Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Anna Nicole Smith's Day in Court

(Crossposted from the American Constitution Society :: Columbia Law School)

Anna Nicole, meet Ruth Bader.

Today's the day that Vickie Lynn Marshall (otherwise known as Anna Nicole Smith) has her oral argument heard before the Supreme Court of the United States.

As LII's bulletin on the case notes, the questions presented in the case are:

  1. What is the scope of the probate exception to federal jurisdiction?
  2. Did Congress intend the probate exception to apply where a federal court is not asked to probate a will, administer an estate, or otherwise assume control of property in the custody of a state probate court?
  3. Did Congress intend the probate exception to apply to cases arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States (28 U.S.C. § 1331), including the Bankruptcy Code (28 U.S.C. § 1334), or is it limited to cases in which jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship?
  4. Did Congress intend the probate exception to apply to cases arising out of trusts, or is it limited to cases involving wills?

UPDATE: Ms. Marshall's story really captured the country's imagination on this cold February day. Given the survey below, it's a safe bet that it's the only time this year that many Americans will think a whit about SCOTUS:
According to a December 2005 national survey conducted by FindLaw, only 43% of American adults can name at least one justice who is currently serving on the nation's highest court. 57% of Americans can't name any current U.S. Supreme Court justices.

The percentages of Americans who could name each current justice were as follows:
  • Sandra Day O'Connor — 27%
  • Clarence Thomas — 21%
  • John Roberts — 16%
  • Antonin Scalia — 13%
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg — 12%
  • Anthony Kennedy — 7%
  • David Souter — 5%
  • Stephen Breyer — 3%
  • John Paul Stevens — 3%
Actually, I'm a little impressed that 3% of those surveyed knew of Stevens and Breyer, considering that only .2% of the US population are practicing lawyers.

FINAL UPDATE: I'm no statistician, but it appears that since knowledge of Breyer's and Stevens's presences on the SCOTUS bench falls within the margin of error for the survey, we are forced to accept the distinct possibility that no American is aware of their status as associate justices.

My apologies for any role I might have played in the revelation of this apparent state secret.

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