ACLU

Judge Jeffrey Sutton

Over the weekend, Mark Oppenheimer wrote an interesting New York Times piece about the Sixth Circuit’s recent ruling in Ward v. Polite (PDF). In that case, Judge Jeffrey Sutton — noted feeder judge, judicial hottie, and possible SCOTUS nominee in a Republican administration — handed a (partial) victory to Julea Ward, an evangelical Christian who sued various teachers and administrators at Eastern Michigan University, where she had been studying counseling.

Here’s a concise summary of the facts, from the opening to Judge Sutton’s opinion (which is wonderfully clear; he’s great at explaining complex legal issues to large lay audiences; see also his Obamacare opinion):

When the university asked Ward to counsel a gay client, Ward asked her faculty supervisor either to refer the client to another student or to permit her to begin counseling and make a referral if the counseling session turned to relationship issues. The faculty supervisor referred the client. The university commenced a disciplinary hearing into Ward’s referral request and eventually expelled her from the program. Ward sued the university defendants under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Ward claimed that her expulsion violated her free speech and free exercise rights. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the university, but the Sixth Circuit reversed. At the same time, the Sixth Circuit held that Ward wasn’t entitled to summary judgment in her favor either: “At this stage of the case and on this record, neither side deserves to win as a matter of law.” So perhaps we’ll end up with a trial.

Who’s in the right here, Ward or the university? Let’s discuss….

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* First the Jones verdict, then the Fourth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Jose Padilla’s torture lawsuit. It’s enough to make ACLUers develop bipolar disorder. [Washington Post]

* Release the Kagan! The Supreme Court rejected Freedom Watch’s motion for time to argue that Justice Elena Kagan should recuse herself from the Obamacare case. [CNN]

* Biglaw problems: here’s a great round-up of 2012’s law firm lawsuits, starring Akin Gump, Crowell & Moring, Dechert, and Greenberg Traurig, to name a few. [Am Law Daily]

* After dropping a lawsuit challenging their forcible eviction from Zuccotti Park, supporters of Occupy Wall Street will go back to occupying the couches in their parents’ basements. [Bloomberg]

* Not interested in being a lawyer? Check out these suggestions for “unique” career paths (i.e., ones that you could have pursued after college, with half the debt load). [U.S. News]

* Not such a great alternative fee arrangement. A prosecutor turned solo practitioner is going to jail after accepting oxycodone pills as payment from a police informant. [Tampa Bay Times]

I’ve said from the beginning that while the goals of the Occupy Wall Street crowd were not wrong, their tactics have been lacking. The denizens of “Wall Street” (at least not in its geographic form) didn’t cause the collapse of the American economy; they’re just trying to figure out how to profit from it. There’s been an entire legal structure erected to protect the banking industry; wagging your fingers at them isn’t going to do a whole hell of a lot.

And it’s not like “the banks” or whoever can’t fight back. Occupiers might be angry at Wall Street or corporate America or whoever, but it’s “the law” that will be in charge of actually crushing their little movement. The people in Oakland already saw what the police can do. And the police are just the storm troopers of the military-industrial complex. City ordinances, curfews, and unsympathetic judges: these are the people and things that can turn Occupy Wall Street into Alderaan.

But maybe the protesters are starting to understand the true power of the dark side. And maybe they’ll have some new hope if they get some fully trained lawyers on their side (as opposed to non-lawyer volunteers)….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Are Occupiers Finally Learning The Value Of Competent Lawyering?”


Om nom nom.

Ah, the LSAT. For those of you who are still considering the practice of law, this test should be the first indication of the epic toolishness you will encounter when you enter the hallowed halls of a law school. This is usually where the bragging begins, folks. Your “friends” not only studied harder than you did (they didn’t), but they also got better scores than you did (they didn’t).

But worse than all of the bragging is the fact that some — but not all — people will get special accommodations for the LSAT (and law school exams, and the bar exam, and every other exam, ad infinitum). These special little snowflakes will get extra time and other perks to take the same exam that you’re taking.

The question is, who really deserves these special testing accommodations? Boobs or brains?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Boobs v. Brains: Who Wins When It Comes to LSAT Accommodations?”

* Hey, Preet Bharara, even Lady Gaga can read your poker face when you’re going all in on an allegation of Full Tilt Ponzi. Maybe Lederer and Ferguson will finally fold. [Wall Street Journal]

* You know what this country really needs? More doctors who don’t believe in science. Another stem cell research case is going up to the D.C. Circuit. [Bloomberg]

* The last 9/11 wrongful death suit has been settled. Lessons learned: airport screeners might not know what Mace is, but they sure can lift and separate your balls. [New York Times]

* Cooley Law held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new campus. We’re good at surviving natural disasters, but a tsunami of unemployed lawyers might break this profession. [Miami Herald]

* A group of drag queens in Florida got busted for thieving the essentials — bras, boas, and butt pads. As RuPaul would say, you better work. Or steal. You know, whatever. [New York Daily News]

* Guys in my high school middle school used to have the ACLU file lawsuits over breathalyzer tests all the time. It was no big deal. [MSNBC]

When I was a child, my mom’s friend visited the house and brought her newborn baby with her. Without warning, the woman whipped out her boob and began feeding the newborn in front of me and all of God’s creation. I stared for an uncomfortably long ten seconds at the parasitic orgy, then quickly scampered behind the curtains located less than five feet from the feeding frenzy. As I stood behind the curtains, my face beet red with embarrassment, my mother and her friend tried to coax me out, assuring me that everything would be okay. After an unusually long time behind those curtains, I stomped past the horror and made a beeline to the kitchen. I had to conquer my fear. I was also determined to salvage what was left of my 14th birthday party.

Segue.

And so it was that a lady filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that she was fired from her job as a teacher because she had to leave the classroom to suck milk out of her boob.

Moooooo-re after the jump!

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Back in 2009, some teen girls in Indiana had a sleepover that lived up to any teen boy’s fantasy version of one. After racy photos from the summer slumber party made their way to the principal’s office, two of the athletes in attendance were suspended from school sports for the year. That’s, like, totally unfair, said the ACLU, which helped the students sue the school, alleging violation of their First Amendment right to post slutty photos of themselves online.

The girls took photos of themselves “playing” with “phallic-shaped rainbow colored lollipops,” in the court’s words. It sounds like the oh-so-innocent unicorn horn lollipop to me. Though unicorns are usually associated with purity and virginity, these girls took the horn in a different direction, using it in photo shoots that simulated various sexual positions. I’ll leave the descriptions to the court, which wrote one of the racier opinions [pdf] I’ve ever come across (via Professor Eric Goldman’s Technology and Marketing Law Blog)….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Indiana Judge Upholds High School Girls’ Constitutional Right To Post Slutty Photos Online”

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).

BREAKING: DOJ Will No Longer Defend Section 3 of DOMA [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]
Obama Orders End to Defense of Federal Gay Marriage Law [New York Times]
AFER Asks U.S. Court of Appeals to Lift the Stay on Marriage for Gay and Lesbian Couples [American Foundation for Equal Rights]

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…

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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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The ACLU, Suspected Terrorists and American Policy on Killing Them — A Wedding Crashers Screenplay”

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