Federal Government

* Do you think Chief Justice Roberts is the Supreme Court’s “peacemaker”? To be fair, at least he does a better job of tempering all of his judicial rage than his colleagues. [Politico]

* According to Prof. John Eastman of Chapman Law, the SCOTUS decision striking down DOMA means Prop 8 is good law in California. Try and wrap your mind around that one. [OC Weekly]

* The Senate approved a bipartisan immigration reform plan with a 68-32 vote, and now it’s up to House representatives to take the bill and summarily wipe their asses with it. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* The good folks at Hobby Lobby quilted for hours yesterday to celebrate the Tenth Circuit’s reversal of a lower court’s denial of an injunction blocking the ACA’s contraceptives mandate. [The Oklahoman]

* Texas A&M still hopes to acquire Texas Weslyan’s law school; they’re just waiting for the ABA to look over the paperwork. Welcome, Texas A&M Law, since the takeover will obviously be approved. [WTAW]

* Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been indicted on 30 counts of violence and weapons-related charges. Right now, he’s looking at a possibility of life in prison or the death penalty. [CNN]

Over its long and storied history, Davis Polk & Wardwell hasn’t hired many lateral partners. Most of its partners are homegrown, joining the firm right out of law school and spending their entire careers there (like the two most recently promoted partners).

But this has started to change over the past few years, as managing partner Thomas Reid discussed in an August 2011 interview with Am Law Daily. In the August 2010 to August 2011 period, DPW hired a half-dozen prominent lateral partners.

And the lateral hiring spree continues (although not without the occasional snag). Let’s hear about Davis Polk’s latest high-profile hire, a new lateral partner at Paul Hastings, and an addition to the leadership of Orrick….

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Way back in the callow, innocent days of, um, February 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered its opinion in Clapper v. Amnesty International. The case stemmed from a challenge of the constitutionality of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, 50 U. S. C. §1881a.

If you didn’t pay much attention to the Court’s decision in Clapper back then, you might want to revisit it now that we know we’re all subject to NSA surveillance . . . .

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For all the criticism the government takes for poor money management, they really do know how to bring in the revenue. They may not intend to bring it in, but they bring it in.

For example, the U.S. government has investments poised to make 55 cents on the dollar. And these investments are also almost impossible not to collect.

And these investments are you. Or at least those of you with government loans from law school.

Steven Harper, author of The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis (affiliate link), reviews the problem — and the less than stellar proposed solutions coming from Congress and the White House…

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Attorney General Eric Holder

The tipping point might be fatigue. You get to a point where you just get tired.

– Attorney General Eric Holder, responding to a question about his possible departure from the Justice Department that was posed yesterday by Senator Richard Shelby of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

These are trying times for clerkship applicants. The Law Clerk Hiring Plan is pretty much dead, at least in its strictest version, and it seems like every judge is going his or her own way.

The best applicants can hope for, in the absence of any standardized approach to law clerk hiring, is transparency. Ideally judges should provide clear and comprehensive information about their own particular approaches to hiring clerks. Thanks to this nifty thing called the internet, it’s not that hard.

As in many things, the Southern District of New York provides a model for other courts to follow….

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Do federal employees know how to use all the items in this picture?

The federal government hasn’t exactly been covering itself in glory. This weekend, the IRS was caught line dancing. I had to go on The Mike Huckabee Show where I was allegedly “destroyed” by a conservative screaming about Holder and his association with… Covington & Burling. The right wing is whipped up into a frenzy, and I’m sure if they want to keep focusing on this stuff instead of passing, say, comprehensive immigration reform, Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden will thank them for it in 2016.

But the bottom line is that when you habitually starve the government of the resources needed to hire quality people, you end up with less than stellar government services. The IRS probably doesn’t end up looking this incompetent if it isn’t staffed by glorified toll booth employees.

That’s some big picture stuff. Elsewhere in the regulatory firmament, on the small scale, we’ve got federal regulators who are being investigated for their inability to blow their nose properly…

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Republicans can’t make moderate white people afraid of Barack Obama just because he’s black. They’ve tried. And it works on the fringe birther/nutjob element that is already suspicious of people who use polysyllabic words, much less multiculturalism. But with moderate “I can’t watch Fox because the game is on” white folks, all the dog-whistle calls in the world don’t cause racial animosity towards the likeable Barack Obama.

But his black friends are a different story. Or maybe Obama just thinks that voters will be more racist towards blacks without his personal likability? But for whatever reason, Obama has shown no stomach for standing up and defending the black people in his life when the Republican scandal brigade comes for their blood sacrifice.

Remember Jeremiah Wright? If he had been a white preacher to a Republican candidate, he would have gone unnoticed. Instead, he sounded a bit like an angry black man. Obama put that brother on ice. Remember Susan Rice? She did… nothing? She’s not Secretary of State because Obama didn’t want a fight. Hell, Obama didn’t even go to the mattresses for Desiree Rogers, his social secretary who got punked and was replaced by a white woman.

Let’s just say that if I were the first black attorney general, I wouldn’t expect a whole lot of help from the first black president right now…

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Last month, the powers-that-be behind OSCAR (the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review) made some changes to the remnants of the Law Clerk Hiring Plan (to the extent that folks still follow the Plan). The upshot: OSCAR will release the electronic clerkship applications of rising 3Ls on June 28, 2013, at 12:00 p.m. (ET). At that point, judges are free to schedule and conduct interviews and make clerkship offers.

In writing about this news, I questioned the wisdom of this approach: “The Plan provides for ‘a single date to receive applications, schedule and conduct interviews, and make clerkship offers.’ This could be a recipe for an utterly shambolic process, a mad scramble for talent on June 28, full of hastily conducted interviews, exploding offers, and questionable behavior by both judges and applicants.”

Well, it seems that some judges agree with this analysis and are taking a different tack….

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“In four minutes, it would be another hour; a half hour after that was the ten-minute break. Lane Dean imagined himself running around on the break, waving his arms and shouting gibberish and holding ten cigarettes at once in his mouth, like a panpipe. Year after year, a face the same color as your desk. Lord Jesus. Coffee wasn’t allowed because of spills on the files, but on the break he’d have a big cup of coffee in each hand while he pictured himself running around the outside grounds, shouting. He knew what he’d really do on the break was sit facing the wall clock in the lounge and, despite prayers and effort, count the seconds tick off until he had to come back and do this again. And again and again and again.”

David Foster Wallace, The Pale King (affiliate link)

Yesterday, the New York Times ran a longish piece on just what in the hell was happening at the IRS office in Cincinnati. A Kafkaesque tale of bureaucratic intrigue, the treatment does little to tell us why in the hell we care just what in the hell was happening at the IRS office in Cincinnati. I’ll leave that determination to the qualified pundits and their punditry.

But what the Times article does do is shine a light on what it means to be a lawyer. What it means to others and what it means to us. Completely by accident, the mess at the IRS tells us how important lawyers are. And how impotent we are. This makes little sense even as I type it. But bear with me. Please. It is not often that meaning comes so nicely gift-wrapped.

What does it mean to be a lawyer?

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