On Friday, Clement, U.S. solicitor general from 2004-2008, was among the attorneys listed as counsel of record on the brief filed to challenge California's request that the Supreme Court put off deadlines for lowering the state's prison population. Illustrating the brief with graphic, color photographs of crowded facilities, the prisoners' attorneys assert that California officials "are not merely dragging their feet; they are making the problem worse."
Working with the Berkeley-based Prison Law Office, Clement and the other prisoners' attorneys call California's request for more time "truly extraordinary" and denounce what they call "open defiance of the federal judiciary."
Last week, aided by well-known litigator Carter Phillips, the Brown administration asked the Supreme Court to stay an order that calls for nearly 10,000 state prison inmates to be released or moved to other facilities by Dec. 31. The prisoner-release order stems from a 2011 Supreme Court decision that upheld a three-judge panel's determination that the prison system population needed to be reduced to 137.5 percent of design capacity.
California's request for more time was made to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who gave the prisoners' attorneys until 5 p.m. Friday to respond. Kennedy, in turn, has the option of bringing the entire court in to rule on California's request.
"For decades, thousands of...prisoners have been suffering severe constitutional violations at (California's) hands," the newly filed brief argues. "A stay would extend those substantial injuries even further. Enough is enough."
PHOTO: Former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement. U.S. Department of Justice/MCT