Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Weds 5/24 - Withdrawn Federal Judge Nominee, Chief Justice Roberts Assures us he is Ethical, Simplifying Automatic Tax Extensions and Affirmative Action Targeted by SCOTUS

Weds 5/24 - Withdrawn Federal Judge Nominee, Chief Justice Roberts Assures us he is Ethical, Simplifying Automatic Tax Extensions and Affirmative Action Targeted by SCOTUS

We have a withdrawn nomination for the federal bench, CJ Roberts says he’s ethical, a bill to simplify automatic tax filing extensions, and affirmative action in the SCOTUS crosshairs.

We have an interesting “this day in legal history” for today – its Benjamin Cardozo’s birthday. If he were alive today he’d be 153 years old and thus very dead. Who is he? Well…

Benjamin Cardozo, born on May 24, 1870, in New York City, was an influential associate justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1932 to 1938. He was known for his creative approach to common-law judging and legal essay writing, which played a significant role in modernizing legal principles and promoting greater involvement with public policy in American appellate judging. 

While generally considered a liberal, Cardozo's focus was more on the nature of the judicial process than ideology. His most notable contributions were made during his time on the New York Court of Appeals, where he served from 1914 to 1932, including as chief judge from 1926. Cardozo came from a distinguished Sephardic Jewish family and had a stellar personal reputation. 

As a lawyer, he achieved great success in the courtroom despite his reserved demeanor. Cardozo's decisions in landmark cases such as MacPherson v. Buick Motor Company (1916) and Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. (1928) reshaped legal concepts in the United States. In 1932, he was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Herbert Hoover. During the New Deal era, Cardozo generally aligned with liberal justices and wrote significant opinions, including the majority opinion in Helvering v. Davis (1937), upholding the Social Security program. His ruling in Palko v. Connecticut (1937) introduced a test for incorporating provisions of the Bill of Rights into state law, which remained in use until 1969. 

Cardozo's jurisprudential work, particularly his book "The Nature of the Judicial Process" (1921), and his involvement with the American Law Institute further solidify his lasting impact on American law. Benjamin Cardozo's contributions as a jurist continue to shape legal thinking and practice to this day.

Jabari Wamble, a federal prosecutor and nominee for a federal trial court judge in the District of Kansas, has requested the White House to withdraw his nomination. In a letter to President Joe Biden, Wamble cited his decision to continue his work at the United States Attorney's Office in the District of Kansas. Initially nominated for a seat on the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit last year, Wamble did not receive a hearing or a rating from the American Bar Association (ABA), which is customary for federal judicial nominees. Subsequently, Biden nominated him for the trial court judgeship in February, but his confirmation process once again stalled without a hearing. The ABA has not yet rated Wamble's qualifications for the district court position. It was anticipated that he would receive a "not qualified" rating from the ABA. This withdrawal follows another recent withdrawal by Michael Delaney, who asked to withdraw his nomination for a judge on the First Circuit due to bipartisan concerns surrounding his prior representation in a sex assault litigation case.

US District Court Nominee Wamble Withdraws from Consideration (1)

Chief Justice John Roberts has expressed his commitment to upholding the highest standards of conduct in the Supreme Court. Speaking at an awards ceremony hosted by the American Law Institute, Roberts assured the public and Congress of his dedication to maintaining the court's integrity. He acknowledged the ongoing scrutiny faced by some justices and emphasized the court's efforts to explore practical measures to ensure ethical standards. 

Roberts's comments come as Congress investigates the conduct of Justice Clarence Thomas and considers legislation for a code of conduct for the high court. The court has recently faced ethical controversies, including questions surrounding vacations and benefits received by Thomas from a Republican donor and his involvement in cases related to the January 6 Capitol attack. Calls for a binding code of conduct for the Supreme Court have been amplified by these controversies. Despite the challenges, Roberts has remained mostly silent, declining to testify on ethics reform and attaching a statement signed by all nine justices that reiterates the court's existing ethics practices. 

Roberts also mentioned the difficulties faced by the court, such as protests outside the homes of justices and the need for round-the-clock marshal protection. The Supreme Court has undergone significant changes with the appointment of three conservative justices under former President Donald Trump, leading to key decisions on abortion rights, gun regulations, religious rights, and federal regulatory power. Roberts, who has occasionally sought to slow down the pace of change, voiced his unsuccessful dissent in last year's abortion case. The court is nearing the end of its current term, with pending decisions on various important issues. Liberal Justice Elena Kagan presented an award to Roberts, highlighting their disagreements but also acknowledging his judicial craftsmanship. So, uh, are your concerns allayed? 

Chief Justice Roberts Says He’s Committed to Highest Standards

Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Mike Carey (R-Ohio) have introduced the Simplify Automatic Filing Extensions Act, a bipartisan proposal aimed at helping taxpayers qualify for extensions on their federal tax returns. The bill seeks to change the rules regarding tax return deadlines, allowing taxpayers to make a payment of 125% of their prior year's tax liability to qualify for a six-month extension. Currently, taxpayers requesting an extension must estimate and make a payment based on their current year's tax liability. The lawmakers argue that simplifying the process will reduce stress, improve taxpayer compliance, and allow the government to continue providing essential services. The proposal has garnered support from the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

Bipartisan House Pair Introduces New Tax Return Extension Bill

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling by the end of June on whether colleges and universities can continue to consider race in their admissions decisions, known as affirmative action. Affirmative action refers to policies aimed at increasing the representation of minority students, such as Black and Hispanic individuals, on campuses. Many selective schools take race into consideration as part of a holistic review process that considers various factors. 

The litigation before the Supreme Court involves two cases brought by Students for Fair Admissions, challenging the admissions policies of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. The court's conservative majority has expressed skepticism about the role of race in admissions, leading legal analysts to anticipate a ruling against the schools. 

If the court were to ban affirmative action, colleges and universities would need to find alternative ways to promote diversity in their student populations, as eliminating race-conscious admissions could result in fewer minority students on campuses. The possible outcomes include maintaining the current system, eliminating affirmative action entirely, or establishing more stringent limits on the practice.

Explainer: What happens if the Supreme Court bans affirmative action? | Reuters

U.S. Supreme Court conservatives lean against race-conscious student admissions | Reuters

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at