President Obama has directed the Department of Justice to stop defending Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law prohibiting federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Attorney General Eric Holder’s letter explaining the decision to Speaker of the House John Boehner appears here.
In other marriage-equality-related news, the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) — the organization represented by Ted Olson and Davis Boies inthe Prop 8 litigation — has filed a motion in the Ninth Circuit, asking that court to lift its stay on same-sex marriage in California.
Read more at the links below.
UPDATE: For some reactions to this news, see, e.g., the ACLU (pleased) and Ted Frank (displeased).
Sometimes it’s not the person, it’s the principle. You all remember Andrew Shirvell. He’s the former assistant in the Michigan’s Attorney General’s Office who started a hate blog directed at Chris Armstrong, a Michigan student body president who happens to be gay.
As Shirvell’s actions came to light, he was banned from Michigan’s campus (he had been going there to harass Armstrong). It seemed like the smart thing to do, not just for protection of gays and lesbians at Michigan, but hey, one less tool hanging around campus can’t be a bad thing.
But not according to the Michigan student chapter of the ACLU. The organization is using the Shirvell case to condemn the school’s trespass policy…
Ed. note: This post is by “The Gobbler,” one of the two writers under consideration to join Morning Dockette as a Morning Docket writer. As always, we welcome your thoughts in the comments.
I was asked to cover the lawsuit filed yesterday by the ACLU against the Obama administration regarding its policy of keeping a “kill list” and, to a larger extent, following up on it. Ashby Jones does a workmanlike summary of the basics here, providing links to background, discussion, and the complaint. Rather than rehash the facts, or lead a discussion of the latest embarrassingly naked moment in America’s long history of civil-rights-shrinkage during dips in the wartime pool, I thought I’d get creative. Sorry.
What follows is a screenplay depicting the rocky relationship between Mr. Anwar al-Aulaqi (pictured), the first American citizen added to the CIA’s naughty list; the ACLU, which, on Anwar’s behalf, alleges that the list and any action thereon violates several sections of the Constitution and international law; and the American Government. As the title suggests, it’s based on the plot and dialogue from Wedding Crashers. Christopher Walken will play the role of America, with Keir O’Donnell (a/k/a “Todd”) playing the role of Anwar. The supporting cast, in order of appearance: Vince Vaughn as ACLU, Owen Wilson as Center for Constitutional Rights, Ellen Dow (think “Rapper’s Delight” in The Wedding Singer) as Righty Conservative, Isla Fisher as Treasury, Bradley Cooper as District Court and Rachel McAdams as Court of Appeals.
While in journalism school, one of my “assignments” was to hang out at New York’s night court (open until 1 a.m. every night), observe the proceedings, and then write about them. It was less exciting than Judge Harry had led me to believe, but was an interesting night replete with drug addicts, prostitutes, and a cheap-date-loving couple who had stopped in to observe as free post-Chinatown-dinner entertainment.
It also introduced me to a 2006 New York law that requires felons to submit a genetic sample to the state DNA database. When informed of the law, one defendant arraigned on burglary charges resisted giving up his double helixes. “Are you willing to issue a court order to make me do it, sir?” he asked the judge.
“Is my saying it to you not enough?” the judge replied. The defendant said: “If you sign a court order, I’ll do it.” The judge asked for a piece of paper, and the defendant objected, “No, I want an official court order.”
The assistant district attorney then explained, in an annoyed tone, that any paper written and signed by the judge qualifies as a “court order.” The judge issued the order, but the man returned 15 minutes later, still refusing to give the DNA sample. The judge set bail and again reminded the dude that the DNA sample was required by law.
Many states have criminal genetic databases these days. As noted by the Genomics Law Report, the LAPD’s using theirs to catch the “Grim Sleeper” serial killer has resulted in a lot of mediaattention for these databases, despite the fact that they’ve been around for awhile. That’s because, according to GLR, “the case marks the first time in the United States that a DNA search technique known as familial searching has led to an arrest in a homicide case.” The LAPD nabbed the Grim Sleeper after DNA samples from the murders were found to be genetically similar to those of the Sleeper’s son, who had given up his DNA after a felony weapons charge. (Apparently, criminal genes run in that family.)
The attention being paid to the databases is not all positive, though. The ACLU, which has a problem with the way that California compiles its database, filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Jerry Brown last year. It’s now before the Ninth Circuit. What’s the ACLU’s problem with California’s compiling genetic information for felons and suspected felons?
