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Appointment of US Supreme Court Justices

23-05-2016

In February 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away, vacating a position on America’s highest court. That quickly focused American political discussion, in the midst of a heated Presidential campaigning season, on his possible replacement. The appointment of Supreme Court Justices is broadly depicted in Article II of the US Constitution as a process in which the President chooses a candidate but the Senate provides its 'advice and consent' on the nominee. The Republican-controlled ...

In February 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away, vacating a position on America’s highest court. That quickly focused American political discussion, in the midst of a heated Presidential campaigning season, on his possible replacement. The appointment of Supreme Court Justices is broadly depicted in Article II of the US Constitution as a process in which the President chooses a candidate but the Senate provides its 'advice and consent' on the nominee. The Republican-controlled Senate argued that President Obama should leave the nomination process to the next US President. Obama, meanwhile, affirmed his intention to fulfil his constitutional duty, and indeed on 16 March he put forward a nominee. The debate reflects an appointment process that is to a certain extent a bargain between the executive and legislative branches, framed by Constitutional norms and political considerations. From a procedural point of view, the process can be divided into two stages, the initial nomination phase, for the executive, and the subsequent confirmation phase, dominated by the legislative. Although the President maintains considerable discretion in choosing a candidate, many issues are taken into consideration before he or she submits the formal nomination. Some factors include the nominee’s professional competence and political affiliation, and the overall balance of the nine-member court in terms of the geographic, socio-ethnic, or religious backgrounds of the justices. Once the nominee is formally submitted to the Senate, the Judiciary Committee vets the nominee and organises public hearings. The Committee scrutinises the nominee's background closely, asking them to provide extensive professional and personal records which may support or cast doubt on his or her ultimate confirmation. After recommendation by the Judiciary Committee, the full Senate debates and ultimately votes on the nominee's confirmation.

US Supreme Court puts Clean Power Plan on hold

26-02-2016

In August 2015, the Obama administration promulgated a landmark regulation known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP), to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fossil-fuelled power plants. Soon after the publication of the CPP in the Federal Register, state and industry petitioners contended that the administration had exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA), violated the historic and legal authority of the states, and imposed unmanageable restructuring of the power sector. In February ...

In August 2015, the Obama administration promulgated a landmark regulation known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP), to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fossil-fuelled power plants. Soon after the publication of the CPP in the Federal Register, state and industry petitioners contended that the administration had exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA), violated the historic and legal authority of the states, and imposed unmanageable restructuring of the power sector. In February 2016, the US Supreme Court – the highest US court with unique authority over constitutional and federal affairs – temporarily suspended President Barack Obama's landmark carbon-emissions regulation for existing stationary sources.

US Congress modifies Visa Waiver Program

04-02-2016

The United States Visa Waiver Program (VWP) has allowed millions of citizens of European and other countries to travel to the US, and to remain there for as long as 90 days without requiring a visa, provided that they meet certain requirements. The recent terrorist attacks in Europe, as well as the presence of Western foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, have reignited debate in Congress over US domestic security. While recognising the importance of the VWP for transatlantic relations, Congress stressed ...

The United States Visa Waiver Program (VWP) has allowed millions of citizens of European and other countries to travel to the US, and to remain there for as long as 90 days without requiring a visa, provided that they meet certain requirements. The recent terrorist attacks in Europe, as well as the presence of Western foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, have reignited debate in Congress over US domestic security. While recognising the importance of the VWP for transatlantic relations, Congress stressed the need to prevent terrorists from exploiting potential vulnerabilities in the programme. This has prompted Congress to modify the VWP to require certain travellers, previously exempt, to apply for a visa in order to enter the US.

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