League of Women Voters speaker to address Supreme Court Justice issues

When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly in February, questions about the makeup and workings of that court came into sharp focus.

John Rappaport, assistant professor of Law at University of Chicago, will address “Our U.S. Supreme Court: Who they are, How they got there, What they do, and Why it matters,” at a forum sponsored by the local League of Women Voters at 7 p.m. April 29. This forum is part of the LWV’s nonpartisan education project and takes place at the Upton Middle School Auditorium, 800 Maiden Lane, in St. Joseph.

A question and answer period will follow his presentation.

Rappaport clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and is currently on the faculty at the University of Chicago Law School. His teaching and research interests include criminal procedure, criminal law, constitutional law, federal jurisdiction and evidence.

Judges of the state court system in Michigan are elected by voters to specified terms. By contrast, judges of the federal courts, including the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, are not elected.

Rather, they are nominated by the President and appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.

Once appointed, they serve “during good behavior” — in effect, until they either die or resign.

In March, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacant position on the Supreme Court. Unless the pending nomination is approved by the current Senate, responsibility for filling that vacancy will rest with the President and Senators holding office next year.

Consequently, the composition, duties, and role of the U.S. Supreme Court remain major issues in this election cycle.

The League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass counties http://www.lwvbcc.org/ is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy. The LWV promotes an informed electorate by providing information at http://www.vote411.org/.

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