John Roberts

john roberts.jpgRadar Online had an “exclusive” report today that Justice John Roberts planned to step down any minute. It spread like wildfire through the legal community. Huffington Post picked it up, noting that the justice has suffered seizures in the past.
The chief justice is a vigorous 55, and has already hired his clerks for next term, so we were dubious. And we were right to doubt the report. There’s no merit to it. Radar just updated their article: has obtained new information that Justice Roberts will NOT resign. The justice will be staying on the bench.

Despite the desires of some liberals, Justice Roberts isn’t leaving One First Street anytime soon.
EXCLUSIVE: U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Considering Stepping Down [Radar]
John Roberts Stepping Down? [Huffington Post]

john roberts.jpgDon’t you love it when the Supreme Court of the United States makes a concerted effort to avoid constitutional issues? Today, Chief Justice John Roberts got seven other justices together in a truly remarkable display of ignoring an elephant in the room. The WSJ Law Blog reports:

It’s in the waning days of June that the Supreme Court winds up its business for the term, typically with its most high-profile decisions. Today, one such decision was handed down from on high — the case known as Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Holder.
At issue in the case was the constitutionality of section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires governments in so-called “covered” jurisdictions — state and local governments in areas that once practiced discrimination — to “preclear” changes in election procedures with the Justice Department to ensure that minority voters are protected….
Supreme Court followers and commentators had expected a narrow ruling in the case, with the constitutionality of section 5 possibly turning on the vote of Justice Kennedy. But the Court threw everyone a curve-ball, ruling 8-1 in an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts that drew a narrower path — keeping Section 5 in place, but allowing the “covered” jurisdiction at issue — a utility district in Austin, Texas — to apply for exemption from the law.

After the jump, SCOTUSblog tells us that by avoiding the constitutional issue, the Court has put Congress on notice that it needs to get off of its ass if it expects section 5 to survive much longer.

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lipstick.jpg* Struggling to compete for business in a shrinking market, law firms are hiring image and marketing consultants to improve their chances–one Philadelphia-based image consultant even tells them how to dress for the courtroom. Lay-off problem solved–apparently all you need is a makeover. [The Wall Street Journal]
* Not only that, but in an effort to be more business savvy, more firms are investing in management courses for their top lawyers. [The Wall Street Journal]
* Tweets lawyers should follow. []
* Jeffrey Toobin on John Roberts. [The New Yorker]
UPDATE: * Kash on Toobin on Roberts. [Above The Law]
* The District US Court of Appeals ruled that the White House can keep emails from the public because the White House Office of Administration is not subject to The Freedom of Information Act. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

john roberts.jpgEveryone’s a-twitter about Jeffrey Toobin’s profile of Chief Justice John Roberts in this week’s New Yorker. And with good reason. We’re not sure whether the title of the profile, “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” is meant to describe Roberts or Toobin.
We’re sure you’re familiar with Toobin, the ubiquitous legal analyst whose resume includes gigs with CNN and ABC, as well a Harvard Law School degree, a stint as an assistant U.S. attorney, time on the Oliver North trial, a Second Circuit clerkship, and many books, including The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court. And he’s not yet 50 years old (though he’ll be 49 on Thursday, according to Wikipedia).
But back to Roberts. He gets a fairly harsh appraisal in the profile, coming across as a political stooge:

After four years on the Court, however, Roberts’s record is not that of a humble moderate but, rather, that of a doctrinaire conservative. The kind of humility that Roberts favors reflects a view that the Court should almost always defer to the existing power relationships in society. In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. Even more than Scalia, who has embodied judicial conservatism during a generation of service on the Supreme Court, Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.

Toobin does not appear to be a fan of the Roberts Court. More on the elephant in the courtroom, after the jump.

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oath.jpgThe second time was a charm. Constitutional crisis averted.

Okay, it was hardly a “constitutional crisis.” But it was probably wise to take a mulligan on the oath, to avoid crackpot claims of illegitimacy. In the words of law professor Jonathan Turley, who recommended retaking the oath:

He should probably go ahead and take the oath again. If he doesn’t, there are going to be people who for the next four years are going to argue that he didn’t meet the constitutional standard. I don’t think it’s necessary, and it’s not a constitutional crisis. This is the chief justice’s version of a wardrobe malfunction.

Turley seems to place blame for the screw-up on Chief Justice Roberts, as does CNN (see their headline below). Based on the results of yesterday’s reader poll, ATL readers concur.

Obama retakes oath of office after Roberts’ mistake [CNN]

Experts say Obama should retake the oath [San Francisco Chronicle]

Reading of the Presidential Oath, Take Two? [WSJ Law Blog]

Earlier: Whoops. How does that Constitution go?

oath.jpgAs we type this, our fingers are still thawing from standing in the cold on the National Mall during today’s inauguration. The number of people willing to brave the cold was impressive. Every time President Barack Obama appeared on a jumbotron screen, the crowd went crazy with shouts of “O-bam-a” and “Yes, we did.”

