Podcast: The Supreme Court and Politics

In this episode of Lawrence Talks, we brought back Professor Richard Levy of the KU Law School to talk with us more broadly about the politics of the Supreme Court, judicial decision-making, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Our conversation begins with Professor Levy discussing his time as a young judicial clerk for now-retired Appellate Judge Richard Posner.

Episode Notes:

Conversation 1: Professor Levy’s time as a judicial clerk for Appellate Judge Richard Posner. 

Conversation 2: Originalism

Conversation 3: Politics and The Supreme Court

Does Kansas owe businesses for mandating they close? A new lawsuit says yes.

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic overturned society as we know it, shutting down the state’s economy in a virtually unprecedented way.

Business owners have had to grapple with keeping the lights on, scrounging up government aid and taking precautions to keep customers and employees safe.

But can those enterprises demand compensation from a state or local government for having to shut their doors?

Increasingly, businesses across the country are saying yes to that question and filing legal challenges accordingly.

That trend has now reached Kansas.

No COVID-19 shot, no service? A look at the legality of businesses requiring vaccine mandates

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — No shot. No service.

It’s a rule Australian-based airline Qantas Airways announced it will implement with all passengers traveling internationally. The airline’s CEO, Alan Joyce, said the airline will require all international travelers to prove they’ve received their COVID-19 vaccines before boarding their planes.

“We think that is a necessity,” Joyce said in an interview.

KU law professor co-writes Supreme Court amicus brief in Collins v. Mnuchin financial crisis case

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

LAWRENCE — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Dec. 9 in Collins v. Mnuchin, a case arising from the financial crisis of 2008. Alexander Platt, associate professor of law at the University of Kansas, co-wrote an amicus brief for the court and is available to discuss the case with media.

At issue is whether the government will be immune from legal accountability for actions taken under the banner of its emergency crisis-management authority, even for actions taken long after a crisis has faded. Four years after bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the height of the financial crisis, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and U.S. Department of the Treasury changed the rules regarding how the private shareholders of those companies could be compensated when they make a profit, which prompted shareholders to sue, on grounds the changes were beyond the power of the FHFA. Platt, who specializes in the intersection of corporate and administrative law, can discuss the case, what the court’s ruling could mean for agencies and investors, and related topics. He co-wrote the brief with Steven Davidoff Solomon of the University of California-Berkeley and David Zaring of Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The brief was written in support of plaintiff Patrick J. Collins. In it, the authors summarize the times the executive branch and independent agencies have been called upon to respond to economic crises, including in 2008 and 2009. They also illustrate how the Federal Reserve and Treasury are currently acting to help soften the economic blow of the COVID-19 pandemic. In such events, normal means of guaranteeing transparency and accountability are not regularly enforced, increasing chances of abuses of power. The agencies that made changes at the heart of the case represent such an abuse, the authors argue, and the courts should not shy away from.

“While broad discretion for the government to act in a time of crisis without litigious interference might be necessary, that does not mean the executive ought to be immune from any and all forms of legal accountability for unlawful actions forever after — especially those taken long after a crisis has faded,” Platt said. “Sadly, it seems likely that the current virus-driven economic crisis will not be our last. As the court turns this week to consider a case arising out of the last great economic crisis, we hope that it keeps the next one in mind.”

Platt’s work has been published in leading law journals and cited by the Eleventh Circuit Court. He teaches classes in contracts and securities regulation, and he has recently published research on the Securities and Exchange Commission illegally denying hearings to defendants and a “revolving door” between the agency and private law firms.

To schedule an interview, contact Mike Krings at 785-864-8860, mkrings@ku.edu or @MikeKrings.

Floyd Bledsoe shares what life is like 5 years after exoneration; he’s still pushing for accountability for his wrongful murder conviction

Brynlee Alice Jean Bledsoe is still too young to know the significance, but someday she’ll understand that her middle names are in honor of two of the women who helped free her father from prison in 2015.

Brynlee, who will turn 2 next month, and her two big brothers are making the time pass by much more quickly for Floyd Scott Bledsoe than it did as he spent almost 16 years behind bars.

This Tuesday, Dec. 8, will mark five years since Bledsoe, now 43, was released from prison after DNA and other evidence proved he did not murder his 14-year-old sister-in-law in 1999.

In Kansas, kids who face criminal charges aren't getting the defense they need, report says

The National Juvenile Defender Center says Kansas needs a statewide system for training and assigning defense attorneys to work with children.

Most of Wichita attorney Trent Wetta’s clients fall between the ages of 14 and 17, but they can be as young as 10. They typically face misdemeanor charges, such as possession of marijuana or theft, or minor felony charges, like burglary.

It can prove tricky guiding a child through a criminal justice system made by adults with law degrees.

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