It’s one of life’s great unanswered questions: Is cheerleading a sport? Soon a federal judge in Connecticut will make a ruling in a Title IX case that may help solve this age-old mystery. From the New Haven Register:
It is unclear whether federal judge Stefan R. Underhill will offer an opinion on whether competitive cheerleading is a viable varsity sport or not. But, Underhill will have to decide whether Quinnipiac University can truly count it as one in his decision in the case of the women’s volleyball team against the school.
The two sides of the lawsuit brought before the U.S. District Court by the American Civil Liberties Union to determine if Quinnipiac violated Title IX parameters debated the merits of competitive cheerleading for much of Tuesday’s session, the second day of testimony.
Says the (male) tipster who sent this along:
I’d love to work on this trial… the exhibits could be great.
One of the cheerleading experts for the volleyball plaintiffs offered a spirited argument against cheerleading as a sport, comparing it to chess.
Please. Could Bobby Fischer do what those women above are doing for the Indians?
As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the lawsuits are coming for Arizona’s new immigration law. First up, the ACLU. Bloomberg reports:
The American Civil Liberties Union is leading a court challenge to Arizona’s new law targeting illegal immigration, claiming the measure would allow unconstitutional racial profiling by police.
A group of civil rights organizations led by the ACLU also alleges that the law interferes with federal power and authority over immigration matters in violation of the U.S. Constitution, according to a complaint filed today in federal court in Phoenix. The group claims in addition that the statute infringes the free-speech rights of day laborers in the state.
It’s not surprising that the ACLU is taking the first shot at this. The Department of Justice might not be far behind….
The administration at the University of Idaho, College of Law, is dealing with a spate of hate inspired incidents. The news coming out from Idaho is all fairly grotesque; federal authorities have been alerted to the potentially dangerous problems on campus.
In an email to all Idaho law students, associate dean Elizabeth Brandt explains that the problems started in August:
I am writing to give you the details of a series of events that have occurred in the law building since last August.
The first incident occurred shortly before school started in August. At that time, students discovered that someone had gouged out the eyes of a student in a photo posted on the ACLU bulletin board next to the elevator on the ground floor near the café. The person whose picture was defaced is an LGBT rights and ACLU activist. At the time, we believed that this might be a prank, but that it also might be malicious. Dean Albertson-Ploucha and I sent an email at the time letting you know that items on the ACLU bulletin board had been defaced, cautioning that such conduct was unprofessional, threatening and potentially illegal, and encouraging support for the diverse law school community.
As we understand it, there is no evidence that the tasteless acts were committed by Idaho law students.
But sadly, whoever is frightening the community didn’t stop in August …
Jeez. Even we are sick of this story — and that’s saying a lot.
But apparently some folks think, despite the endless navel-gazing and handwringing over the (canceled) visit of Dr. Li-ann Thio to NYU Law School, that there is more to be said here.
* Kenya has emerged as the chosen venue to try piracy cases. This article is worth it just for the quotes from the Kenyan piracy lawyer. Just try to imagine how much cooler your life would be if you were a Kenyan Piracy lawyer instead of a Biglaw associate. [The New York Times]
* Florida Judge Thomas Stringer worked for years to establish himself as a trusted, competent man. “then last spring, the well-respected, married judge suddenly found his face splashed beside that of a troubled exotic dancer in a kimono,” including here at ATL, of course. Amazing. [The Associated Press]
* Attorney General Eric Holder dodged alternating attacks on Capitol Hill Thursday, with some Congressman telling him to release more documents on Bush-era torture, and some telling him to stop releasing them. [CNN]
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
We currently have a very exciting and rare type of in-house opening in China at one of the world’s leading internet and social media companies. Our client is looking for an IP Transactional / TMT / Licensing attorney with 2 to 6 years experience. The new hire will be based in Shenzhen or Shanghai. Mandarin is not required (deal documentation will be in English) but is preferred. A solid reason to be in China and a commitment to that market is required of course. This new hire will likely be US qualified (but could also be qualified in UK or other jurisdictions) and with experience and training at a top law firm’s IP transactional / TMT practice and could be currently at a law firm or in-house. Qualified candidates currently Asia based, Europe based or US based will be considered. The new hire’s supervisors in this technology transactions in-house team are very well regarded US trained IP transactional lawyers, with substantial experience at Silicon Valley firms. The culture and atmosphere in this in-house group and the company in general is entrepreneurial, team oriented, and the work is cutting edge, even for a cutting edge industry. The upside of being in an important strategic in-house position in this fast growing and world leading internet company is of the “sky is the limit” variety. Its a very exciting place to be in China for a rising IP transactional lawyer in our opinion, for many reasons beyond the basic info we can share here in this ad / post. This is a special A+ opportunity.
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