Federal Circuit

Sequestration has government lawyers going on mandatory furloughs and facing ethical dilemmas. But the federal bench has cause to bust out the bubbly.

On Monday, the Supreme Court took a pass on an appeal from the Federal Circuit that ordered the government to pay cost-of-living adjustments to six federal judges that the feds routinely stiffed over the last 20 years or so.

Sure, right now this only applies to the six judges who sued, but it’s only a matter of time before a huge swath of the federal judiciary takes the government to court.

How big of a pay day are we looking at?

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Given the Government’s conduct in this case, the court orders the Government to show cause why it should not be sanctioned under this court’s inherent authority. It seems that sanctions may be needed to motivate VA in the future to treat its commitments and representations to this court and opposing counsel with the seriousness to which they are entitled.

– Judge S. Jay Plager, reprimanding counsel for the Department of Veterans Affairs in National Organization of Veterans Advocates, Inc. v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Fed. Cir. Mar 21, 2013), a case concerning the due process rights of veterans seeking benefits.

* If you hate the government and you hate lawyers more, then you’ll love this. In the past five years, the feds have awarded $3.3 billion to more than 4,700 vendors for legal work. [National Law Journal]

* A year and a half after he was nominated for a Federal Circuit judgeship, and more than a year after his hearing, the Senate finally decided to confirm Richard Taranto. How kind. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Pretty pretty please? Zvi Goffer and Michael Kimmelman would really really like it if the Second Circuit could overturn their insider trading convictions due to unfairness. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* The U.S. News law school rankings are often criticized, and here’s why: if survey respondents “were asked about Princeton Law School, it would appear in the top 20. But it doesn’t exist.” [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Nevermind the fact that law school applications are down, but Northwestern Law is doing the “responsible thing” and reducing the size of its incoming class — and raising tuition by 3% to boot. [Wall Street Journal]

* Jason Rapert, the Arkansas senator who passed a fetal-heartbeat abortion ban in his state, says he “has no time” for anyone who says it’s unconstitutional. To paraphrase, ain’t nobody got time for that. [New York Times]


When Rick told Ilsa that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, he was right, because a hill of beans is worth a whole hell of a lot thanks to Monsanto.

Today, the Supreme Court will hear argument in Bowman v. Monsanto Co., an appeal from the Federal Circuit regarding the extent of Monsanto’s rights in patented, genetically modified soybean seeds. In addition to the obvious stakes for the agricultural sector, the decision could impact the entire biotechnology industry, as well as computer software and nanotechnology. I mean, I want to know who holds the patent when the grey goo overruns the planet!

So, who are the players and why do they care?

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* Sadly, Ronald Dworkin has died at 81. [The Faculty Lounge]

* Oracle really really hopes the Federal Circuit has read Harry Potter. But of course they have, because… nerds. [Groklaw]

* A 16-year-old is suing her parents to keep her unborn baby, claiming her parents are forcing her to have an abortion. I’m sure she’s just hoping to get on the next season of Teen Mom. [KPLR 11]

* Snake-handling pastor has his snakes confiscated by Tennessee cops. I had to read this twice because I assumed it was a recap from last night’s Justified. [WSJ Law Blog]

* An interesting look at the false dichotomy between teaching and practice. It’s probably unfair, but all I kept thinking was, “those that can, do; those that can’t…” [PrawfsBlawg]

* Jeff Kurzon is taking a break from suing law schools to run for Congress. If elected, Staci expects an invitation to the next State of the Union. [Jeff Kurzon Blog]

* Overlawyered cites, presumably with disdain, a school district banning the use of a piece of playground equipment. I’m sympathetic to the school for two reasons: (1) when I was a kid, I broke my arm on a piece of playground equipment; and (2) take a look at the death trap of a machine they’re banning. [Overlawyered]

* TestMasters claims that individual posters have been sharing their materials for free. This case sounds an awful lot like what brought down Litchfield Law School. [Courthouse News Service]

* President Barack Obama recently nominated two attorneys for the Federal Circuit who are being referred to as “noteworthy” because of their ethnicity (Asian American) and sexual orientation (openly gay). Let’s hear three cheers for diversity! [Blog of Legal Times]

* Dewey & LeBoeuf and Howrey have something in common aside from going down in a gigantic ball of flames that rocked Biglaw as we know it. Both firms’ fine art collections will soon be auctioned off by Adam A. Weschler & Son Inc. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* There’s nothing like acting like the product you’re selling: MGA, the maker of Bratz dolls, would like to have Orrick’s $23 million arbitration award vacated because paying your legal bills is so passé. [The Recorder]

* We briefly noted California’s new bar passage mandate for state-accredited schools here, but now a law school is suing over it, claiming the bar examiners are “waging a vendetta” against it. [National Law Journal]

* The NCAA wants to get Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s suit over PSU’s Sandusky-related penalties tossed, with a harsh reminder that hurt feelings have absolutely nothing to do with antitrust law. [Bloomberg]

Me, earlier today.

