Barack Obama

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. We’ve talked extensively about the outsized power the U.S. New rankings have on higher education. Normally we talk about it in the context of law schools, but they’re just as important in college admissions.

Now, there’s a going to be a new challenger to U.S. News: The President of the United States. And yes, in a battle between USN and POTUS, I think POTUS is the clear underdog.

Today, Obama will unveil various proposals he hopes will drive down the cost of college tuition, a problem that his administration has been shockingly silent on. The centerpiece of his proposal is a new college rankings system that will rate schools on “tuition, graduation rates, debt and earnings of graduates, and the percentage of lower-income students who attend,” according to the New York Times.

Eventually, Obama hopes to tie these Obama Rankings to federal financial aid: schools that perform well will have a larger pool of federal money to dole out to students, while schools that perform poorly will have less money to play with.

Does this sound like a good idea? Would you like to see Obama apply it to law schools?

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Trayvon Martin

How are you fixed for Skittles and Arizona watermelon fruitcocktail (and maybe a bottle of Robitussin, too) in your neighborhood? I am fresh out of ‘purple drank.’ So, I may come by for a visit. In a rainstorm. In the middle of the night. In a hoodie. Don’t get upset or anything if you see me looking in your window… kay?

– John Craft, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Texas, in comments referencing the Trayvon Martin case made on a Facebook page in response to a status update in support of Stand Your Ground laws. Craft separately referred to President Barack Obama as “the Dalibama” in another Facebook comment. John Malcolm Bales, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas, criticized Craft’s comments, but declined to say whether Craft would face disciplinary action for his statements.

* USDA requiring a magician to develop a disaster plan for his rabbit. I don’t think this is such a bad idea — have you ever seen Bullwinkle? [Lowering the Bar]

* The Middle Class is disappearing in the country. Why can’t we get a disaster plan for them like we have for that rabbit? [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* Patton Boggs is rebooting. Just like when a TV show adds a long-lost cousin in season 8, this isn’t a sign of weakness at all. [Politico]

* President Obama, speaking of the Trayvon Martin case, notes: “There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they are shopping at a department store. And that includes me.” See, he was uniquely prepared for the job of being followed by security guys EVERYWHERE. The difference, of course, is he knows these guys aren’t going to shoot him. [NBC Politics]

* A Miami firm is suing LexisNexis for “deceptive” fees. If they’re going to litigate this case, they’d better hope their Westlaw bill is paid in full. [Miami New Times]

* The reporter’s privilege had a bad day. After all that’s been revealed in the last couple months, let’s all agree it’s only newsworthy when the reporter’s privilege has a good day. [PrawfsBlawg]

Another week has come and gone. We’re post Independence Day, so strap in for the long grind to Labor Day before you get any rest. If you need a break, I suppose you can take some summers for a 3-hour lunch, assuming anyone still does that.

But the real importance of the week’s end is that it’s time again to compile my look at some notable stories from the week in legal news. Bring on “5 Thing Friday” or “Working for the Weekend” or something like that.

This week, we had Justice Ginsburg’s declaration that she’s not retiring, the Zimmerman trial continued on its tragically absurd course, Vault released its annual law firm rankings, the NFL got burned in court — twice — and Harry Reid figured out that there’s this thing called a filibuster and the Republicans are really good at it…

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* Ed O’Bannon asks the NCAA to agree in writing not to retaliate against any current athlete that joins his lawsuit against the organization. How sad is it that a non-profit organization committed to helping students needs to be reminded not to retaliate against students? In other news, NCAA Football 14 (affiliate link) came out today. [USA Today]

* More SCOTUS Term analysis. Tom Goldstein, Adam Liptak, and Jess Bravin have been invited to explain to the Heritage Foundation what an awesome term it had. [Heritage]

* The Shelby County decision completely lacks any foundation for the argument that the Voting Rights Act violates the Constitution. Yeah, but besides that… [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* What is wrong with soccer fans? Referee stabs player and then ends up like Ned Stark. [Legal Juice]

* Mayer Brown reports that Mexican leaders are lining up behind energy sector reform. [Breaking Energy]

* Ever wonder about the extent of Internet censorship around the world? Here’s a handy chart showing how Google is censored in various countries around the world. [io9]

* Obama caves to Republican requests to suspend law. Republicans label Obama tyrannical for suspending that law. Bravo. [Wall Street Journal]

Justice rests.

