Civil Rights

Later today, Chief Justice John Roberts will swear in President Barack Obama for Obama’s second term as President of the United States. Hopefully they’ll get it right this time.

President Obama, of course, is the first African-American to serve as POTUS. His election and recent reelection show how much progress our nation has made over the years in terms of racial equality and justice.

Much of that progress can be attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the pioneering civil rights leader whose birthday remember today. Dr. King was born on January 15, 1929, and the holiday in his honor is observed on the third Monday of January.

In honor of the holiday, we don’t plan on publishing much (if anything) today. Feel free to scroll back through the archives and read stories you might have missed from last week.

If you’re looking for something to do, you can use today for public service. Look up service projects in your area at MLKDay.gov. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

UPDATE (11:00 AM): As noted in the comments, today’s ceremonial swearing-in will be the second one for President Obama’s second term. He was formally sworn in yesterday “because the official start of his second term landed on Sunday. The Constitution says the president’s term expires on Jan. 20 at noon.”

* Oh mon dieu! Cela ne semble pas bon! As confirmed by The Lawyer, Nixon Peabody will definitely be closing its four-year-old international outpost in Paris, France, leaving the firm with only two offices outside of the United States. Triste. :( [Am Law Daily]

* “I just wanted somebody to pat me on the head.” Aww, all this former Winston & Strawn partner wanted was for someone to tell him he was a good boy, so he helped Kenneth Starr launder money. At least he didn’t get jail time. [New York Law Journal]

* Sorry, lady, but when you work in an HR capacity and you publish tripe about gays not being civil rights victims because they “choose” their lifestyle, the Sixth Circuit will just laugh at your appeal. [National Law Journal]

* At least one law school has gotten the point that tuition is too damn high. Starting next year, Seton Hall Law will allow qualifying first-year students to save about 50 percent on the cost of attendance. [Associated Press]

* What are some benefits of taking a gap year between the completion of your undergraduate degree and law school? Well, for one, you might reconsider your decision to enroll. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* Robert Bork, former D.C. Circuit judge and SCOTUS nominee, RIP. [Commentary Magazine]

As we near the end of 2012, we can definitely declare this year to be a momentous one for LGBT rights and equality. Two federal appeals courts struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (and the Supreme Court will soon consider whether to grant review in the DOMA litigation, which it almost certainly will). On Election Day, voters across the country came out in favor of marriage equality. The good people of Wisconsin elected Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate, making her our nation’s first openly gay senator.

Despite these advances, being an LGBT attorney presents unique challenges. When it comes to welcoming gay and lesbian lawyers, not all firms are created equal.

The good news, though, is that Biglaw made a big showing in the Human Rights Campaign’s latest Corporate Equality Index, which scores large U.S. employers in terms of how LGBT-friendly they are in their policies and practices. Which firms are letting their rainbow flags fly?

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DSK wants to know: since when is having a libido a crime?

* What effect will the Supreme Court’s ruling in Miller v. Alabama, striking down life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders, have in the real world? [New York Times]

* Coming out of the First Circuit, some good news on attorneys fees for civil rights lawyers. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Speaking of fees, which firms are raking them in as emerging market companies starting emerging onto the M&A scene? [American Lawyer]

* You’ve got to fight… for your right… to teach legal writing at the University of Iowa. At least if you’re a conservative. That’s the allegation by an aspiring academic, Teresa Wagner, which hits a courtroom this week. [Houston Chronicle]

* Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn wants to know: is enjoying the occasional orgy such a crime? [Gothamist]

* Career alternatives: Mary Wittenberg — chief executive of New York Road Runners, which puts on the New York Marathon — is a Notre Dame law grad and former Hunton & Williams lawyer. [New York Times]

* Former Senator Arlen Specter, an active participant in historic Supreme Court nomination battles, RIP. [Philadelphia Daily News]

FOIA requests: how do they work?

As our resident Juggalo columnist mentioned in August, the minions of crazed rednecks who worship at the altar of Violent J and Shaggy2Dope — otherwise known as the Insane Clown Posse — are not at all happy that the FBI has labelled them a gang. To defend their honor, as well as their right to get wasted and throw absurd parties in the middle of nowhere, the Juggalo nation has decided to launch a Faygo attack on the Pentagon sue the FBI.

