Anthony Kennedy

Justice Anthony Kennedy

What Earl Warren was to civil rights and what Ruth Bader Ginsburg was to women’s rights, [Anthony] Kennedy is to gay rights.

Michael C. Dorf, a professor at Cornell Law who once served as a clerk to Justice Kennedy, offering high praise to his former employer in light of the jurist’s landmark opinions championing gay rights.

* We bet you never thought you’d be spending Labor Day weekend debating with your relatives the legality of a U.S. military strike on Syria and the intricacies of international law. Gee, thanks President Obama. [CNN]

* Over the long holiday weekend, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg served as officiant at the gay wedding of John Roberts. No, not that John Roberts, but what an incredibly apropos coincidence that was. [Washington Post]

* Speaking of same-sex marriage, even though “[n]o one told [him] it was an easy job when [he] signed on,” Justice Anthony Kennedy revealed himself to be an ally of the gay rights movement. [New York Times]

* Two days after filing an appeal with the Third Circuit, the parents of a deceased Cozen O’Connor partner have ended their battle to deny their daughter’s profit-sharing benefits to her wife. [Law360 (sub. req.)]

* Twitter’s general counsel deactivated his account position with the social media giant, and looks forward to “goofing off.” Congrats to Vijaya Gadde, who will head up the company’s IPO. [Bits / New York Times]

* Biglaw’s latest scapegoat for the culling of the associate herd is the decline of Chapter 11 filings, otherwise known by industry insiders as the “bankruptcy recession.” [New York Law Journal (sub. req.)]

* Without any rabbits left to pull out of hats, it’s been predicted that by 2018, the Magic Circle will be no more. This is one disappearing act lawyers obsessed with prestige hope will never happen. [The Lawyer]

* If you want to learn more about fashion law, check out this interview with Barbara Kolsun, a woman who literally wrote the book on it (affiliate link) while serving as general counsel at Stuart Weitzman. [Corporate Counsel]

* So what has Kenneth Randall been up to since he left the deanship at Alabama School of Law? He’s working to “train law students for jobs that don’t require a bar license” over at InfiLaw. Awesome. [Tuscaloosa News]

* Legal commentators like Elie and Lat would be ecstatic if law school were two years long, but because so many others have a “vested interest in the status quo,” change will come at approximately half past never. [CNBC]

* Ronald H. Coase, influential legend of law and economics and Nobel prize winner, RIP. [Chicago Law]

We’ve talked extensively about the decline in law school applications. Law schools are now entering a time of consequences. Schools at the very top are going to do fine. Shockingly, schools at the very bottom are probably also okay, as there is always somebody who has no business going to law school who still wants to go.

But schools in the great middle — from just outside the top tier to anybody trying to maintain a bare minimum of standards — are feeling the crunch.

Something has to give. And one law school on the West Coast has decided that people should be the first to go. First, the school fired staff. Now, the school is slashing class size. But I’ll note that the school does not seem to be slashing salaries or cutting tuition. Apparently, people are easier to cut than budgets….

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Behold The Nine.

Elie here. In sports, we assess the legacy of athletes after every game. In politics, we assess the legacy of elected officials after every vote or scandal. So why can’t we do the same for Supreme Court justices?

In case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s been a pretty big week over at One First Street. The Court has decided a number of high-profile, controversial cases. Those decisions have come down with strong holdings, blistering dissents, and stinging concurrences. Each justice is aware that the words they’ve published this week could be around for a long time, long after they’re dead, and will be judged by history.

But who has time to wait for history? David Lat and I engage in some instant legacy analysis on what this week has meant for each of the nine justices on the Supreme Court. Let’s break it down in order of seniority, starting with the Chief….

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The front of the Supreme Court building: ‘Equal Justice Under Law.’ (Click to enlarge.)

The Supreme Court was called to order at 10:00 a.m. sharp. The Chief Justice announced, “Justice Kennedy has our first opinion of the day in case number 12-307, United States v. Windsor. Everyone, in the bar members section at least, knew that this was the Defense of Marriage Act case.

That Justice Kennedy was announcing the opinion was significant; he wrote Lawrence v. Texas. Still, no one knew if the Court would reach the merits, since the Solicitor General had announced that the Executive Branch would not defend the constitutionality of DOMA.

Justice Kennedy is an orderly man. He set out the procedural background – Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer were married legally in Canada, then came home to New York. Their same-sex marriage is lawful where it was performed and where they lived. Spyer died and left her estate to Windsor. Windsor sought to claim an estate tax exemption for the death of a spouse. DOMA prevented the IRS from recognizing Spyer as Windsor’s spouse. Windsor paid the tax, then challenged DOMA. She won in the district court and the Second Circuit. Justice Kennedy explained how a bipartisan committee found counsel to defend DOMA, and how DOMA was defended ably in the Supreme Court.

