Ben Wittes

* The Village Voice is stepping away from Backpage due to its ties to sex trafficking. “This so unfair! Everyone loves online prostitution,” said no one ever (okay fine, a lot of people probably say that). [paidContent]

* Cybersecurity, drones, and smackdowns, oh my! [Lawfare]

* Right now, millions of taxpayer dollars fund legal scholarship. Considering how expensive law review articles seem to be, it’d be nice if law professors could techcite their own material before turning it over to law review peons associate staff members for further review. [PrawfsBlawg]

* We actually needed 25 volumes of things you can’t do on a plane? Apparently common sense is a relic these days. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Should you go to law school? That’s apparently the question on everyone’s mind, so Professor Deborah Merritt of Ohio State Law and Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency are here to help you out. [NerdWallet]

* Wherein the five worst law partners known are discussed. Oh, whatever, partners should be able to act however they want to anyone. [Greedy Associates / FindLaw]

When you stop smoking, the cigarettes don’t get together to figure out how to kill you anyway.

Benjamin Wittes, on a panel at the National Lawyers Convention of the Federalist Society, responding to the observation that smoking and traffic accidents cause more deaths in a year than 9/11.

(Julian Sanchez discusses what the web is for, after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: Dangerous Addictions”

Dahlia Lithwick Slate Senior Editor.jpgWe spent a fair amount of time last week in lovely Charlottesville, Virginia, where we spoke at the University of Virginia Law School (coverage of our talk appears here and here). We spent lots of quality time with UVA Law students — at dinner, at a karaoke bar, and walking around the beautiful grounds.

One of the highlights of our trip was attending a luncheon talk by the fabulous Dahlia Lithwick, who has covered the Supreme Court for Slate for the past ten years (and who also served as a celebrity judge on ATL Idol). Despite suffering from a nasty flu, she delivered remarks that were hilarious and insightful, shedding much light upon media coverage of the Court.

Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Covering the Court: Thoughts from Dahlia Lithwick”

Alberto Gonzales 2 Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPGAttorney General Alberto Gonzales may be slightly more secure in his position these days than in the recent past, when it was looking like “Gonzales” was Spanish for “canned.” But he’s not out of the woods yet — which is why speculation about possible successors continues.
Ben Wittes, writing for TNR Online, has some excellent insights. His overall take:

[B]etween a sinking administration that still demands loyalty above all else and congressional Democrats keen on using their new oversight powers, finding a candidate who satisfies both sides will be hard. The next attorney general must be someone acceptable enough to Democrats not just to get confirmed but to tamp down the fire Gonzales has witlessly set.

But he must also be enough of a conservative to satisfy the White House. And he needs a reputation for probity and moral seriousness sufficient to speak to the public and to Congress with the respect that Gonzales obviously lacks. It’s a tall order–a pinch so tight that it squeezes out almost all of the names being bandied about in public.

Wittes then marches through various possible nominees. Discussion continues, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Possible Replacements for Alberto Gonzales”

musical chairs 2 Above the Law legal blog above the law legal tabloid above the law legal gossip site.GIFHere are some recent, noteworthy moves within the D.C. legal community:
Inside the Administration:
* Conservative legal superstar Jennifer Brosnahan has left the White House Counsel’s office, where she was one of the more senior associate counsels, to become the new deputy general counsel at the Department of Transportation.
From government to private practice:
* As previously reported by Ken Vogel of The Politico, Michael Toner has left the Federal Election Commission, to build an election law practice at Bryan Cave (which, by the way, recently raised associate salaries).
Within the Fourth Estate:
* One of the most knowledgeable legal scribes around, Benjamin Wittes, is leaving the Washington Post, after some nine years at the venerable paper.
(Wittes, the author of Confirmation Wars (previously praised here), is currently on book leave from the Post. He’s working on another book about the federal courts.)
FEC Revolving Door Swings Faster [The Politico]

Confirmation Wars Ben Wittes Benjamin Wittes Above the Law.jpgHey, guess what? In our best impression of Howard Bashman, we’re going to tell you all about a recent lunch of ours.
On Tuesday, we had an absolutely delightful lunch with Benjamin Wittes. He’s an editorial writer for the Washington Post, specializing in legal affairs, and the author of a new book about the judicial confirmation process: Confirmation Wars: Preserving Independent Courts in Angry Times.
We recommend Confirmation Wars most highly. It’s tremendously well-researched, as well as fascinating and fun to read. (Even the footnotes are juicy.) It has the rigor of an academic book — it’s published in connection with the Hoover Institution at Stanford — but the readability of, well, a non-academic book. And it came out after the Roberts and Alito confirmations were concluded, so it’s informed by those recent experiences.
Wittes ably diagnoses the problems with the current judicial nomination and confirmation process, then offers up some solutions. And he’s commendably fair-minded and non-ideological in his assessment of a highly controversial subject. (To learn more about the substantive views expressed in the book, check out this article, from the Harvard Law Record.)
Starting in January, Wittes will be away from the Post. He’s going on a six-month book leave, to work on his next project: a book about the federal appeals court. We can’t wait to read it!
In case you’re wondering, we lunched at Georgia Brown’s, just down the street from the Post offices. We both had the soup special — black bean, if memory serves — and the fried chicken salad, which was scrumptious, even if not very healthy for a salad. And we gossiped incessantly about federal judges and judicial nominees. What a blast!!!
Confirmation Wars: Preserving Independent Courts in Angry Times [Amazon.com]
Confirmation Wars: Ben Wittes on How to Preserve Judicial Independence [Harvard Law Record]