Looks like these clowns aren’t clowning around….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Circus Goes to Washington: Insane Clown Posse Sues the FBI Over Gang Designation”

Father of Our Country, Juggalo Washington

What is a juggalo?
Let me think for a second
Oh, he gets butt-naked
And then he walks through the streets
Winking at the freaks
With a two-liter stuck in his butt-cheeks

Insane Clown Posse

At the 1992 Republican National Convention, Pat Buchanan announced that America was in the midst of a culture war. In his view, this war was being waged between descendents of the 60’s counter-culture and those who sought to protect “traditional” values. In the field of law, this idea found a home in (who else?) Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in Romer v. Evans, in which he famously wrote that “[t]he Court has mistaken a Kulturkampf for a fit of spite.” Something about the original German sends a shiver down the spine, doesn’t it? Anyway, we can all surely agree that these two yahoos wouldn’t know a culture war if it slapped them in the face with a bottle of Faygo soda.

There’s a real culture war going on, ninjas. And it has nothing to do with gay marrying or abortions or the third rail of American politics, cockfighting. It has to do with the FBI’s insane decision to categorize Juggalos — i.e., fans of the Insane Clown Posse hip-hop duo — as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang.” It has to do with real persecution and honest-to-God discrimination against the Juggalo people.

Luckily for me and my fellow Juggalos, Insane Clown Posse doesn’t know the meaning of backing down. And that’s not a slam at all, it’s just a turn-of-phrase. They know the meaning. They just refuse to back down. Is what I’m saying….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Insane Clown… Plaintiffs? Juggalos Consider Suing the FBI”

Chen Guangcheng

The fundamental question the Chinese government must face is lawlessness. China does not lack laws, but the rule of law.

– Chinese civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng, in an op-ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times. Guangcheng is currently studying law at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at NYU Law School.

(Keep reading to see how Guangcheng describes the lawless conduct he and his family have allegedly faced — at the hands of law enforcement — in his homeland.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: The Law Is Serious Business (Seriously)”

How... do you keep changing your race?

* Dewey seriously have one chairman again? Good Lord, this law firm is literally falling apart! Martin Bienenstock had “no plans to file bankruptcy” because he knew he was taking the first life raft off this sinking ship. [WSJ Law Blog]

* When Dewey WARN people? When it’s already too late. In case you missed it last night, the firm was served with its first suit following its en-masse layoffs. The more the merrier, because it’s a class action. [Bloomberg; WSJ Law Blog]

* Elizabeth Warren can’t decide whether she’s white or Native American. Apparently it depends on her geographic location, because she was white at UT Law, but a minority while at Penn Law. [Boston Globe]

* Racial profiling still ain’t easy, but Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio “will fight this to the bitter end.” The Department of Justice has filed a civil rights suit against the no-nonsense Sheriff and his department. [Associated Press]

* New Jersey Governor Chris Christie must be gearing up for his inevitable 2016 presidential run, because yesterday he vetoed an online insurance marketplace required by the Affordable Care Act. [New York Times]

* Syracuse Law recently broke ground on a $90M building that will serve as its new home. May political plagiarizers continue to grace the law school’s halls for years and years to come. [National Law Journal]

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Yesterday, January 15, was the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the great American civil rights leader and Nobel laureate. As noted on the Nobel website, Dr. King was just 35 years old at the time he was honored, making him the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. Please take some time today to reflect on Dr. King and his legacy.

Hopefully you can engage in this reflection outside of the office. We’re guessing (and hoping) that most of you have the day off from work. Here at Above the Law, we will be publishing, although on a reduced schedule. So do check in with us from time to time (or scroll back through the archives and look at stories you might have missed from last week).

If you’re looking for something to do, you can use today for public service. Look up service projects in your area at MLKDay.gov. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

It’s been a bad few days for the Church of England. First, it gets slammed for siding with the bankers, rather than the protesters, after its flagship venue, St Paul’s Cathedral, finds itself at the heart of Occupy London. Second, a change to the U.K.’s ancient royal succession laws strikes a blow for its great rival, Rome, as a ban on royal family members who marry Catholics taking the throne is lifted.

Beginning with the Occupy London controversy: the protesters’ original plan was to occupy St Paul’s neighbour, the London Stock Exchange, which nestles alongside the U.K. branch of O’Melveny & Myers on an adjoining square. But they were blocked by the police, forcing them instead to set up camp on the forecourt of the great cathedral (built from the ashes of the Great Fire of London in 1666). At first this seemed like a defeat, as the Church of England played victim, shutting the doors of St Paul’s to visitors for the first time since the Second World War on what it claimed were health and safety grounds.

Here’s what the encampment looked like:

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