- - Monday, December 13, 2010

SUPREME COURT

Kagan: ‘Steep learning curve’ on high court

Supreme CourtJustice Elena Kagan says she is facing a “steep learning curve” in her first months on the bench as she drafts her first opinions and tries to acclimate to life as a judge.

In her first interview since joining the court in August, Justice Kagan told the C-SPAN cable network that she will not have to sit out many more cases because of her previous work for the Obama administration. Justice Kagan has taken herself out of more than two dozen cases so far, but said the numbers are “definitely subsiding.”

She said she reads Supreme Court briefs on a Kindle, in contrast to the iPad used by Justice Antonin Scalia.

C-SPAN provided excerpts of the 48-minute interview on Monday.

INTERIOR DEPARTMENT

Norton: Ethics probe a waste of money

Former Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton said the Obama administration “wasted millions of taxpayer dollars” in a nearly two-year probe of her ties to an oil company where she took a job after leaving her post at Interior.

Mrs. Norton told the Associated Press that the investigation by the Interior Department’s inspector general was “an attempt to find imagined wrongdoing.”

Mrs. Norton, who served as Interior secretary from 2001 to 2006, was accused of using her position to steer lucrative oil leases to Royal Dutch Shell PLC, where she took a job nine months after leaving Interior.

Mary Kendall, the Interior Department’s acting inspector general, said Friday that the investigation failed to prove a conflict of interest. She said the Justice Department has closed a criminal probe in the case.

LAW AND ORDER

‘No refusal’ policy urged for DUIs

The government is urging states and local authorities to use policies that can crack down on suspected drunken drivers who refuse breath tests to avoid prosecution.

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