Election Law

* If you thought the Redskins were offensive, I bring you the Coachella Valley High Arabs. Complete with video of their mascot! [Yahoo! Sports]

* With states increasingly losing access to tried and true execution drugs, the wardens are now experimenting on their own. This sounds (a) incredibly cruel and unusual, and (b) likely to result in creating a supervillian. [Vocativ]

* Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott fought hard for a voter ID law. And on Tuesday, he failed to meet the standards of the law he championed. Derp. [Opposing Views]

* We frequently link to the fun poetic stylings of Poetic Justice. Now you can enter a contest to win a free copy of the book! [Poetic Justice]

* In a horrific turn, a father called the cops to teach his son a lesson. Then the cops killed the son. [Gawker]

* Fear Roatti the White Tiger, Esq. Fear him mightily. [Deadspin]

* This is perhaps the weirdest law firm video ever. Video embedded after the jump… [Legal Cheek]

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“[O]ne familiar with the profound debates that ushered our Federal Constitution into existence is bound to respect those who remain loyal to the ideals and dreams of ‘Our Federalism.’ The concept does not mean blind deference to ‘States’ Rights’ any more than it means centralization of control over every important issue in our National Government and its courts. The Framers rejected both these courses. What the concept does represent is a system in which there is sensitivity to the legitimate interests of both State and National Governments, and in which the National Government, anxious though it may be to vindicate and protect federal rights and federal interests, always endeavors to do so in ways that will not unduly interfere with the legitimate activities of the States. It should never be forgotten that this slogan, ‘Our Federalism,’ born in the early struggling days of our Union of States, occupies a highly important place in our Nation’s history and its future.”

– Justice Hugo Black, Younger v. Harris

Our Federalism. Our dear Federalism. Justice Black described this vaunted principle when deciding in 1971 that federal courts must show some restraint when interfering with state criminal prosecutions.

“Our Federalism,” though, only works when you work it. The many conservatives (myself included) who trumpet these principles in briefs, articles, and opinions ought to view this not simply as an academic matter but as a personal political responsibility as citizens.

For all the caterwauling on all sides about national politics and for all the petticoat-clutching over Our Federalism, it is shameful when those same folks can’t name a single member of their city council or school board or state supreme court. . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “When ‘Our Federalism’ Turns Into ‘Somebody Else’s Federalism’: Why Local Elections Matter”

* Lawyers are too lonely. Well, it’s not easy to find friends when you’re the most despised profession in the world. [Law and More]

* A prosecutor managed to shoot out the window of the D.A.’s office while playing with another prosecutor’s gun. The boss is mad, but really, what’s the point of having guns if you can’t treat them like toys? [Waco Tribune]

* Typical traffic stop turns into anal cavity search because clenching your buttocks during a pat down is probable cause for a prostate exam. [KOB 4]

* Lawyer informed by judges that “not everything on the internet is reliable.” [IT-Lex]

* It’s release day for Keith Lee’s new book The Marble and the Sculptor: From Law School to Law Practice (affiliate link). [Associate's Mind]

* Texas has hired Texas Law grad Steve Patterson as its new athletic director, poaching him from the same position at Arizona State. I wonder if Todd Graham will slimily bail on another school and join his old boss at Texas when Mack Brown is unceremoniously fired. [CBS Sports]

* Michelle Mumford, the former Milbank associate who went public with her negative experience of being pregnant working in the firm’s litigation department, is now the admissions dean at BYU Law. If any institution is sympathetic to pregnancy, it would be the Mormon Church. [The Careerist]

* Professor Pamela Karlan explains how political gridlock is the result of the Framers’ failure. I refuse to believe a gathering of slaveholding farmers didn’t construct a perfect system. [Boston Review]

* Judge tells lawyers they can’t withhold their fee structure as confidential when he can look it up in other cases. Was their theory that the judge was stupid? [South Florida Lawyers]

The point I was making in my book in mentioning the Crawford case was not that the decision was right or wrong … but that in many cases judges can’t have any confidence in the soundness of their decisions if they do not have empirical data concerning the likely consequences of deciding the case one way rather than another.

