John Roberts

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?”

MSNBC.com 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 MSNBC.com, 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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: OT 2008 (Update #7)”

Clarence Thomas book My Grandfather's Son Above the Law blog.jpgWelcome. If you’re at home, tune in to C-SPAN, which is rebroadcasting the recent book party for Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Thomas’s eagerly anticipated memoir, My Grandfather’s Son, is now in bookstores — and topping the bestseller charts (to the relief of his publisher, HarperCollins, which reportedly paid him a $1.5 million advance).
7:05: The party is being held at the elegant, red-brick Capitol Hill home of radio host and syndicated columnist Armstrong Williams. Expected to attend: 250 guests, including six Supreme Court justices, Vice President Dick Cheney, and several U.S. senators.
Armstrong Williams is interviewed. He explains that the party has been in the works since June. An overwhelming turnout is expected; more people were turned away than allowed to attend.
7:08: Justice Thomas climbs the stairs. When he enters the kitchen — which is right at the top of the stairs, and thus (oddly) where everyone enters and exits — he’s greeted by hearty applause.
Various guests hug him. One guest gushes over his 60 Minutes appearance. CT explains that CBS News made no promises about the nature of its coverage. Interesting. Considering how flattering that segment was, and how uncritical Steve Kroft was in his questioning of Justice Thomas, one might have suspected that Brangelina-type stipulations were in place.
More after the jump.

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LEWW logo.jpgSo LEWW was at a wedding the other weekend, and who should plunk down next to us but a reporter for the NYT Vows section! It was a deeply emotional, humbling experience — like being face-to-face with Gandhi, or Bono — but after we recovered, we waved our ATL press credentials and had a nice chat with the correspondent.
Turns out it was her first Vows column, so we briefed her on the most basic rules of Vows column writing: Make sure you refer to the bride, groom, or both as “honest,” “courageous,” “spirited,” or “down-to-earth,” etc., and definitely include at least one forced simile (“as white as a sun-bleached seashell” is good; “as grounded and unshakable as a redwood” is a two-fer!).
We can’t wait to read about that wedding in this coming weekend’s NYT, but in the meantime, we have two weeks worth of LEWW to catch you up on. Here are our featured couples:

1.) Kate Edmonds and Alex Donner
2.) Denise Delgado and Keith Kerman
3.) Fell Ogden and Charles Gray Jr.
4.) Daisy Wademan and Luc Dowling
5.) Deecy Gray and Douglas Ginsburg
6.) Aielleen Fajardo and Stefan Schick

More about these couples, after the jump.

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Harriet Miers Harriet E Miers Harriet Ellan Miers Harriet Elan Miers Above the Law.JPGSigh. Too much to write about, not enough time (or energy). We should have written about this on Tuesday. But since we didn’t, we now have the luxury of assembling a post by commenting on what other people have already written — and snarkily noting that they all say the same thing.
It all started with this article from the Washington Post (via the Huffington Post):

It was John G. Roberts Jr., now the chief justice of the United States, who suggested [Harriet] Miers to Bush as a possible Supreme Court justice, according to the [new] book [Dead Certain, an examination of the Bush presidency, by Robert Draper].

Miers, the White House counsel and a Bush loyalist from Texas, did not want the job, but Bush and first lady Laura Bush prevailed on her to accept the nomination, Draper writes.

Sounds juicy, right? But not so fast.
If you’re already familiar with this controversy, you can probably skip the rest of this post. But if not — or if you are, but want some commentary on the commentary — you can read more after the jump.

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Porter Wilkinson J Harvie Wilkinson Above the Law blog.jpgNot too long ago, we said we had a “gut feeling” that some Supreme Court clerk hiring was going on (despite the Court being in recess). We were right.
Meet Porter Wilkinson. And don’t hate her because she’s beautiful. Or brilliant. Or rich. Or the daughter of a top feeder judge and frequent Supreme Court short-lister, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson (4th Cir.).
Or, for that matter, a future Supreme Court clerk. We hear that Judge Wilkinson’s daughter — yes, Porter is a girl’s name, if you’re a WASP — just landed an October Term 2008 clerkship with Chief Justice John Roberts. Congratulations, Porter!
Not surprisingly, we hear that the young Ms. Wilkinson is fairly conservative — in case you couldn’t have guessed that from the fact that she’s currently clerking for Judge Brett Kavanaugh (D.C. Cir.) (alongside the lovely, and recently married, Zina Gelman).
And where did we hear about Porter’s politics? From Judge Wilkinson himself!
In late July, we attended the excellent national convention of the American Constitution Society, in Washington, DC. Judge Wilkinson was on one of the panels. In thanking the ACS for inviting him, he noted that his son is a member of the liberal organization — but that he’s balanced out by his sister Porter, a card-carrying member of the Federalist Society. We bet the Wilkinsons must have interesting dinner table conversations.
Porter Wilkinson continues the trend of fathers and daughters who both clerked for the Court (as noted by Tony Mauro). See here.
Update: A tipster tells us, “FYI, Porter was an All-American lacrosse player at UNC. See here. Her husband [Christian Cook] was lacrosse Defenseman of the Year at Princeton and three-time national champion. Formerly of the Secret Service. See here. They got married this past summer in Charlottesville.”
With Porter Wilkinson added, the current list of OT 2008 clerks thus far appears after the jump.
Graduation Awards: Four in the Class of 2007: Porter Wilkinson [Virginia Law]
Carter Phillips’ Kin Is Alito Clerk [Legal Times]

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