John Roberts

The title is phrased like a joke, because this whole story plays like a joke: full of misunderstandings and dumb decisions. Hm. Typing that out made me realize that also describes most of the weekends of my adult life if you just add the phrase, “I’ll have another Manhattan.”

We set the stage for this joke in my home town of Portland, Oregon, and the campus of the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College. Last week, Chief Justice John Roberts visited the school to judge a moot court competition.

But the real controversy began after the Chief skipped town and the Dean started monkeying with the press coverage of the event — and blaming his actions on the Supreme Court…

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Despite his status as an Article III demigod, Chief Justice John Roberts is a man of the people. Instead of reclining on a divan while eating frozen grapes fed to him by eunuch law clerks, which is how I’d roll if I were the Chief Justice of the United States, JGR patronizes places like Cosi, Au Bon Pain, and Carmine’s.

And the chief even goes to Starbucks — where His Honor recently revealed something surprising about himself….

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Looking at my notes from today’s United States v. Windsor argument on DOMA at the U.S. Supreme Court, “$Q” is everywhere. That’s my shorthand for “money quote.” The merits part of the argument was $Q after $Q, moments that made an impact, in some cases if only to show where a justice might be headed.

Here are five. Look forward to bringing you more in-depth analysis of the argument in the next couple of days.

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The scene outside One First Street after the argument.

Dearly beloved, we were gathered together at SCOTUS today to argue about these fourteen words: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

But we talked a lot about standing. And we did a lot of standing.

What time did I get to the Court?

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He is a smart man. He is a good man. I believe he sees where the tide is going. I do trust him. I absolutely trust that he will go in a good direction.

Jean Podrasky, lesbian cousin to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, commenting on her hopes for her cousin’s thinking about the gay marriage cases being argued before the Supreme Court this week.

Nate Silver

As much as it pleases me to see statistical data introduced in the Supreme Court, the act of citing statistical factoids is not the same thing as drawing sound inferences from them.

Nate Silver, statistician extraordinaire, rebuking Chief Justice John Roberts’s use of statistics during oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, and noting that the voting ratios cited weren’t “meaningful in either a statistical or a practical sense.”

Will review documents for a sense of dignity?

* “Do you know which state has the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African American voter turnout? Massachusetts.” Sorry, Chief Justice Roberts, but the Bay State’s top elections official begs to differ with your assessment. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* This retired SCOTUS justice — the first woman to ever serve on the nation’s highest court — now refers to herself as “an unemployed cowgirl.” We wonder what Justice Scalia will refer to himself as in interviews after he retires. [Sacramento Bee]

* Mayer Brown wasn’t the only Biglaw firm that had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. Dorsey & Whitney’s 2012 revenue was also at a six-year low, but firm leaders think they can turn it around. [Star Tribune]

* Billion-dollar patent verdicts, so hot right now: 2012 was a “banner year” for for Biglaw firms representing winning clients, with K&L Gates leading the pack for the highest monetary award. [National Law Journal]

* “I wouldn’t want to be coming out of law school now.” Oh my God, you guys, the legal job market is still really tough for brand-spanking new law grads. This is new information that no one’s heard before. [Buffalo News]

A few years ago, I was covering some conservative legal or political conference where Ted Olson was scheduled to appear. At some point before his scheduled appearance, it was announced that he’d be unable to attend. It was chalked up to a scheduling conflict, but some wondered: had Olson withdrawn because of a fear that he’d be persona non grata? This was not long after he had filed the case that’s now before the U.S. Supreme Court as Hollingsworth v. Perry, and some conservatives were unhappy with the former solicitor general’s taking up the cause of marriage equality, viewing it as a betrayal.

Oh how times have changed. Now prominent Republicans are lining up to support the cause of marriage equality in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Yes, February 14 was almost two weeks ago. But on Thursday, a bunch of leading conservatives will send Justice Anthony M. Kennedy a valentine….

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It’s that time of year again! Time for all lawyers to tear themselves away from drinking at their desks and gather around a television to participate in an Above the Law drinking game.

Where else is there a drinking game focused on Justice Ginsburg AND Ted Nugent?

Remember to follow your Above the Law editors covering the speech via Twitter. See @ATLblog, @DavidLat, @ElieNYC, @StaciZaretsky, and @JosephPatrice (because a week after the fact, I realize it’s too difficult to tweet from my usual handle and have people realize who I am).

Unless otherwise noted, take a sip whenever these come up….

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Or lunch. Specifically, what Chief Justice John Roberts had for lunch yesterday, and where….

UPDATE (12:00 PM): And with whom JGR might have dined. See the update appended near the bottom of this post.

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