– Judge Richard Posner, backtracking a bit from his earlier comments suggesting that he now feels he wrongly decided Crawford v. Marion County Election Board when he noted in his book Reflections on Judging (affiliate link) that empirical evidence, unavailable in the 2007 case, has mounted that voter ID laws may suppress voting more than prevent fraud.

* A Houston couple is suing Carnival Cruises for stranding them on that infamous Poop Ship. Except they were never on that ship. [Houston Chronicle]

* Herman Cain has figured out the culprit behind the sexual harassment allegations that plagued his campaign. It was the Devil! Maybe O.J. should look into where the Devil was when Ron and Nicole were killed. [Talking Points Memo]

* In the running for the worst company name ever: “Dis Is We Thing, Inc.” As always, Above the Law is brought to you by They It Is, LLC. [Rapaport Law Firm]

* The mixologists behind “The OxyContin” cocktail have renamed it “The Cease and Desist” after the pharmaceutical company that makes OxyContin shot off its cease and desist letter. Because this cocktail was more damaging to their reputation than being one of the most used and abused drugs on the market. [Forbes]

* People unfairly zero in on the personalities behind information leaks rather than the substance of the leaks themselves. I don’t know about that… I mean, The Fifth Estate bombed. [Politix]

* The new Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game is coming to America. I gather you can yell “Objection!” at your Nintendo DS and it responds. Anyway, here’s the review. [GameSpot]

* Down in Texas, Judge Sandra Watts got a taste of the new draconian totally fair voter ID requirements when election officials tried to block the 49-year veteran of the voting process from voting because her maiden name was on her ID. Thankfully for Judge Watts, she understood the law a little better than the poll workers. [ThinkProgress]

* Mike Lickver, whose legally-inspired music videos have graced these pages a couple of times before, has a new video. It’s not legally-themed at all, but he’s a rapping lawyer, so we give him a pass for venturing out into other themes. Video after the jump…

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* Belgium has captured a real-life pirate king! But pirate kings just aren’t what they used to be. Something tells me Blackbeard wouldn’t have gone down because somebody said, “Hey, come back to England so we can make a movie about you.” [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* After a roller coaster malfunction killed a passenger, Six Flags responds by pointing the finger at someone else. They didn’t design or build the ride… they just bought it, promoted it, operated it, and profited off it, but they did not design or build it. [Houston Chronicle]

* At oral argument, Justice Scalia ripped a lawyer for thinking the Fourteenth Amendment was designed to protect minority rights against a white majority. As Scalia notes, “that was the argument in the early years…. But I thought we rejected that.” Leave it to Justice Scalia to point out that no one makes decisions based on the publicly known original intent of the drafters of constitutional provisions from 150 years ago. That would just be silly. Now, if we’re talking 200 years ago… [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* A Texas judge is reprimanded for trying to pull strings for a friend. Unfortunately, it seems like he’s also really bad at pulling strings. [Legal Juice]

* Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp has started a fashion industry law blog. Ooh Law Law. Oh, I see what you did there. [Ooh Law Law]

* Judge Posner, who authored the decision that framed the entire voter ID debate by casting doubt that the laws could be used to disenfranchise voters, tells HuffPo Live’s Mike Sacks that he was completely wrong. Judge Posner explains that events have confirmed that voter ID laws are really all about disenfranchising poor and minority voters. Ever the empiricist that Posner guy. Full video after the jump… [New York Times]

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* Who says bipartisanship is dead? Senators McCain and Gillibrand hammer Obama’s nominee for Navy Undersecretary. Gillibrand went after her specifically over prosecuting sexual assaults. [Breaking Defense]

* Lawyers per capita by state. For everyone who says lawyers make the world worse, note that Arkansas has the fewest lawyers per capita and do with that information what you will. [Law School Tuition Bubble]

* A bunch of rabbis were arrested for plotting to kidnap and torture a guy into granting a Jewish divorce. This is a thing? [Wall Street Journal]

* Professor Larry Lessig thinks the administration should have made originalist arguments in the McCutcheon case to salvage campaign finance limits. First, I don’t see why this would have worked. Second, someone in Washington has to be an adult and resist the urge to make stupid arguments just because someone might listen. [The Atlantic]

* An agent is facing 14 felony counts for giving improper benefits to college athletes. For all the alleged cheating, you’d think UNC would be better at football. [Forbes]

