Anthony Kennedy

The Supreme Court handed down a new ruling today, taking a controversial stance in a (literally) sensitive area. The decision should make would-be criminals across the country wince.

In a split decision (is there any other kind these days?), the justices decided that law enforcement is justified in strip-searching anyone, for any offense, before admitting them to jail.

Understandably, a lot of people are butthurt about the 5–4 ruling…

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Carter Phillips

After the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the constitutionality of Obama’s healthcare overhaul last week, we discussed the case with veteran Supreme Court litigator Carter Phillips. Phillips, the managing partner of Sidley Austin‘s Washington, D.C. office, is a renowned Supreme Court litigator. He has argued 75 cases in front of the high court, more than any other attorney in private practice.

Check out our conversation below. He had a lot of insightful comments about the performances of Paul Clement and Donald Verrilli, the mind of Justice Anthony Kennedy, and even a few jokes…

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* Statistically speaking, with its current line up, the Supreme Court is the most conservative that it’s been since the 1930s. This chart makes even Justice Kennedy look conservative. [FiveThirtyEight / New York Times]

* And another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust: earlier this week, Dewey lost an antitrust partner to Arent Fox. That brings the firm’s grand total of partner defections to 38. [Am Law Daily]

* Jerry Sandusky’s trial has been postponed until June to due to “logistical contingencies” — like a motion to dismiss all of his child sex abuse charges. Meh, it’s no big deal. Same verdict, different day. [Bloomberg]

* And on a similar note, Warren Jeffs tried — and failed — to appeal his child sex abuse conviction. Because apparently that’s what happens when you represent yourself in the hopes of overturning a life sentence. [CNN]

* Lindsay Lohan’s supervised probation has ended, and for the time being, her legal woes are over. When will she screw up again? I’m going to give her three months, and that’s being really generous. [Daily Telegraph]

Isn’t it funny that if you refuse to buy food, the government won’t force you to buy any — broccoli or otherwise? But when you show up at the hospital dying of starvation, the government will give you health care even if you haven’t paid for it.

Sorry, I know it’s foolish for me to inject 21st century policy concerns into Scalia’s 18th century hypothetical.

Obamacare supporters are still licking their wounds from getting smacked around by SCOTUS yesterday. I don’t know why anybody is surprised. You’ve got four staunchly conservative justices and one pretty conservative justice that gets called a “swing vote” because the Court has lurched so far to the right since he was appointed, and you’re going in front of them with a massive use of the interstate commerce power. You think they care that past precedents that they don’t agree with say they should uphold the law? You think they want to give Obama a victory any more than Republicans in Congress wanted to support the Republican approach to health care once Obama adopted it? This was always going to be an uphill battle with this Court.

That’s not Don Verrilli’s fault. People need to stop yelling at this man. No, he wasn’t as witty as Paul Clement. Do we really think that whether or not Anthony Kennedy wants us to have health care will turn on Verrilli’s ability to spit out a one-liner? If liberals want to blame somebody, it’s not Don Verrilli; blame the spineless way Congress and the President abandoned single-payer. That’s why we’re here folks. We sent Verrilli into a conservative lion’s den with a liberal piece of meat hanging around his neck, and now we’re criticizing the way he ran around, screaming for his life. That’s not right.

But anyway, that was yesterday and “reading the tea leaves” from oral arguments takes way more time than looking at the political agendas of each of the justices. Let’s move on to today’s arguments. The Court will consider whether the Affordable Care Act can survive if the Court strikes down the individual mandate part, and whether the expansion of Medicaid coverage amounts to government coercion….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Obamacare Goes to Court, Day Three: Republicans Come for Medicaid”

Today was the big day: the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act was argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s always fun when nine unelected people get to decide whether Congress and the president get to do what the American people elected them to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been listening to CSPAN 3 take calls from “real” Americans about the constitutionality of health care, and let me tell you: Americans are incredibly stupid. On both sides. Christ on Phonics, I don’t even know if some of these people are able to read. Nine unelected arbiters looking at this is at least as legitimate as millions of freaking idiots having a clap-off to figure out how to administer health coverage for millions of people.

Did I say nine people will decide this issue? That’s not entirely accurate, is it? Aren’t we really talking about one guy?

They’re replaying the audio from today’s arguments on CSPAN 3. Too bad there’s no video… I want to see the gifts of frankincense and myrrh that Solicitor General Don Verrilli and Paul Clement brought for Justice Anthony Kennedy.

