Barack Obama

oath.jpgThe second time was a charm. Constitutional crisis averted.

Okay, it was hardly a “constitutional crisis.” But it was probably wise to take a mulligan on the oath, to avoid crackpot claims of illegitimacy. In the words of law professor Jonathan Turley, who recommended retaking the oath:

He should probably go ahead and take the oath again. If he doesn’t, there are going to be people who for the next four years are going to argue that he didn’t meet the constitutional standard. I don’t think it’s necessary, and it’s not a constitutional crisis. This is the chief justice’s version of a wardrobe malfunction.

Turley seems to place blame for the screw-up on Chief Justice Roberts, as does CNN (see their headline below). Based on the results of yesterday’s reader poll, ATL readers concur.

Obama retakes oath of office after Roberts’ mistake [CNN]

Experts say Obama should retake the oath [San Francisco Chronicle]

Reading of the Presidential Oath, Take Two? [WSJ Law Blog]

Earlier: Whoops. How does that Constitution go?

White House small Washington DC Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid.JPGLast night we wrote about some of the top-notch talent that will be filling senior legal positions in the Obama Administration. These are big names, and you probably also read about them in big publications, like the Legal Times or the Wall Street Journal.

ATL is willing to drill down deeper. We now bring you personnel news at more junior levels. If you graduated law school in the past 15 or even 10 years, you might actually know some of these people.

Our prior post focused on two of the most prestigious parts of the Department of Justice: the Solicitor General’s office, and the Office of Legal Counsel. We now turn our attention to two other top offices: the White House Counsel’s office, and the office of the Deputy Attorney General.

Over 300,000 people applied for 3,300 positions in the Obama administration. After going through a ridiculous screening process, these fine folks landed 20 of the most coveted legal jobs in the country.

See if you know any of them, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: The Obama White House Counsel’s Office
(And ODAG picks, too.)”

Department of Justice seal DOJ seal Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgPresident Barack Obama has hit the ground running. Even before President Obama was done flubbing taking the oath of office, the revamped White House website was launched. You can check the WH website, including the new “Briefing Room” blog, for news of notable nominations and appointments.

We’ll also follow personnel news here on Above the Law, at least with respect to leading lawyers (most of them bound for the Department of Justice and the White House Counsel’s office). We’ve covered some notable nominations already. E.g, Eric Holder for attorney general; Elena Kagan for solicitrix general; Cass Sunstein for regulatory czar; and Kathy Ruemmler for PADAG.

A few more names have surfaced since then. Some of them pertain to the Office of Legal Counsel, the most prestigious DOJ component to work for other than the Solicitor General’s office (and arguably more powerful). We once dubbed OLC the Finishing School for the Elect:

If you don’t land a Supreme Court clerkship that immediately follows your feeder judge clerkship, cool your heels at the OLC, then reapply to the Court. Success is practically guaranteed!

Dawn Johnsen Indiana University Bloomington OLC.jpgAs previously reported, with the Senate’s consent, the headmistress of the Finishing School will be Dawn Johnsen (pictured). Professor Johnsen teaches law at Indiana University – Bloomington and served at OLC during the Clinton Administration, as Acting Assistant Attorney General and Deputy Assistant Attorney General, so she is well-prepared for the job. When we spoke at IU almost two years ago, students we met were already speculating that Professor Johnsen — described as a “brilliant” scholar, even if not the clearest or most effective classroom teacher — might someday return to government.

Professor Johnson will be joined by two more academics: Professor David Barron, of Harvard Law School, and Professor Marty Lederman, of Georgetown Law School. To learn more about their appointments, see Politico and Balkinization, respectively. Professor Lederman may be familiar to many of you as an active contributor in the legal blogosphere, having blogged for Balkinization and SCOTUSblog.

neal katyal Above the Law Legal Blog Above the Law David Lat.JPGSince President Obama is a former legal academic, it should come as no surprise that he’s recruiting so many law profs to join the upper echelons of his administration. The marquee names of Kagan, Sunstein, Johnsen, Barron and Lederman will also be joined by one of the brightest young stars of the legal firmament: Georgetown law professor Neal Katyal (pictured), of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld fame. As reported by the Legal Times (via the WSJ Law Blog), wunderkind Katyal has been tapped to serve as Elena Kagan’s right-hand man, principal deputy solicitor general.

