Law Professors

Does the Justice League know anything about justice?

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the New York Times profiled the most dork-tastic new blog: Law and the Multiverse: Superheroes, supervillains, and the law. The blog brings a legal focus to various superhero universes from comics and movies.

I have a few thoughts, in no particular order:

  • Wasn’t this the plot to the generally unwatchable Hancock? Doesn’t Will Smith goes into an alcoholic funk after he gets sued?
  • Wasn’t this also the set up of The Incredibles? They outlaw superheroes because of all the property damage they’re causing?
  • How long before the History Channel turns this blog into a television series? I say it’s out no later than the release date of the next Spiderman movie.
  • Speaking of Spiderman, did you hear that one of the actors in the Spiderman musical on Broadway fell out of the sky last night? It’s kind of horrifying, but you know: tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you.

Anyway, let’s take a look at these law dorks who have given up trying to ever impress a woman…

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[T]he supposed legal benefits of marriage are often illusory, and in any event they are probably more than offset by legally created burdens. Marriage confers fewer rights now, but still many obligations. The question for any mature couple then is simple: Why do it?

— Stanford law professor Ralph Richard Banks, in a Room for Debate post at NYTimes.com.

Late last night, Congress passed a compromise tax bill that will, among other things, cap the estate tax at 35% (with a $5 million exemption). If not for this compromise, the estate tax would have returned in 2011, at rates as high as 55 percent (with a $1 million exemption).

Hallelujah. Anytime you can save wealthy dead people millions of dollars during a time of crushing federal deficits, that’s something you just have to do. Way to go, Obama. When I voted for you in 2008, really I was just trying to vote for four more years of Bush’s ruinous fiscal policies.

Obama isn’t just saving money for all the dauphins eager to get their hands on their inheritances; he could be saving lives. Duke Law professor Richard Schmalbeck apparently thinks that rich old people might have killed themselves in droves over the next two weeks. Schmalbeck suggests that after spending a lifetime working hard and earning money, hundreds “or even a few thousand” of the aging rich might have committed suicide in the waning days of 2010, in order to pass on as much of their money to their children as they can before the estate tax returns in 2011.

I shudder to think that somebody would commodify their own life in such a way. But then again, I’m not rich. Maybe you only get rich in this country by being the kind of person who would gladly kill yourself if the price is right…

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Columbia professor David Epstein

I honestly can’t believe I have to do this, but apparently we need to argue about incest. Last week we told you about the Columbia political science (and adjunct law) professor, David Epstein, who is accused of having a sexual relationship with his 24-year-old daughter.

I’d hoped that most reasonable people would agree that incest is wrong and shouldn’t be allowed. But I’m dealing with lawyers and quite a few homophobes. I wasn’t exactly surprised that commenters made various Lawrence-based arguments and ridiculous connections between incest and gay sex.

And if the commenters are defending incest, you can best believe that Epstein’s lawyer is defending incest too…

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First of all, Happy Chanukah. May your candles burn bright.

It is certainly possible that some lowly internet hacker was trying to take advantage of some holiday compassion when he or she hacked the email of Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson. Nesson is a well-known figure in “internet and the law” circles — as well as to readers of A Civil Action, who know him as “Billion Dollar Charlie” — but today he’s just another victim of a phishing attack. An email went out to the HLS community this morning claiming that Nesson was stuck in the U.K. and in desperate need of money.

We can’t be sure if Nesson will be able to find and bring charges against the hacker, but let’s hope that if he does he isn’t forced to rely on HLS students for legal advice…

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A liveblog of what should be a most interesting debate on Prop 8 and gay marriage — taking place at the 2010 National Lawyers Convention of the Federalist Society, and pitting Professor William Eskridge against Professor Richard Epstein — after the jump.

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Harvard Law School professor and liberal intellectual icon Laurence Tribe is leaving the Department of Justice early because of symptoms related to his brain tumor.

(Oh, stop your gasping, it’s a benign brain tumor. I can make jokes about benign brain tumors in headlines.)

Tribe, a person who is most definitely as smart as he thinks he is, specifically highlighted his medical condition as the reason for his departure. Apparently he does not want anybody to think that he’s leaving because of his leaked letter to President Obama about Justice Sotomayor’s abilities. I’d imagine he also didn’t want to give the impression that he’s abandoning a president who is not nearly as liberal as many hoped he would be. (Or that he’s still mad over the elevator incident at the Georgetown Safeway.)

According to the HLS press release the tumor that will cut short his public service still allows him to teach at the second-best law school in the country….

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I am a lawyer by creation, but not by practice. I’m a lawyer technically, but I wouldn’t hire me to write your will.

– Columbia law professor Tim Wu, in an interview with the New York Times about his new book, The Master Switch.

Professor Charlie Nesson

Tomorrow, Jammie Thomas-Rasset goes to trial for a third time over her illegal downloads of 24 songs. As we’ve reported before, the music industry is determined to make an example of her, and tomorrow they’ll be fighting over damages the Thomas-Rasset should pay for stealing things valued at $1 on iTunes.

But what should and will happen to Jammie Thomas-Rasset is a substantive discussion for another day. Right now, I want somebody to tell me who holds the Guinness Book of World Records mark for quickest benchslap. Because District Judge Michael Davis just knocked around Harvard Law professor Charlie Nesson so quickly you wonder if the clerk pulled a hamstring trying to get everything filed in the correct chronological order…

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Home to the Lord of all law reviews, Gannett House on the HLS campus.

All law reviews are not created equal. We all know this.

But the prestige of your law review isn’t directly correlated to the prestige of your law school. One obvious case of that is the fact that the Harvard Law Review is widely considered to be the most prestigious law review, even though Yale has a better law school (according to U.S. News… and people who don’t like crowds).

Unfortunately, U.S. News does not rank law reviews — at least not yet. One day, U.S. News will rank everything from high school debate programs to cremation operations; for now, we are left with only our general assumptions about who has the best law review.

But not anymore. The good people at Concurring Opinions have found a website that puts together a fairly competent rating of the nation’s best law reviews. Finally, students who edit the best law reviews, and professors who publish in them, can point to a list when they are trying to use their prestige to pull digits at a bar.

And this list passes the smell test, which is to say it pretty much tells us what we already think we know…

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