* A Texas judge ordered a teen to move back in with a sex offender. This was a poor decision. [USA Today]

* Upon hearing former NYC Mayor David Dinkins saying, “You don’t need to be too smart to be a lawyer, so I went to law school,” the dean of New York Law School said, “So you went to Brooklyn Law School?” Which of course Dinkins did. What is wrong with NYU’s Tribeca campus? [NYLS (exchange begins at 23:00)]

* Is this related to the law? Not really. Is it the cast of Archer doing the video of Danger Zone? Yes…

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This week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC. In McCutcheon, the Court will rule on whether certain campaign finance restrictions violate the First Amendment. ATL’s Joe Patrice offered his thoughts on the oral arguments yesterday. Today, I offer an alternative perspective.

Currently, byzantine election laws restrict the total political contributions that a person can make in a two-year period, as well as the number of candidates a person can contribute the maximum amount to. The plaintiff, Shaun McCutcheon, is a suburban Alabama businessman, the owner and founder of an electrical engineering firm. McCutcheon wanted to contribute $1,776 (a very patriotic sum, indeed) to 27 candidates across the country. Each of those individual contributions in isolation was legal, falling below the $2,600 maximum amount allowed for individual contributions. Yet, had McCutcheon done so, his total contributions would have run afoul of the maximum total allowed, currently $48,600.

Supporting political causes and candidates of your choice is an exercise of your First Amendment rights. Like all constitutional rights, though, it is subject to an overriding compelling governmental interest. In the case of campaign finance restrictions, your speech rights are trumped by the government’s interest in preventing political corruption or the appearance of political corruption.

Here, McCutcheon was expressing his political values, innocently — even laudably — participating in the democratic electoral process as he contributed up to 2600 bucks to individual candidates . . . until he supported one candidate too many. Suddenly, the First Amendment no longer safeguards his political expression. Suddenly, the threat of corruption or the appearance of corruption is so great that democracy just cannot stand if Shaun McCutcheon is allowed to give a penny more to support a candidate who shares his values….

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Supreme Court arguments are off and running, and the Supremes wasted no time in getting to the fun stuff. In this instance, it’s McCutcheon v. FEC, the case billed as Citizens United II: Electric Boogaloo. The conservative wing of the Court is expected to side with McCutcheon in its continuing war to make American elections safe for multi-millionaires.

Anyway, the oral argument was marked by the usual humorous sniping amongst the justices and lots of fun exchanges where counsel and the conservative justices worked overtime to subordinate reality to ideology. Up to and including Justice Scalia arguing that $3.5 million isn’t that much money for one individual to spend on an election.

Here are 3 immediate, largely stream-of-consciousness thoughts based on reading the transcript (available at the end of the post) coming out of this oral argument:

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “McCutcheon Oral Argument: Or, Justice Scalia Explains How $3.5 Million Isn’t That Much Money”

* Dr. Shiping Bao, the medical examiner in the Zimmerman trial, claims that Florida state prosecutors were biased against Trayvon Martin and purposely threw the case and now he’s suing. While it’s hard to believe a prosecution could be that bad absent purposeful mismanagement, Bao’s allegations conveniently surfaced right after he was fired. [News One]

* An explanation of what happened in the Colorado recalls last night. Basically, David Kopel argues that it was a victory for the Second Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. It was also a victory for the idea that “democracy” should be replaced by “scheduling off-elections to minimize the representative sample of the voting populace.” Yay! [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Maybe law clerks shouldn’t answer the phone. [Judicial Clerk Review]

* Horn-honking is “small town terrorism,” says man who probably didn’t look at a calendar when filing his lawsuit. [ABA Journal]

* “Every landlord’s worst nightmare” showing an epically trashed home is making the rounds. Is it a warrant for making it easier for landlords to bully all poor tenants? [Overlawyered]

* Continuing from above, the answer is “no” because this Hamptons rental story demonstrates that the ability to trash an apartment has nothing to do with your account balance. [Jezebel]

* Congrats to Jane Genova of Law and More on her personal blog being named one of the top online resources for public speaking. [Masters in Communication]

* Tomorrow at 2 p.m., Towleroad will be webcasting the first-ever ENDA Situation Room at New York Law School, discussing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). [Towleroad]

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