Supreme Court


Dan Farber on Legal Planet posts about when an environmental impact statement is necessary for USDA approval of genetically-modified crops, and Friday’s federal court decision revoking the USDA approval of genetically modified sugar beets for violating the National Environmental Policy Act.  The concern is that, absent safeguards and due to cross-pollination, genetically-modified crops will over-run conventional crops, i.e., farmers won’t be able to produce non-GMO crops.  This issue has garnered attention of late with the Supreme Court’s decision in Monsanto v. Geerston Seed, and Vermonters should find this case of interest since both the sugar beet and Monsanto (about Roundup Ready alafalfa) cases included High Mowing Organic Seeds of Wolcott, Vermont as a plaintiff.  Their involvement should be of no surprise given that that area of Vermont has been home to, according an article to author Bill McKibben, “the most interesting agriculture experiment in the country,” where neighbors are eating solely from locally produced foods rather than industrial processed foods.

[Note: In writing this post, I learned of a book I will ask the Vermont Law Library to acquire, The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food by Ben Hewitt.]

Most Americans cannot name a single member of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) (according to a 2006 Findlaw.com survey), and in my experience (and yes, I’ve done pop quizzes) most law students cannot name all 9 members of the SCOTUS, which has actually become more difficult following the consistency of the Rehnquist Court.    So in an effort to help my students and with today’s swearing in of Elena Kagan, the current nine members of the Supreme Court are:

Chief Justice John Roberts, and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

But lists are boring so here are some predictions, some more bold than others:

(1) Justice Ginsburg’s seat will be the next vacancy on the Court.

(2) Scalia’s seat will be the next to open after Ginsburg’s, causing extensive media and public interest.

(3) Identity politics will continue to play a major role in the nomination process (first Asian-American on the Court?)…..

(4) …..But age (or, better stated, youth) will trump and the next nominee will be born in 1955 or later.

(5) We will see 4 woman on the Supreme Court no later than 2017.

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