(As an aside, Paul Clement took heat for defending DOMA for Congress. When you think about it, if he hadn’t defended it well, the Supreme Court may not have thought it could reach the issue. Paul Clement may be the unsung hero of the DOMA decision.)

So, Kennedy concluded, the Court could reach the merits of whether DOMA is constitutional.

Though a hopeful sign for those who would cheer the demise of DOMA, the decision wasn’t entirely clear….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Supreme Court Holds That It Is Unconstitutional For The Government To Hate Gay People”

The headline in The Onion, which we noted earlier today, pretty much says it all: “Impatient Nation Demands Supreme Court Just Get To The Gay Stuff.” Today, the last day of the Term, SCOTUS granted our wish, issuing its long-awaited rulings on gay marriage in California and on the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Last night, I attended the New York City Bar Association’s annual reception and cocktail party celebrating LGBT Pride Month. M. Dru Levasseur of Lambda Legal and Lisa Linsky were honored for their work advancing LGBT rights. In her eloquent remarks, Linsky noted that despite all the progress of our community, and regardless of what the Supreme Court rules today, many battles remain to be fought.

How many more battles, and of what intensity? Let’s find out what the Court just decided, on the tenth anniversary of the landmark decision in Lawrence v. Texas….

Please note the multiple UPDATES added below.

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* As we wait for the biggest cases of this term, the question that seems to be on everyone’s minds is: “What would Justice Kennedy do?” We might find out the answer today if we’re lucky. [New Yorker]

* At least we know what Justice Kennedy wouldn’t do. He’d never disrespect his elders like Justice Alito did yesterday after rolling his eyes at Justice Ginsburg while on the bench. [Washington Post]

* Meanwhile, although the Supreme Court punted an important affirmative action ruling yesterday, Jen Gratz’s life has been defined by a more meaningful one made about a decade ago. [Washington Post]

* It’s not what you know, it’s who you know: Covington, the firm where ex-DOJ lawyers go to make money, is representing some very big tech companies in their dealings with the NSA. [Am Law Daily]

* Fox Rothschild picked up a small Denver firm to reach a “critical mass” of attorneys in its new office and offer full service. FYI, “full service” in Colorado means weed law now, you know. [Legal Intelligencer]

* “[G]iven the significant decline in law school applications,” Cincinnati Law is pushing for a 30 percent tuition and fees reduction for out-of-state students. That’s a step in the right direction. [WCPO ABC 9]

* This guy had the chance to go to law school, and I bet he’s really kicking himself now after choosing to be a member of the Boston Red Sox bullpen instead. Poor kid, he could’ve had it all. [MassLive.com]

The front of the Supreme Court building: ‘Equal Justice Under Law.’ (Click to enlarge.)

Justice O’Connor, Justice Stevens, Ted Olson, David Boies, Jeffrey Toobin.

All of them were at the Supreme Court today, eager to hear what the Court had to say. New gay-marriage crusading BFFs Olson and Boies sat together. Also in attendance were lots of other fancy folks — like Solicitor General Don Verrilli and Nina Totenberg — who are there more often.

There’s nothing like late June at One First Street.

At the start of the day, 11 cases remained to be decided, four of them blockbusters. The issues on deck: the Defense of Marriage Act, Prop 8, the Voting Rights Act, and the University of Texas’s use of a form of affirmative action. Today, one of the big cases was resolved; with five others coming out, there are only six remaining.

Today, the Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy, addressed the University of Texas’s use of affirmative action. As the Chief Justice announced that Justice Kennedy had the opinion and would start reading it, a rush swept through the courtroom. People leaned forward. Papers rustled….

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Finally. The Supreme Court has issued its long-awaited ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas, the closely watched affirmative action case.

And the result might surprise you. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the Court, which should shock no one. But here’s a surprise: the vote breakdown was 7-1 (with Justice Kagan recused).

How did Justice Kennedy garner seven votes for a ruling on one of the most controversial issues of our time?

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Hint: the smallest justice may have the biggest net worth.

If you said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, that wouldn’t be a bad guess. She has earned millions of dollars in royalties from her bestselling book, My Beloved World (affiliate link). Her days of dental debts are behind her.

But she’s still far from the richest member of the Court. That honor would appear to belong to another woman, whose stature might be small but whose net worth is gigantic….

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