* No, silly, Ruth Bader Ginsburg isn’t “too old” to be a Supreme Court justice. So what if she uses the SOTU address as her personal naptime? She’s brilliant, and everyone loves her. [Los Angeles Times]

* “Justice delayed due to overworked judges can … mean justice denied,” and Obama’s got a lot of work ahead of him due to a “uniquely high” amount of judicial vacancies on his watch. [National Law Journal]

* After the SCOTUS ruling on the Voting Rights Act, Southern states have rushed to push out voter ID laws. But isn’t that discriminatory? “Not true, not true,” as Justice Alito would say. [New York Times]

* It turns out the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s redefinition of the word “relevant” is what has allowed the NSA to collect anything and everything. Say au revoir to privacy! [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Layoffs: they aren’t just for Biglaw firms anymore! McGeorge Law School is downsizing its staff and student ranks due to an “unprecedented drop” in applications. Another one bites the dust; which law school will be next? [Sacramento Bee]

* Client 9, aka Eliot Spitzer, announced his candidacy for NYC comptroller. He’ll run against Kristen Davis, the woman who once set him up with escorts. That’ll be an awkward debate. [New York Times]

* As the prosecution rests its case and the defense’s acquittal motion is denied, a nation is left wondering whose voice it was on that 911 recording — Trayvon Martin’s or George Zimmerman’s? [CNN]

Caution: May lead to malpractice suits.

* Just like he said in 2008, President Barack Obama says that he’s going to close Guantanamo Bay, and this time, he means it. No, really, he appointed a Skadden partner to handle it, so we know he means business now. [Blog of Legal Times]

* The Supreme Court just invalidated Arizona’s proof-of-citizenship voter registration law, so of course Ted Cruz wants to add an amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill to require citizenship to vote because, well… duh. [Politico]

* According to a Pew Research survey, a majority of Americans think Edward Snowden should be prosecuted for his NSA leaks. It’s also likely that same majority don’t even know what Edward Snowden leaked. [USA Today]

* It looks like Jon Leibowitz, the FTC’s ex-chairman, got some great birthday presents this week. Davis Polk partnership and a SCOTUS victory aren’t too shabby. [DealBook / New York Times]

* They don’t give a damn ’bout their bad reputation: malpractice claims filed against attorneys and firms were up in 2012, and some say mergers and laterals are to blame. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* If you’re worried about your low GPA when applying to law school, you haven’t been reading the news. You’ll get in everywhere you apply. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* ¡Ay dios mío! The Hispanic National Bar Association is hoping that a week spent in law school will inspire minority high school students to become lawyers in the distant future. [National Law Journal]

A gal from the Garden State.

* Meow! An ethics complaint has been filed against Judge Edith Jones, the judicial diva herself, over insensitive comments about race and the death penalty that she made at Penn Law. [San Antonio Express-News]

* In the pissing contest over judicial confirmations, it’s fair to say that Obama’s recent nominees to the D.C. Circuit won’t receive a hearing, much less be confirmed, any time soon. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Nobody likes patent trolls, not even the president. Obama went on the offensive yesterday, promising to curb unwarranted intellectual property litigation filed by pesky profiteers. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Speaking of patents, there’s a new exchange being formed for public trading rights. Please welcome the Intellectual Property Exchange International, the first exchange platform of its kind. IP: so hot right now. [DealBook / New York Times]

* After a review of evidence that Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes was whacked out of his mind at the time of the shooting, he was allowed to enter an insanity plea. [Bloomberg]

* The judge in the Oscar Pistorius case has adjourned the track star’s legal proceedings until August on account of a “trial by media.” We’ll probably continue to speculate about it until then. [New York Times]

* A woman is suing because she got her ass kicked by a gang of hookers at a Florida hotel. She claims the prostitutes thought she was infringing on their territory. Nope — she’s just a Jersey girl. [Fox News]

Forget horse heads — this is what you wake up to if you try to unionize at Burger King.

* Burger King sells burgers by celebrating that they are built with fictional union labor while actively interfering with workers forming real unions. This would be too much hypocrisy for some, but Burger King gets to have it its way. [Buzzfeed]

* I cannot top the subject line from the tipster: “Obama calls the nation to arms on trade secret theft, but the nation is at the mall.” [Orrick]

* A review of Logan Beirne’s new book Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency (affiliate link). I wonder what George Washington would say if the Senate blocked his judicial nominees? [Washington Times]

* Step One: Collect cash from government for doing business in downtown Manhattan. Step Two: “Close” the firm and move all the partners and cases to Blank Rome. Step Three: Refuse to pay back the money. [Thompson Reuters News & Insight]

* Why does everyone want to go to law school? I figured it was just to compete in the ATL Law Revue competition. [The League of Ordinary Gentlemen]

* Be nicer to the sea cows! [Lowering the Bar]

* This Craigslist job posting under “Legal/Paralegal Jobs” in San Diego: Accidental listing or sadly prophetic commentary on the legal job market? Just in case someone removes the listing, I’ll post a screenshot after the jump…

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The appellate court facing the most complex workload in the country is also tiny and overworked. Only the First Circuit has fewer active slots, and with three vacancies, the D.C. Circuit has fewer judges than its sibling courts with 11 active judges.

So it should come as no surprise that some senators are actively trying to shrink the D.C. Circuit.

The crux of their beef is that actually filling the three vacancies on the court would constitute court packing, because no one on the Hill has bothered to pick up an AP U.S. History textbook and figure out what “court packing” means.

But when you strip away the partisan stupidity and actually look at the numbers, there’s a really good argument in favor of “court packing” because this Circuit could use an extra judge or two…

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