Monday status conference: Budget and stimulus

February 2, 2009

capdomeThe Supreme Court continues its four-week vacation, as President Barack Obama and congressional lawmakers continue to wrangle not only over the economic stimulus package, but also the federal budget – something that will require careful negotiation and compromise between both parties.

Meanwhile, as you calculate your winnings from the Cards covering the spread last night, here’s a look at the legal news buzz as this week opens:

Split over Crawford: The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision permitting a worker who was fired after answering questions during an internal sex harassment inquiry to pursue a Title VII claim has the defense and plaintiffs’ bars divided over its impact. (Lawyers USA)

Labor rules reversed: President Barack Obama signed several executive orders reversing several Bush administration labor policies. (Lawyers USA)

Presidential/chief justice smackdown? President Barack Obama and Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. agreed on what law school to go to, but the two see eye to eye on little else – and their differences are most pronounced on the issues of affirmative action and Guantanamo Bay. Will this lead to an ongoing beef? Fox News seems to think so. (Fox News)

DOJ extreme makeover: More than any other federal agency, the Justice Department will undergo a diametric shift from former President Bush’s policies to President Obama’s. (NYT)

Rove date pushed back: The House Judiciary Committee has rescheduled a deposition for former senior White House adviser Karl Rove, ordering him to appear Feb. 23 instead of Monday. (AP)


Monday status conference: Busy week on the Hill

January 26, 2009

capitolfrontAs President Barack Obama begins his first full week as president, Congress will be squarely focused on the economy this week, as lawmakers hold confirmation hearings on the president’s pick to head the Treasury Department and consider economic stimulus legislation. And orders and/or opinions could be coming from the Supreme Court this morning.


It’s more easy being green: Today President Obama will announce plans to give states more leeway in imposing automobile emissions standards. The move is a sharp departure from the Bush administration, whose refusal to grant states the ability to impose tighter greenhouse gas emissions led to a lawsuit between the EPA and 13 states. (NYT)

More to Holder holdup: One of the issues holding up the confirmation of attorney general pick Eric Holder? Some lawmakers want to know whether or not he plans to seek criminal probes of former Bush administration officials over CIA tapes depicting harsh interrogation methods used against two al-Qaeda suspects. (WaPo)

Obama’s labor team: Meanwhile, Obama has named his picks to head the federal agencies in charge of enforcing private sector labor laws and enforcing federal employment discrimination laws. (Lawyers USA)

More Supreme nomination Chatter: If a Supreme Court vacancy opens up this summer, who might get the nod? SCOTUSBlog’s Tom Goldstein thinks that newly-named SG pick Elena Kagan is in a good spot, as are two female federal judges. (SCOTUSBlog)

Peanut butter recall grows: The FDA is continuously adding to the list of peanut putter-containing products that may be tainted with salmonella. Meanwhile food producers like Kellogg are pulling more products from the shelves voluntarily. (MarketWatch)

Former NLRB chairman withdraws nomination

May 6, 2008

Robert J. Battista, the former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, has asked President George W. Bush to withdraw his nomination to the board for another term. Batista is joining law firm Littler Mendelson, specializing in management and labor disputes.

Battista and other Republican members of the board came under fire from Congressional Democrats last year over a series of decisions the lawmakers said eroded the rights and protections of union members. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., called the board’s GOP majority “the most anti-worker, anti-labor, anti-union board in its history.”

The terms of three of the board’s members expired at the beginning of the year, leaving the board to take the unusual step of declaring a two-person quorum so that the board could issue decisions with only two members. The Senate had yet to act on the nomination of Battista or the other two nominees – Democrat Dennis P. Walsh and Republican Gerard Morales – since Bush nominated them in late January.

White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said yesterday: “It’s unfortunate that the country has lost another devoted public servant because the Senate failed to act on important nominations in a timely manner.”

Reacting to the withdrawal of Battista’s nomination today, Kennedy said: “Mr. Battista’s tenure on the Board made clear that he was not going to stand up for the nation’s workers.”

“I urge the President to send us a new nominee who will reverse the Board’s anti-worker, anti-union, anti-labor bias,” Kennedy said. “In these difficult economic times, it is more important than ever for employees to have a Board that protects their rights.”

Bush announces NLRB nominees

January 28, 2008

President George W. Bush has submitted his nominees to fill the three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board – and two of them may face a less-than-easy road to confirmation coming off a rocky year for the agency.

After recent term expirations left the Board operating with only two members, on Friday, the president announced his intention to renominate former Board Chairman Robert Batista, a Republican, to return to the agency’s chief post. Bush is also renominating Democrat Dennis P. Walsh to the Board.

The third nominee will be Republican Gerard Morales, a labor, construction and employment partner at Phoenix firm Snell & Wilmer. He is a former adjunct professor at the University of Arizona College of Law and a former NLRB field attorney.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee which recently called NLRB members to testify before congress to explain some of their decisions, wasted no time in giving his opinion of the two Republican nominees.

“It’s unbelievable that President Bush would renominate Mr. Battista to the Board, after he led the most anti-worker, anti-labor, anti-union Board in its history,” Kennedy said in a statement Friday after Bush made the nomination announcement. “America’s hard-working men and women deserve a Board that will uphold their rights, not undermine them. With these nominations, the Administration has again demonstrated its hostility to fairness and justice in the workplace.”