[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] Wednesday in New York Board of Elections v. Torres [Duke Law case backgrounder; merit briefs], 06-766, to consider whether the procedure by which the state of New York currently selects its trial judges violates the First Amendment rights of both candidates and voters. State election officials joined both the Democratic and Republican parties to appeal a Second Circuit decision [PDF text; JURIST report] which found the state practice [NY Election Law s. 6-106, PDF] of selecting trial court judicial candidates through nominations at political conventions rather than through primaries to be unconstitutional. The district court in the case ruled that the system resulted in only friends of political powers having their names placed on the ballots. During arguments, Justices Scalia and Souter each expressed doubt that the practice in fact violated the First Amendment. AP has more.
The Court also heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] in United States v. Santos [LII case backgrounder; merit briefs], 06-1005, in which it considered the definition of proceeds, a previously undefined term, in relation to illegal money laundering schemes under 18 USC 1956 [text]. The Seventh Circuit ruled [PDF text] in favor of the defendants accused of money laundering, finding that the government did not present a compelling reason to interpret the definition of proceeds as "mean net income" rather than gross receipts.