For a comprehensive listing of the top legal eagles in the Obama Administration, see this handy round-up over at the BLT. As you can see, these are big, boldface names — gods and goddesses of our profession. Congratulations and good luck to all of them (not that they’ll need it).

We’ll have more hiring news — including items about less celestial beings, more junior lawyers, people you might actually know — in subsequent posts. If you have info to share, please email us. Thanks.

Update: Add Harvard’s Einer Elhauge to the list of legal academics bound for the Obama Administration. Details via Brian Leiter.

Marty Lederman joins the Office of Legal Counsel [Balkinization]

Katyal Tapped as Principal Deputy in SG’s Office [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

DOJ in Flux [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

Georgetown to Lose Lederman and Katyal to OLC, SG’s Office [WSJ Law Blog]

Another Bush critic to OLC [Politico]

More Departures from Academia to the Obama Administration: Lederman from Georgetown, Barron from Harvard [Leiter's Law School Reports]

oath.jpgAs we type this, our fingers are still thawing from standing in the cold on the National Mall during today’s inauguration. The number of people willing to brave the cold was impressive. Every time President Barack Obama appeared on a jumbotron screen, the crowd went crazy with shouts of “O-bam-a” and “Yes, we did.”

The crowd quieted down in order to hear Obama take the oath of office. But what followed was a bit confusing. SCOTUS Chief Justice and now-President Barack Obama appeared to be talking over one another. In the crowd, people started asking, “Who screwed it up?”

MSNBC.com reports that Roberts is to blame:

The Constitution prescribes the text: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

But Chief Justice John Roberts, using no notes, flubbed his lines, and Obama knew it.

First, Obama jumped in before the “do solemnly swear” phrase, which seemed to throw the chief justice off his stride. Roberts rendered the next phrase as “that I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully.”

“That I will execute,” Obama repeated, then paused like a school teacher prompting his student with a slight nod. Roberts took another shot at it: “The off … faithfully the pres … the office of President of the United States.”

Is there a little pro-Obama bias there? We’re not so sure Roberts is totally to blame. As one ATL commenter says:

First Flub: Obama. Roberts proceeds with the swearing in and Obama jumps the gun before Roberts gets done. Second Flub: Roberts.

Watch the video here. What do you think?

Read the transcript from MSNBC.com, and see our take, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Whoops. How does that Constitution go?”

Obama 3.jpg

No country does the “peaceful transfer of power” quite like the U.S.A.

small phone.jpg

* A “court” upheld the government’s authority to tap international phone calls and emails without a warrant. [The Washington Post]

* Would-be Attorney General Eric Holder’s confirmation hearing went well yesterday, and he will go for more today. [The Associated Press]

* Marc Dreier, the lawyer who sold hedge funds phony investments, wants to be released on bail. [Reuters]

* The Senate released the second portion of the bailout fund yesterday, giving Obama a tidy $350 billion to get the economy back on track. [The New York Times]

* In an effort to rally lending, President-elect Obama’s advisors are considering drastic proposals that would take toxic assets of bank balance sheets. [Bloomberg]

funny money.jpg

* The Madoff case will garner lawyers lots of money in fees. “This is a financial 9/11 for our clients” said a Proskauer Rose litigation partner, licking his lips. [Bloomberg.com]

* Meanwhile, the U.S. is challenging the New York Judge’s decision to keep Madoff free on bail. [Bloomberg.com]

* Legislators in Maine are introducing a bill that would recognize same-sex marriage. [The Boston Globe]

* Obama and Biden will visit the Supreme Court this afternoon to meet with the Justices and get a tour. The elephant in the chambers: Obama and Biden voted against Roberts’ confirmation. [The Washington Post]

* Al Franken asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to let him get to the Senate without waiting for the resolution of opponent Norm Coleman’s legal challenge. His lawyers argue that Senator’s will need Franken for comic relief in the midst of our trying times (just kidding). [The Associated Press]

* Dozens of suspected terrorists released from Guantanamo have returned to terrorism says the Pentagon (gulp). [CNN]

ATL 2008 in review.jpgIn Monday’s ATL / Lateral Link survey, we asked you to cast your vote for the 2008 ATL Lawyer of the Year.

