Federalist Society

Plaintiffs’ lawyers in class action cases: are they heroes, or villains? Do they make too much in fees, leaving the classes they represent high and dry? Or could it be argued that they make too little for the work that they do?

Let’s discuss….

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If you’re a law student, you probably checked your email first thing this morning for one reason or another. Maybe you were waiting to hear back from a professor. Maybe you were praying for a snow day and hoping that classes were canceled. Either way, you probably weren’t expecting to see something like this from your law school:

What the hell? If the proposed war on gunners started today, Above the Law didn’t get the memo. Which law school sponsored a “Killing Spree”?

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The president looks good in a doctor's coat, no?

In a development that should surprise no one, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning agreed to review the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s signature policy achievement, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare. This means that, before the end of the current SCOTUS Term in summer 2012, Anthony Kennedy the justices will rule on the validity of this sweeping legislation (unless they avoid the question on jurisdictional grounds, as Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit recently did — a path that might appeal to Justice Kennedy, as suggested by Professor Noah Feldman, and a path that the Court itself highlighted by mentioning the jurisdictional issue in its certiorari grant.)

In the meantime, there will be a lot of cocktail party chatter about the health care reform law and its constitutionality. If you’d like some quick talking points, for use when you get the inevitable “What do you think about this as a lawyer?” questions from friends and family at Thanksgiving, keep reading….

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Let a thousand law schools bloom?

Critics of the current legal-education model, including my colleague Elie Mystal, have accused the American Bar Association of failing to uphold sufficiently stringent accreditation standards. ABA-accredited law schools proliferate, even though thousands of law school graduates find themselves unemployed or underemployed.

The ABA was recently chided by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity for various alleged deficiencies in the ABA’s exercise of its accreditation power (for example, failure to consider student-loan default rates in assessing programs). Politicians such as Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Tom Coburn (R-OK) have also raised questions about whether there are too many law schools and law school graduates, especially in light of the still-challenging legal job market.

In light of this debate, I was eager to attend a panel at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention on the subject of law school accreditation….

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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.)

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I really think after-dinner speeches are a barbarous institution.

– Justice Antonin Scalia, in after-dinner remarks at the annual banquet of the Federalist Society, where he and Justice Clarence Thomas were honored for their respective 25 and 20 years of service on the Supreme Court.

(Justice Scalia comments playfully on Justice Thomas, after the jump.)

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Whenever a judge turns to rational-basis analysis, he’s basically saying, ‘You think two plus two equals five, and I don’t know how to add.’

– Professor Richard Epstein, at an interesting debate sponsored earlier this evening by the Columbia Law School Federalist Society. Professor Epstein and Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.) debated the merits of Kelo v. City of New London (2005). Professor Epstein attacked Kelo and Chief Judge Kozinski defended the decision.

(The event was standing room only, even though tonight was Halloween. Clearly this was more fun to CLS students than donning cheap costumes from Ricky’s and marching around the Village in a state of inebriation.)

Just because Nonie Darwish is controversial doesn't mean she shouldn't be allowed to speak.

It appears that some people have forgotten that they are free to not attend events sponsored by the Federalist Society.

There is a controversy bubbling at George Mason University School of Law because the law school’s chapter of the Federalist Society has invited Nonie Darwish to speak at an event. Darwish has been described as a “notorious Islamophobe” who argues that Islam should be “annihilated.” Some people on campus, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, have asked the law school to disinvite Darwish.

Come on, people. We live in a world where Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gets to speak at the U.N. (to say nothing of Columbia University). Ahmadinejad has been described (by me) as a “notorious a**hole” who argues that the Holocaust “didn’t happen.”

The world is just going to be a lot easier to navigate if the Federalist Society can invite whom they want and the American Constitution Society can invite whom they want…

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Stephen McDaniel

I just realized that I share several things in common with Stephen Mark McDaniel, the recent Mercer Law School graduate who has been charged with the grisly murder of his former classmate, Lauren Giddings.

During law school, I served as vice-president of my law school’s Federalist Society chapter. So did Stephen McDaniel (under Lauren Giddings, who served as president).

Through the Federalist Society, I got to meet one of my heroes, Justice Clarence Thomas. So did Stephen McDaniel, who expressed his admiration for Justice Thomas’s integrity.

I once aspired to be a prosecutor and a federal judge. So did Stephen McDaniel, who hoped to serve as a prosecutor on his way to realizing his dream of serving on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stephen McDaniel’s mother, Glenda McDaniel, once asked her son whether romance was possible between him and any woman. My mother has posed similar questions of me.

Lauren Giddings

And this, thankfully, is where the similarities end. My hair, while sometimes problematic, doesn’t look like the result of “a grizzly bear banging Bob Marley’s mom” (as one ATL tipster described McDaniel’s mane). In law school, I wore khakis and button-down shirts to class, not chain mail (which doesn’t sound very comfortable). I have never been accused of burglarizing apartments (to steal condoms). And I’ve certainly never been accused of murder.

As we reported last night, Stephen M. McDaniel, 25, has been charged with the horrific murder of Lauren Giddings, 27, a bright and beautiful recent graduate of Mercer Law. Giddings’s decapitated torso was found on June 30. The search for the rest of her remains continues.

Let’s take a closer look at this deeply disturbing case….

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Another day, another controversy over something hanging in a law school. Why is law school decor such a charged issue these days?

As some of may already know, I served as vice president of the Yale Federalist Society when I was in law school. My campaign was non-controversial. At the time, the VP was responsible for handling travel arrangements for visiting speakers, as well as for making restaurant reservations for post-talk dinners. In my speech, I talked about how much I enjoyed making travel arrangements, confessing that in high school my career goal was to become head concierge at a leading hotel. I won handily; it was a successful strategy.

I did not put up inflammatory posters that upset many members of the law school community and triggered a response from the dean — like the aspiring Fed Soc president at one midwestern law school.

Yes, we have pictures of the posters. Judge for yourself whether the posters, which have been removed, were racist and/or offensive….

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