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Indiana attorney set for SCOTUS Wednesday

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A Terre Haute attorney is making his sixth argument before the nation's highest court Wednesday, but his first before the newest justice. This time he's there on a case that could ultimately change campaign-finance disclosure rules nationally.

During an hour-long argument scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. before the United States Supreme Court, lawyer Jim Bopp faces off against the state of Washington Attorney General's Office in the case of John Doe #1, et al. v. Sam Reed, Washington Secretary of State, et al., No. 09-559. The issue is whether the state's public-records disclosure law violates the First Amendment privacy rights of voters who sign petitions to launch a referendum aimed at overturning a law allowing same-sex domestic partnerships.

Arguing for the conservative group Protect Marriage Washington that brought the suit, Bopp is arguing those names should remain private. This case is one of several Bopp is handling nationally on the broader scope of campaign-finance rules, and the outcome could play into how contributors are allowed to donate to election campaigns and get involved in political issues.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California had reversed a decision from the District Court level, which had given the sponsors an injunction against the release of the names.

Bopp said he arrived in Washington, D.C., Monday evening and is participating in a moot court today at the conservative-focused American Center for Law & Justice. Aside from the merits of the case, Bopp said he is looking forward to arguing in front of the current nine justices, including Justice Sonya Sotomayor who was appointed to the bench last year. The last case he argued before the court was the 2007-decided case of Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., 551 U.S. 449 (2007), in which the justices held that issue-specific ads may not be banned in the months preceding a primary or general election.

"I do think it'll be interesting," he said, wondering what difference he'll see without aggressive questioning by Justice David Souter, who strongly supported campaign-finance regulations. "I'm looking to see how the dynamics are different."

Justices are expected to issue a decision by the time the term ends in June.

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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