Minority Issues

There’s something special about racism that comes out of Cambridge. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s almost like a stylized racism. Like, if it happened at Duke you’d just say “racism at Duke,” but when it happens at Harvard, you feel like saying, “A racial hypothetical puzzles the HLS community; stay tuned to see which professor makes it worse.”

Today we’ve got another weird racial story covered in crimson. It’s set against the backdrop of the student government elections at Harvard Law School that may take place later today — an event that I can’t imagine more than ten people on campus truly care about. But there are minority-on-minority accusations of racism, and the one white guy is just running to prove that he shouldn’t be allowed to run.

And, clear as I can tell, the catalyst was one breathless Harvard Law School Record article that kind of threw around allegations of racism just for the heck of it.

Are we going to tell you a little bit about the issues, so you can then vote on Above the Law for the next SBA president at HLS, in the hope that your votes might influence the election? Of course we are!

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Montana Chief Judge Richard Cebull

Montana Chief Judge Richard Cebull started the first day of the rest of his life today. The judge who sent around a racist and sexist email about Barack Obama and the president’s dead mother started the “damage control” process that will never really end.

Richard Cebull could emancipate slaves and everybody would still know he’s a racist. Obviously, his family and friends already knew he was racist, but now the general public gets to know. There’s nothing for it now. Whether or not he will still be allowed to have a job is pretty much all he can fight for.

And he is: he’s voluntarily asked the Ninth Circuit to review his conduct. And he’s written a letter of apology to President Obama — who is rapidly on his way to becoming the most poorly treated president in American history (even though the last one was openly thought to be mentally retarded, and the one before that was impeached for getting a BJ).

But we’ll get to all that. First, free of charge, I’m going to slow down long enough let everybody catch up to why the original letter was racist, and why sending the thing makes Cebull a racist, too….

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Is it right for a law school to send its students to tolerance camp? Mandatory tolerance camp? Mandatory tolerance camp, where unexcused absences will result in an intolerant notation placed in students’ permanent records?

When I came across the story of a state law school holding a “mandatory” diversity seminar that students were required to attend, my first instinct was to side with the students who objected to the required nature of the program. Generally, I’m not a fan of forcing people to be nice to each other, and you can’t force a man to change what’s in his heart. If students want to be racist or prejudiced to others in their community, that’s something that may demand an institutional response. But if some kids don’t think they’ll benefit much from “diversity training,” whatever that means, so be it.

But when the ABA’s committee on accreditation is telling law school administrators that the student body needs to work on its racial sensitivity, well, you can see how the law school is in a bit of a bind…

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Back in 2009, we wrote about a Title VII suit that a former associate filed against Mayer Brown. To make a long story short (read our prior posts for the full background), Venus Yvette Springs, an African American woman, alleges that the firm discriminated against her because of her race, and eventually fired her in 2008 during the height of layoff season.

Springs filed her complaint against the Biglaw firm more than two and a half years ago, and in the time since, both parties have filed lengthy motions for summary judgment. Springs, who apparently had some time on her hands, also filed a lawsuit against Ally Financial, claiming that she was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for her suit against Mayer Brown.

On Friday, a federal judge ruled on the motions, and we’ve finally got an update. Will this discrimination suit be allowed to proceed?

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If this guy wins the Republican nomination, we can agree that the Tea Party was totally overhyped, right?

* So, just so we’re all clear, Republicans running for President are no longer on board with the Voting Rights Act. Happy Martin Luther King Day. [Election Law Blog]

* It’s not like there are no more voting issues where we might want to have federal oversight of state laws that affect the electoral power of minorities in states that have been historically opposed to such things. For instance, where do your prisoners live for the purposes of redistricting? [New York Times]

* I’ll tell you what happens in a world where college kids can “major” in law and take the bar, yet law schools still exist: law schools will continue to operate as they have been, and “law majors” will be the new “must get” credentials for paralegals. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Every time I ask this question, I feel like a horrible person. But it’s a legitimate question: what are the legal ramifications when a race car driver dies while performing a sport that is only interesting because there’s a chance somebody will die? [Legal Blitz]

