Just kidding, I'm really very sorry to hear that Justice Breyer had fall from his bicycle over the weekend and broke his shoulder. Twice before he has had serious bicycle mishaps and has always climbed back in the saddle. I hope he continues to ride, and wish him a speedy recovery.
Yesterday the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the U.S. government can require NGO's working overseas to fight HIV and AIDS to espouse an anti-prostitution policy as a requirement to receiving funds.
After federal employee Warren Hillman divorced his wife Judy Maretta and married Jaqueline Hillman he never changed the beneficiary on his life insurance. When he died the approximately $125,000. benefit went to his ex-wife.
Maybe, as Justice Breyer asked, "he secretly wants to leave the insurance in the name of his first wife while pretending to the second wife it was just an oversight."
The Supreme Court Justices had a tough time yesterday trying to balance the interests of a child, known as Baby Veronica, with the shameful history of removing American Indian children from their families. The Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA, enacted in 1978, gives tribes a strong role in the adoption of Indian children.
In the case of Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl an unwed mother gave up for adoption her child fathered by a part-Cherokee father. The father had expressed no interest in the upbringing of the child until he was informed of the adoption. After being raised by its adoptive parents for about a year the baby girl was transfered to her father who won custody in federal court under the ICWA.
In considering whether human genes may be patented the Justices of the Supreme Court searched near and far for analogies to help them grasp the complexities of bio-science. Here are a few sketches from the oral arguments along with a few choice quotes.
Justice Sotomayor : "I can bake a chocolate chip cookie using natural ingredients - salt, flour, eggs, butter ... And if I combust those in some new way, I can get a patent on that. But I can't imagine getting a patent on the basic items ..."
Justice Alito : "To get back to your baseball bat example, which at least I can understand better than perhaps some of this biochemistry. I suppose that in ... I don't know how many millions of years trees have been around, but in all of that time possibly someplace a branch has fallen off a tree .... into the ocean and it's been manipulated by the waves, and then something's been washed up on shore, and what do you know, it's a baseball bat."
Justice Breyer : "... so when Captain Ferno goes to the Amazon and discovers fifty new types of plants, saps and medicines .... although that expedition was expensive, although nobody had found it before, he can't get a patent on the thing itself."
And here's a quick sketch of people lining up outside the Supreme Court in the rain Monday morning to get a seat for the arguments.
SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston has the argument recap here.
The above sketch shows members of the Supreme Court bar waiting on the ground floor before being led up to the "great hall" were they will stand in line before being seated to hear oral arguments in U.S. v. Windsor, the second of two same-sex marriage cases heard by the Court this week.
Once again I'm just too beat after a long day to comment, so I'll just post the sketches.