Disasters / Emergencies, Federal Government, SCOTUS, Supreme Court

Frankenstorm Closes Everything, Except SCOTUS… And Above The Law

I didn’t mean to interrupt, you were saying something about ‘clean’ coal?

Hurricane Sandy — a.k.a. “Frankenstorm”, because it’s greater than the sum of its parts (and there’s the suggestion that storms like this are growing bigger and stronger because of man messing around with forces he doesn’t fully understand) — is coming. It’s basically a hurricane that’s merging with a Nor’easter that will make it rain, and not in the fun way. The federal government is closed. The New York Stock Exchange is closed. The McDonald’s next to my apartment is closed — Sandy has already cost me a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit.

Don’t worry about me, I’ve got a three-day supply of alcohol and hot pockets. Hopefully you are all similarly prepared for 36 hours of sustained hype wind and rain. Size does matter with Sandy (if “Sandy” sounds a bit mundane, know that the next one will be “Tony”). We might not get a lot of CGI worthy images out of this storm, but the length of this storm could cause a lot of damage.

One thing that is still open: the Supreme Court of the United States. Yes, because the nation might be able to survive without mass transit or the stock exchange, but old men don’t take a day off from sitting in judgment. Reuters reports that the Court prides itself on working when everybody else takes shelter from a storm: “In 1996, when a major snowstorm closed the federal government and brought Washington, D.C., to a near standstill, court arguments went on. Then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a Wisconsin native undeterred by snow and ruled by a strong sense of punctuality, made sure business that January 8 began on schedule.”

UPDATE (12:00 PM): According to SCOTUSblog (based on a press release from the Court), the Court has now cancelled arguments for Tuesday. So, the case of Sandy v. SCOTUS has been decided 9-0 in favor of the people who might have had to put their lives at risk to cover the proceedings.

Let’s look at some of the other things in and around the legal world that are still open along the Eastern seaboard….

Our tipsters have done a great job keeping us updated about what is closed and what is not. If you have more information, send us an email with the subject “Sandy.”

One tipster told us that while most of Virginia is closed, one surprising rite of passage is still happening:

Hurricane about to strike DC/VA. Fed govt closed. VA governor declares state of emergency, implores people to stay off the road. VA courts, govt, and schools closed. VA bar swearing in? STILL ON!

Such a**holes. They know damn well half of us are traveling from DC and will get stranded in Richmond — the worst storm impacts will be in the middle of the day Monday, right when the ceremony is over. Virginia’s exuberant backwardness once again is amazing.

They should put that on a bumper sticker: Virginia — Exuberant Backwardness.

In Biglaw, many of the firms are closed, at least in terms of their brick-and-mortar buildings. There’s no mass transit in most places, so that’s not a huge surprise. Whether or not your firm expects you to remote in and bill hours has more to do with your case load and firm culture.

One tipster was hanging out with some Biglaw friends as they all got emails about today’s office situation:

One friend from Patterson got a nice message saying stay home, stay safe.

[Another friend got an email] from Clifford Chance that was also very nice, they put “BE SAFE” in bold and red text. The whole thing said essentially you could come in, but in no way even prodded people to do so and made it clear they did not expect all office services available.

Most firms and legal institutions are being reasonable. David Lat is compiling a working list of all the closings we’ve heard about. Check back with us to see the list, and don’t forget to keep us posted.

In the meantime, why don’t you curl up under the covers with Above the Law and a grilled cheese sandwich? Until your power goes out…

UPDATE (12:30 PM): Here is our working list of Hurricane Sandy-related closures in the legal world.

Undeterred by storm, U.S. top court sticks to schedule [Reuters]
Court cancels Tuesday sitting [SCOTUSblog]
Tuesday, October 30 [Supreme Court of the United States]

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