But what’s really interesting today is to see whether all these ideologically conservative judges will actually take a conservative judicial approach and show deference to the legislature.

Not that I’m holding my breath….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Obamacare Goes to Court, Day Two: The Search for Anthony Kennedy’s Soul”

* Two weeks from today, the Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments on the Obamacare case. Everyone thinks Justice Kennedy’s vote will swing the Court, but Chief Justice Roberts isn’t about to let him steal his sunshine. [New York Times]

* Montana’s Chief Judge stands accused of sending a racist email, but he once counseled law students about the dangers of email. It seems like the man can’t follow his own advice… and that’s some major Cebulls**t! [Billings Gazette]

* Gaming post-graduation employment statistics: the Columbia Law School and NYU Law edition. It looks like it might be time to fire up the Strauss/Anziska machine for the top tier of our nation’s law schools. [New York Post]

* Greenberg Traurig and Alston & Bird think people care about their new, multimillion dollar rental agreements in Los Angeles. No one cares. They just want to know where the spring bonuses are. [Los Angeles Times]

* But speaking of Alston & Bird, some Floridians are complaining about the firm’s bill. $475 an hour for four partners and associates? You really need to stop, because you’re getting the deal of the century. [The Ledger]

* James Humphreys — with a P-H! — donated $1M to GW School of Law so more students can receive scholarships. Maybe one of our favorite Wall Street Occupiers will get one? [National Law Journal]

Or, if you prefer, a ruling on marriage equality. We knew this ruling was coming because the Ninth Circuit kindly informed us in advance that its opinion would be issued today: “The Court anticipates filing an opinion tomorrow (Tuesday, February 7) by 10:00 a.m. in Perry v. Brown, case numbers 10-16696 and 11-16577, regarding the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the denial of a motion to vacate the lower court judgement in the case.”

The Ninth Circuit’s practice of providing advance notice of certain opinion filings is very helpful to those who cover the court. It would be nice if other circuit courts followed the Ninth Circuit’s lead. (Yes, I just typed that sentence.)

Now, let’s find out how the three-judge panel ruled in Perry v. Brown (formerly known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger)….

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It's pronounced 'Mystal' like 'Cristal,' not to be confused with Elie's crystal ball.

Welcome back to work. I’m not going to act like a flight attendant and “welcome” you to a place we all got to at the exact same time, but I do hope your 2012 is starting off well.

In case you missed it on New Year’s Eve, we took a look back at our biggest stories of 2011. Now, let’s turn our gaze to the future. What do you think will happen in 2012?

I’ll get us started: The world will not end, nor be impacted in any special way on December 21, 2012….

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Robert Bork

Some lawyers can be so circumspect in speech and so careful in action that they’re just plain boring. Such caution might help you make it to the Supreme Court someday, but it’s not a recipe for a very fun life.

Thankfully, not all brilliant lawyers are afraid of speaking their minds. Take Robert Bork, the former U.S. Solicitor General and D.C. Circuit judge whose Supreme Court nomination famously went down in flames in 1987 — due in part to his loquaciousness during his confirmation hearings.

Judge Bork, now 84, is currently a fellow at the Hudson Institute think tank. He’s not as involved in public life as he once was, but he’s not completely out of the picture. For example, he’s serving as a legal adviser to Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney (a development that some on the left have criticized).

And Judge Bork continues to make controversial pronouncements, most recently in an interview with Newsweek….

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Justice Kennedy says: 'Open Sesame.'

It’s late May, so we’re entering the home stretch of the Supreme Court Term. Over the next few weeks, the Court will be handing down opinions in the most contentious, closely divided cases.

One such opinion came down today: Brown v. Plata (formerly Schwarzenegger v. Plata). In this high-profile case, a three-judge district court issued an order that directed the State of California to reduce its prison population — e.g., by releasing prisoners (as many as 46,000, at the time of the order) — in order to address problems with overcrowding and poor health care for inmates.

When SCOTUS granted cert, I thought that it did so in order to summarily reverse. Federal judges running penal institutions, ordering tens of thousands of convicted criminals to be let out onto the streets? The district court’s order reeked of the kind of Ninth Circuit liberal activism that doesn’t sit well with the Roberts Court. (Note that one of the members of the three-judge panel was the notoriously left-wing Judge Stephen Reinhardt.)

Well, I was wrong. The Court just affirmed, 5-4, in an opinion by (who else?) Justice Anthony Kennedy.

There were two dissents, by Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito. Justice Scalia’s opinion in particular contains some stinging (but ultimately ineffectual) benchslaps….

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