* Why won’t Mitt Romney show us his taxes? We just want to be envious, Mittens! Feed our envy. [Going Concern]

* I think I should be nominated for this public interest award. Nobody has done more to prevent lawyers from being taken advantage of than me. [American Constitution Society]

* Breaking down the Joe Paterno interview. [Atlantic]

* Now these are some guys that believe in the gold standard. [MyFoxDC]

* As Copyranter said when he emailed this link about the iPoo: “C&D coming in 3, 2, 1…” [Copyranter]

Johnathan Perkins

When it comes to the protagonists of 2011′s biggest legal stories, our readers want to know: Where are they now? Last week, for example, we brought you an update on Casey Anthony, which generated keen interest (and traffic).

The recent alleged misadventures of certain UVA Law School students — students accused of breaking and entering, students accused of bothering bikers (to be fair, some bikers are obnoxious and deserve what they get) — have caused commentators to wonder: Whatever happened to Johnathan Perkins?

Johnathan Perkins was the then-3L at UVA Law who confessed to fabricating a tale of racial harassment by university police. As a result of his dishonesty, did he have to go before UVA’s famously strict Honor Committee? Did he end up getting his law degree? There was some ambiguity over whether he would graduate.

We have an update, based on a statement from the dean of the law school….

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In Grammer Pole of the Weak, we typically tackle issues of English grammar and usage, as well as questions of style (in terms of legal writing, not fashion). Last week, we delved into the fun topic of em-dash spacing, and learned that our readers are essentially deadlocked on whether to use a space before and after an em dash. In the end, using spaces prevailed by a margin as narrow as Mitt Romney’s Iowa caucus victory.

Our latest grammar poll pertains to usage, but it has a political component to it as well. It touches on hot-button issues like affirmative action and racial preferences, about which our readers have passionate opinions.

The question, in a nutshell: What does it mean to be a “diverse” individual?

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Does George Will look like the protector of Black America to you?

People who think giving charity to those less fortunate also gives them the right to direct the personal choices of those receiving the charity are some of the worst people on the planet. The biggest offenders are religious organizations: “Ooh, here’s some food. Yes. You like food, don’t you? I bet you’re hungry — I can tell ’cause I can see your ribs. Well, it’s all you can eat in here… first, just say you accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. SAY IT. Wonderful. Bon appétit!”

Organizations do it all the time, but there are plenty of individuals who also think giving a guy a buck gives them the right to tell the recipient how to spend the money. This behavior is the worst because it takes what should be a generous gesture (giving somebody money) and turns it into a cheap way to make a BS point about your moral superiority (“If this man did just one thing more like me, he wouldn’t have to beg for my scraps.”).

If you want to help, help. But don’t use “helping” as an excuse to further some ridiculous personal agenda. You’ll just look like an idiot. You’ll just look like George Will prancing around the pages of the Washington Post trying to act like he is against affirmative action because he suddenly wants the Supreme Court to step up to the plate and “help” black people….

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There are a lot of unhappy lawyers. We all know that. Part of their discontent is due to the fact that many young people go to law school who may not want to be lawyers, or do not take the time during law school to figure out what type of practice best fits their personality and goals. It was for this reason that I was so excited to learn about Steven Harper’s class for pre-law students. Getting to potential law students before they take on an obscene amount of debt is one way to prevent accidental lawyers.

But what about those individuals who actually want to be lawyers, but due to certain biases are not able to pursue their dreams? The answer is the same: get to them in college….

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Remember Venus Springs? She’s the former Mayer Brown associate who alleged discrimination and filed a Title VII complaint against the firm after being fired in September 2008. Well, she’s back, and she’s brought a whole new lawsuit to the table.

So, who is Springs suing this time, and what are her allegations? We’ll give you that information, plus the details of the benchslap associated with her latest case, after the jump….

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