groups, etc., so the stances they take often give us a good indication of where the people are. All six promising to enforce the death penalty in the Democratic primary in California is a good sign. The only one admitting personal opposition is the one whose record wouldn't allow a denial, which is also a good sign.

"The debate is scheduled to air Sunday on ABC stations."

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I hope where the people are not is in believing candidates who say they will follow the law but have a track record for doing the exact opposite.

Pardon me for the completely off-topic question, but scotusblog doesn't permit comments. Tom Goldstein discusses Kagan's likely recusal responsibilities in terms of "counsel of record" with regard to petitions and invitations and responses, and seems not to consider amicus briefs at all. Would not Kagan have to recuse in cases where the SG filed an amicus brief in support of one party or the other with her name on the brief?

Thanks. I thought so, but I don't see any suggestion of that in Goldstein's analysis; I find it hard to believe he would think she would not have to recuse in all the pending cases with an SG amicus with her name on it.

I don't understand what this means: "when the United States comes in at the merits stage as an amicus – the current trend in the docket – the Solicitor General gets involved very late. Thus, if the Court is composed of 50 merits cases in which the United States is a party and 50 in which it is an amicus, a former Solicitor General will recuse from the party cases vastly more often, because s/he will have previously filed a brief in the party cases at the cert. stage." This seems to suggest an amicus brief by the SG at the merits stage wouldn't require recusal because the SG wasn't involved at the cert. stage. I don't get the distinction.

In any event, we'll certainly see after she's confirmed.

Any merits briefs written this summer for next term won't have SG Kagan's name on them. DSG Katyal is counsel of record. So if the merits brief in a case is the one and only SG brief (as it probably will be if the SG is amicus), she won't have to recuse. For cases briefed on the merits this summer where the U.S. is a party, she was probably on the cert. stage briefing and will have to recuse.

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