The crowd quieted down in order to hear Obama take the oath of office. But what followed was a bit confusing. SCOTUS Chief Justice and now-President Barack Obama appeared to be talking over one another. In the crowd, people started asking, “Who screwed it up?” reports that Roberts is to blame:

The Constitution prescribes the text: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

But Chief Justice John Roberts, using no notes, flubbed his lines, and Obama knew it.

First, Obama jumped in before the “do solemnly swear” phrase, which seemed to throw the chief justice off his stride. Roberts rendered the next phrase as “that I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully.”

“That I will execute,” Obama repeated, then paused like a school teacher prompting his student with a slight nod. Roberts took another shot at it: “The off … faithfully the pres … the office of President of the United States.”

Is there a little pro-Obama bias there? We’re not so sure Roberts is totally to blame. As one ATL commenter says:

First Flub: Obama. Roberts proceeds with the swearing in and Obama jumps the gun before Roberts gets done. Second Flub: Roberts.

Watch the video here. What do you think?

Read the transcript from, and see our take, after the jump.

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Dahlia Lithwick Slate Senior Editor.jpgWe spent a fair amount of time last week in lovely Charlottesville, Virginia, where we spoke at the University of Virginia Law School (coverage of our talk appears here and here). We spent lots of quality time with UVA Law students — at dinner, at a karaoke bar, and walking around the beautiful grounds.

One of the highlights of our trip was attending a luncheon talk by the fabulous Dahlia Lithwick, who has covered the Supreme Court for Slate for the past ten years (and who also served as a celebrity judge on ATL Idol). Despite suffering from a nasty flu, she delivered remarks that were hilarious and insightful, shedding much light upon media coverage of the Court.

Read more, after the jump.

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LEWW champagne2.jpg
This installment of the wedding watch is a bit of a hodge-podge. We’ve got old people, Communism, Skadden, HLS, organized crime, a SCOTUS connection, and a midriff-baring bride. But the common thread, as always, is lawyers in love (though not necessarily with other lawyers; there’s just one dual-JD pair in this group).
Here are this week’s nominees:

1. Deborah Ellis and Hal Strelnick

2. Rachel Hershfang and Wesley Williams

3. Katherine Wagner-McCoy and Jacob Goldstein

4. Andrea Connor and Evan Hudson

More about these envy-inducing newlyweds, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 7.27 and 8.3: Steamy August Edition”

* Resignation in Detroit text-message scandal (previously discussed here). [Detroit News]
* A proud American tradition unknown in the rest of the world: bail for profit. [New York Times]
* Legal luminaries at the SOTU. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Trial begins in alleged microwaving of infant. [CNN]
* TRO against Patriots’ Moss extended until after Super Bowl. [SI]
* Mortgage crisis may affect litigation departments. [WSJ Law Blog]
* U.S. jails Colombian FARC leader. [BBC]

aileen mcgrath aileen marie mcgrath jason gillenwater jason e gillenwater.jpgIn October 2006, when LEWW reviewed her wedding, we wrote of Aileen McGrath (at right, with handsome hubby Jason Gillenwater):

Aileen is the President of the Harvard Law Review. HELLO!!! And this isn’t mentioned in the announcement, but we’ve learned that she’ll be clerking next year for Chief Judge Michael Boudin, of the First Circuit — feeder judge extraordinaire.

So, Aileen, have you picked which Supreme Court justice you’d like to clerk for?

She has. We’ve learned that Aileen McGrath (Harvard 2007 / Boudin) has accepted an offer to clerk for Justice Stephen G. Breyer in October Term 2008. One source tells us: “[S]he’s universally recognized as brilliant. She was president of the law review and a Sears Prize winner.”
We also hear that the fourth clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas for OT 2008 is a D.C. Circuit clerk (believed to be clerking for Judge David Sentelle). Will someone please give up the name?
Update: Her name is Claire Evans. She’s a 2002 graduate of Rutgers School of Law – Camden, and she’s the first alum of the school to score a SCOTUS clerkship. She clerked for Judge Jerome Simandle (D.N.J.) in 2003, and then for Michael Chertoff, back when he was still on the Third Circuit. Reports our source:

“Chertoff liked Claire so much that he took her to the Department of Homeland Security when he left the bench for Washington. Apparently, Claire continues to amaze and has now secured the most coveted of credentials — a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship.”

“[S]he holds the highest cumulative grade point average in the history of Rutgers School of Law – Camden. And, because of a grading change implemented the year after Claire graduated, it is now mathematically impossible for Claire’s epic GPA to ever be topped.”

Finally, expect more SCOTUS clerk hires in the near future. From an in-the-know tipster:

There’s movement among the justices now. At least Alito, Roberts, Kennedy & Breyer have scheduled interviews in the last few days. Kennedy has scheduled pre-screen interviews, at least some of which are with Judge Kozinski.

The current tally of OT 2008 Supreme Court clerks, with Aileen McGrath and Claire Evans added, appears after the jump.

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