Legal elites fared well on election night. For example, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren is now Senatrix-elect Elizabeth Warren, after expertly landing Langdell Hall on top of Scott Brown (“I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little pickup truck too!”). As a Divacrat — I support strong, strident, brilliant (sorry Sarah Palin) women, regardless of their political party — I’m already fantasizing about Clinton/Warren in 2016.
Joining Warren on the Senate floor will be another great legal mind who spent some time in Cambridge, Harvard law grad and former SCOTUS clerk Ted Cruz. The Morgan Lewis partner is one of several current or former Biglaw attorneys who won office on Tuesday. (For more, see Am Law Daily.)
The biggest winner of the evening, of course, is also a legal elite: President Barack Obama. He’s a former law professor, like Warren; an HLS grad, like Cruz; and the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Things don’t get much more elite than that.
And in the legal world, things don’t get much more elite than the United States Supreme Court. This brings us to today’s question: What will a second Obama term mean for the Supreme Court?
There are four justices in their 70s now. Ruth Ginsburg is 79. She’s probably the most likely to leave if Obama is reelected because she’s sympathetic to him politically.
The next two oldest are Justice Scalia and Justice Kennedy who are 76, who probably don’t want to leave if Obama’s president, but they’re starting to get to the age where, you know, you don’t know exactly when your term is up, as they say.
Despite all the recent controversy surrounding U.S. Supreme Court decisions on health care, immigration and other issues, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t name even a single member of the Supreme Court.
[L]aw schools are questioning whether or not they are teaching students the right way, and it seems to me that the bench and the bar can engage in serious discussions with the law schools to advise them whether or not, say for the next 20 years… they have the proper approach for teaching those who will soon be the trustees of the law as active practitioners. That is urgent.
Ted Frank tweeted something brilliant at us this weekend. A law professor and blogger, Kyle Graham, was digging through documents at the Reagan Presidential Library. (Side note: if you’ve never been to a presidential library, go; all the ones I’ve been to are excellent.) Professor Graham came across a great find: the vetting form that O’Melveny & Myers chairman A.B. Culvahouse used to vet Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The document is fascinating. Vetting somebody for a lifetime appointment is serious business, but it’s hard to imagine having your private life invaded to this magnitude.
It’s particularly interesting in light of Chief Justice John Roberts’s vote in the Obamacare case. Lots of people have asked why conservatives seem to have problems nominating justices who will doggedly toe the ideological line. Perhaps some answers can be found in the vetting document?
The individual mandate — er, tax — in the Affordable Care Act has been upheld. The President’s signature initiative survives. The reputation of the Court is untarnished. Chief Justice Roberts’s legacy as a steward of the Court’s institutional reputation is strengthened.
It’s a happy day for the Court, the President, and people who sometimes need health care. The opinion is bad news for Justice Kennedy (if Roberts will swing, who needs Kennedy?) and, I think, the belly dancers who were in front of the Court this morning (their political leanings aren’t as easy to discern as their midriffs).
But, of course, there was other action at the Court today. The Court affirmed a bedrock principle of our democracy — we have a right to lie. Sort of….
Permitting the Government to decree this speech to be a criminal offense would endorse government authority to compile a list of subjects about which false statements are punishable. That governmental power has no clear limiting principle.
* Really, Prometheus was the kind of movie that allows you to think “putting in some lawyers couldn’t have hurt.” [Point of Law]
* Republicans are just better at naming laws than Democrats. I don’t know why that is, but it is. [Recess Appointment]
* Stand your ground laws increase homicides. Tomorrow, the gun lobby will tell us that we need to arm ourselves because of the epidemic of people standing their ground and killing innocent, unarmed Americans who weren’t able to buy a gun. [WSJ Law Blog]
* I almost feel bad for Anthony Kennedy. Every objective indicator proves that he was wrong about what the impact of Citizens United would be, and every month brings a new opportunity to shame Kennedy again. [Election Law Blog]
* Do you take the Metro North home every day? Like Pete Campbell, you might need an apartment in the city. [Dealbreaker]
* Defense rests in Roger Clemens trial. I guess the jurors will have to go back to counting sheep in order to get their rest in. [NPR]
* A judge who meditated would freak me out. Especially if the judge meditated about how you shouldn’t judge people. [Underdog]
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.
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