Free speech as a rap song? Supreme Court: “Nah.” The high court declined to review a free speech case brought before it by attorneys for a Mississippi high school student suspended over a controversial rap. The student, Taylor Bell, recorded the song “at a professional studio” during the winter break and shared it on Facebook in February 2011. In the song – which we here at the Hip Hop Caucus would love to hear – he accused two coaches of allegedly behaving inappropriately towards female students. Bell sued when Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, suspended him for seven days. Lower courts upheld the suspension, “saying it made no difference where Bell made and distributed the song.” AP/CBS News 

President Obama appointed several key staffers to oversee Supreme Court nomination. Politico reports the president’s senior adviser Brian Deese will spearhead the task and point to “outside speculation” that the pick may be announced as “early as this week.” No official word has come down from the White House. Deese’s team will also include Obama’s counsel Neil Eggleston. The staffers’ job scope includes the “search, review, research, and vetting of candidates.” They will report to Obama’s chief of staff Denis McDonough. Hip Hop Caucus is glad to learn that, per Politico, Deese’s office previously oversaw “environmental regulations and international negotiations leading to the Paris climate deal that’s so much defined his second term.” The White House has also reached out to outside advisers, “led by Stephanie Cutter, a former deputy senior adviser in the White House and deputy campaign manager for Obama.” Politico

“One-third of all U.S. presidents appointed a Supreme Court justice in an election year.” In an essay that reads like a Cliff’s Notes on the history of Supreme Court nominations, former Supreme Court fellow Barbara A. Perry writes that the founding fathers extensively debated about the very process before Obama now. Perry, currently serving as Miller Professor of Ethics and Institutions and director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, noted that George Washington “added an associate justice and a chief justice during the election year of 1796.” Washington Post

 Justice Clarence Thomas Speaks! Did you know what Supreme Court’s only Black member, Clarence Thomas, hasn’t asked a question of attorneys for either the plaintiffs nor defendants in his courtroom – since Feb. 22, 2006? Thomas finally broke his silence – based on his own preference, apparently – by asking U.S. government attorneys to clarify whether the 2d Amendment right to carry a firearm was suspended when a person is convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. In Voisine vs. U.S., which involves two Maine me who entered guilty pleas for DV but are arguing that should not disqualify them from owning guns, is currently before by the high court. NPR

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