More than three thousand ballots were cast, but there can be only one Lawyer of the Year.

Starting at the bottom, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich may not have hit the very lowest point in Chicago political history, but he did manage to get the lowest tally in our vote, with only 96 supporters.

Harvard Law Avenger Phil Telfeyan was a close second-to-last in your esteem, with a mere 110 votes.

funny-pictures-princess-cat-is-finally-being-recognized.jpgJudge Halverson rounded out the bottom three at 167 votes.

That makes THREE! THREE! THREE candidates who did worse than Count Layoffula! HA! HA! HA! (He received a total of 233 votes.)

Listen dude, you really want the Spitzer? Apparently not. The prosecutor-turned-commentator came up only average in our slate of nominees, with 288 votes.

Nervous T-10 1L may not have found a job this year, but he touched the hearts of 428 voters, landing him in the Final Four.

Marc Dreier — if that’s his real name — swindled up 485 ballots, more votes than disgraced governors Eliot Spitzer and Rod Blagojevich combined. Way to rock the scandal vote, sir. You’re the Second Runner-Up for the 2008 ATL Lawyer of the Year.

That leaves us with the final two. Will last year’s runner-up, President-elect Barack Obama, finally be Number That One? Or will The Anonymous Laid-Off Big Firm Attorney finally get something to soothe his pain? (Elie won’t share his pot.)

Find out who will be crowned the 2008 ATL Lawyer of the Year, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Associate Life Survey: Lawyer of the Year”

Obama smoking.JPGToday, the Supreme Court declined to take up the case about whether Barack Obama is constitutionally eligible to serve as President of the United States.

With no public discussion or debate, the Court ignored Donofrio v. Wells — and didn’t bother to explain themselves.

Apparently, the Court takes Justice Thomas about as seriously as the rest of us. According to SCOTUSblog:

In a brief order, the Court, as expected, turned aside a New Jersey voter’s plea for the Court to determine if President-elect Barack Obama was qualified to run for the White House — that is whether he was a “natural born citizen.” The stay application came in the case of Donofrio v. Wells, Secretary of State of New Jersey (08A407). This marked the second time in recent weeks for the Court to turn aside such a challenge; the first came on Nov. 3, in Berg v. Obama (08A391). The Court, in neither instance, gave reasons for turning down the applications. In neither case did the Court seek a reponse, thus indicating it had little interest in either or had found them to be completely without merit.

After the jump, was there a cognizable point to all of this?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “SCOTUS Doesn’t Really Care About Obama’s Citizenship Status”

small joy stick.jpg* Barack Obama has promised to close Guantanamo Bay, but what is going to happen to the most dangerous inmates? Should they be released anyway? What legal basis can the U.S. use to keep them captive? [Bloomberg.com]

* Roman Polanski — the Academy Award-winning director of Rosemary’s Baby, who admitted to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in Jack Nicolson’s house in 1977 — has asked a judge to dismiss his case. Polanski fled to London 30 years ago to avoid a prison sentence and has been a fugitive ever since. [Los Angeles Times]

* The Republican victory in Georgia of Senate incumbent Saxby Chambliss means that the Democrats will not have a flibibuster-proof majority of 60 in the Senate. The Democrats now hold 58 of the 100 senate seats. The Minnesota senate race is still undecided. [The Guardian]

* A Massachusetts couple’s suit over their public school’s response to their five-year old’s complaint of sexual harassment on her school bus has raised some interesting constitutional questions for the U.S. Supreme Court. [New York Times]

* The SCOTUS also sent a murder case back to the Ninth Circuit for reconsideration. The case involved a 16-year-old robber who killed a gas station attendant in a robbery that garnered him $150. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* For love of the law…and video games. A 26-year-old lawyer at Sheppard Mullin manages a 20-person team that deal with mergers, licensing contracts, and other legal transactions that fuel the game industry. Imagine how fun it would be to crash one of their office parties — there is nothing sexier than a lawyer who loves video games. [Los Angeles Times]

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