By Jake Kaplan

Here are some of the legal news stories making headlines this week:

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union address.

  • The first half of the speech focused on the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Biden condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s conduct, calling the invasion “premeditated and totally unprovoked,” and he affirmed United States support of Ukraine. Biden said, “Putin sought to shake the very foundations of the free world, thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways. But he badly miscalculated.” Biden pledged to make Putin “pay a price” for the invasion, starting with banning Russian planes from American airspace. “He has no idea what’s coming,” Biden continued. Many moments during this section of the speech led to a bipartisan standing ovation.  
  • Biden used the rest of the speech to focus on his domestic agenda. He touted the American Rescue Plan (the COVID-19 stimulus package Congress passed last year), called for more police funding, and acknowledged concerns about inflation. When discussing the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden said that “we are moving forward safely, back to more normal routines” because of “the tools that we have been provided by this Congress.”
  • Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds delivered the Republican response to Biden’s speech. In her speech, Reynolds echoed recent Republican criticism of Biden and the Democratic Party, including “runaway inflation” and the alleged rise in crime. In a foreshadowing of  what will likely be a Republican campaign pitch this midterm season, Reynolds stressed the “pro-parent, pro-family revolution that Republicans are leading in Iowa and states across this country.” She said that families are “tired of politicians who tell parents they should sit down, be silent and let government control their kids’ education and future.” “Republicans believe that parents matter,” Reynolds continued.

Biden nominated D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the Supreme Court.

  • If confirmed, Jackson will be the first Black woman to sit on the Court, the first former public defender, and the only current member who previously served on the United States Sentencing Commission. Preet Bharara and Joyce Vance discussed Jackson’s credentials on this week’s episode of CAFE Insider
  • During her time as a federal judge, Jackson issued decisions in multiple high-profile cases. As a circuit court judge, Jackson was a member of a panel that rejected former President Donald Trump’s effort to shield from the January 6th Committee a trove of White House documents. As a district court judge, Jackson ordered former White House counsel Don McGahn to comply with a Congressional subpoena. In her decision, Jackson wrote, “Presidents are not kings. This means that they do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control.”
  • This week, Jackson began meeeting with United States senators. She was accompanied by former Alabama Senator Doug Jones, who is acting as her guide through the confirmation process. Jackson’s first confirmation hearing is scheduled for March 21st.

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