Corporate Lawyers Sign Letter Warning of Impact of Empty SCOTUS Seat

Press Release : March 18, 2016
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A group of more than 100 corporate attorneys has signed a letter urging Senate Republicans to back down from their refusal to fill the Supreme Court vacancy while President Barack Obama is in office.

The letter was spearheaded by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C., a Washington, D.C.-based legal aid organization founded during the civil rights era.

Here’s a snippet of it:

The impact of a stalemate at the Supreme Court may have a profound effect on our economy, creating uncertainty for the financial industry, major corporate employers, as well as small businesses…

Allowing the Court to proceed for two terms with an open seat would be unprecedented and have damaging collateral consequences that would be felt across our entire federal judicial system. The Court would be unable to act if it were divided in any case without a majority. Such an untoward situation would also negatively impact the business environment and the economy of the country. The corporate legal community and business interests represented herein seek the assurances that come with a fully staffed nine-member Court.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Arent Fox LLP, and Birmingham, Ala.,-based Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP are most heavily represented on the list. The firms themselves aren’t associated with the letter, which is addressed to the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley

Among the signatories are Google Inc. corporate counsel Priya Sanger, Paul Weiss senior partner Martin Flumenbaum and former Clinton administration special counsel Jane C. Sherburne.

Senate Republican leaders say they won’t hold Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings on President Barack Obama’s choice for Supreme Court but instead will wait to see who the next president picks to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Republicans, who say the president has expanded executive and regulatory power too far, say they fear that an Obama-nominated justice would further expand executive reach.

Lawyers’ Committee president and executive director Kristen Clarke told Law Blog that she’s not sure if the letter would change minds in Washington but she’s hoping the “entire Senate pays attention.”

The corporate legal community is “a constituency that has not necessarily spoken out very loudly in this fashion on this issue,” she said. “It’s very important for this group to weigh in.”

As Mr. Obama gets closer to unveiling his pick, other legal constituencies have also spoken out. The National Law Journal has a report on a similar public letter signed by 350 legal scholars.

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