Thursday, November 10, 2011

Deciding on deciding

(Taking context-optional note of thought-provoking quotes)

Mr. Lewin said that that option existed, though only for people born in Jerusalem before 1948.
'Well,' Justice Kagan said, 'you have to be very old to say Palestine.'
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was born in 1933, jumped in. 'Not all that old,' she said, and the courtroom responded with laughter.

-- The New York Times' Adam Liptak, recounting a light-hearted exchange between U.S. Supreme Court, Justices Elena Kagan (below, right) born in 1960, and her senior colleague, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (below, center). The comments occurred during Monday's oral argument in a case on which we posted when it was granted: Zivotofsky v. Clinton, which asks if federal courts have jurisdiction to decide whether to enforce a statute ordering the Secretary of State to record a birth in "Jerusalem, Israel," if the parents so request -- that is, whether the Court must dodge the issue altogether on political question grounds.
Liptak's article indicates that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seems likely to win in any event. Still, Justice Sonia Sotomayor (below, left) voiced a duty not to dodge the ultimate issue, stating:

'If we call this a political question and don’t address the merits, the outcome is that the president is saying that he’s entitled to ignore the Congress, I don’t know what kind of message that sends, but it’s a little unsettling that a court charged with enforcing the laws passed by Congress are basically saying we are not going to determine whether this law is constitutional or unconstitutional.'

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