* PETA sends Bebe a cease-and-desist letter over fur-free advertising. To be honest, I only understood half of what I just wrote. [Fashionista]

* Here are five reasons why editors hate lawyers. Of course, when the editors are lawyers, you just kind of end up hating yourself. [About Editing And Writing]

* Can someone explain to me how it’s constitutional for Virginia to promise not to enforce laws? [Pilot]

* Did you enjoy the South Park episode that involved proprietary towel technology? Then you’ll love this lawsuit! [Thomson Reuters News and Insight]

* I asked Professor Rick Hasen whether or not I should self immolate to prevent the GOP from legally rigging the next election, and he’s telling me to chill out because it’s gonna be okay. [Slate]

* I’ve been trying to find an excuse to link to this. It’s a guy who is blogging about news from 1913 as if it was happening in real time, in this technological environment. Here, we look at some very swift Southern-style justice. [Retro Pundit]

* I must admit, I wanted to pull out my Leonardo DiCaprio coconut drinking goblet to fully enjoy this rich-white-man fight. [Dealbreaker]

* Belated congratulations to Elbert Lin, aka Mr. LEWW, on his appointment as solicitor general for West Virginia. [Bench Memos / National Review Online]

A trademark cock-a-doodle-don’t.

We think that the Board did not err in concluding that the distinction between COCKSUCKER and COCK SUCKER is a distinction without a difference. So too the association of COCK SUCKER with a poultry-themed product does not diminish the vulgar meaning – it merely establishes an additional, non-vulgar meaning and a double entendre.

This not a case in which the vulgar meaning of the mark’s literal element is so obscure or so faintly evoked that a context that amplifies the non-vulgar meaning will efface the vulgar meaning altogether. Rather, the mark is precisely what [appellant] Fox intended it to be: a double entendre, meaning both “rooster lollipop” and “one who performs fellatio.”

– Circuit Judge Timothy Dyk, affirming on behalf of a three-judge panel of the Federal Circuit the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s prior affirmance of an examiner’s refusal to register the mark “COCK SUCKER” for rooster lollipops.

Angelica Marie Cecora, Oscar's latest lady-friend

* A bill to repeal DOMA made it past the Senate Judiciary Committee, but members of the Senate don’t do dick (unless it’s in an airport bathroom), so it’s probably not going anywhere. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Next on the gay rights news beat, after waiting around for 18 months, WilmerHale attorney Edward DuMont has refused to be the last belle at the ball. He’s asked Obama to withdraw his Federal Circuit nomination. [ThinkProgress]

* “Be careful of what you do, ’cause the lie becomes the truth.” Sound familiar? Conrad Murray says the King of Pop deceived him. Oh, boo hoo. Come on, MJ warned you about this stuff via song lyrics back in the eighties. [CNN]

* When a lawyer’s wife allegedly hires you to kill her husband, the easy way out isn’t to burn down his law firm. You kind of need to make sure that he’s in there first. [KBZK]

* Oscar de la Hoya’s got bigger problems than this kinky lawsuit. He’s probably more worried about getting runs in his stockings, to be honest. [New York Post]

* Snitches don’t get stitches in Mexico. They get their freakin’ heads chopped off. And now I wait for a drug cartel to come and murder me. [Daily Mail]

Two people from my high school got into the same college I did. We were all in the top 10 of our class, but none of us were in the top 5. One was a white guy who was a brilliant piano player. The other was a white girl who excelled at sports. Then there was me. I had the “does lots of activities” application. You know the type of d-bag kid I’m talking about: debate this, mock trial that, sports, school plays, bands.

Also, I’m black. Do you think that might have had something to do with it? I hope it did, since it seems to me that my race is at least as much of a factor in what I may add to an incoming college class as whether I could play the piano or dominate in field hockey.

Of course, saying race can be a factor in college admissions is controversial. A certain segment of the population gets all bent out of sorts when a “deserving” white student potentially gets “passed over” because a college official gave a person of color “extra points” when making up the entering class of students.

I find these arguments totally irrational. If the top five students from my high school were passed over — three Jews and two Asians (you know, the real victims of affirmative action, if there are any) — then who exactly “took” their spots? Me, or the sports chick? And if an Asian guy “takes” my spot, but I bump down the piano player who didn’t score as well as I did, and the piano player takes the spot of some poor Hispanic kid who has never seen a piano in real life, would everybody say that we all got what we deserved?

Coming up with an effective way to balance all of the relevant factors in college admissions is hard. But when race is involved, people don’t want to deal with “hard,” and they don’t want to hear “complicated.” They want simple rules and a few platitudes they can recite on television. After yesterday’s Fifth Circuit decision upholding affirmative action at the University of Texas, the only question is whether the Supreme Court has the will and intellectual rigor to think through something hard, or whether the majority will want to fall back on truisms and clichés…

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