It’s often noted that the United States is governed by the world’s oldest written constitution that is still in use. This is usually stated as praise, though most other products of the eighteenth century, like horse-borne travel and leech-based medical treatment, have been replaced by improved models.
– Jeffrey Toobin, writing in the New Yorker about whether the current dysfunction of the federal government might be due, at least in part, to the Constitution.
(Additional notable quotes from his interesting article, after the jump.)
* A DWI attorney shows up to court drunk. Kicker? He was in the wrong courtroom. Still, the best way to defend a client is to stumble a mile in their shoes. [KRQE]
* A sitting appellate judge shares his poetic stylings. [Law Poetry]
* Here’s a brutally honest letter from a hypothetical senior Biglaw partner to a new associate. Since this week established that we need to point this out, this is a satirical letter. [Associate's Mind]
In a development that should surprise no one, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning agreed to review the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s signature policy achievement, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — aka Obamacare. This means that, before the end of the current SCOTUS Term in summer 2012, Anthony Kennedy the justices will rule on the validity of this sweeping legislation (unless they avoid the question on jurisdictional grounds, as Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit recently did — a path that might appeal to Justice Kennedy, as suggested by Professor Noah Feldman, and a path that the Court itself highlighted by mentioning the jurisdictional issue in its certiorari grant.)
In the meantime, there will be a lot of cocktail party chatter about the health care reform law and its constitutionality. If you’d like some quick talking points, for use when you get the inevitable “What do you think about this as a lawyer?” questions from friends and family at Thanksgiving, keep reading….
* The Southern District of New York: gay bench, or the gayest bench? Like fellow S.D.N.Y. nominee Paul Oetken, Alison Nathan is an openly gay lawyer who clerked for SCOTUS and served as an associate White House counsel. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly; Main Justice]
The justices are human — and the more we let them be human, the better job they will do. Let the unthinkable be said! If the medieval vestments are making people think the justices should be monks, then maybe, just maybe, we should to do away with those robes.
— Noah Feldman — professor at Harvard Law School, one-half of celebrity couple Feldsuk, and author of a new book about the Supreme Court — in a very interesting New York Times op-edpiece, criticizing the view that the justices can (or should) be completely divorced from politics.
While everyone spent the weekend talking about who bested whom in the McCain-Obama match-up, the New York Times magazine turned away from all that to focus on the really important policy makers in Washington: the Supreme Court. SCOTUS played cover model for Sunday’s NYT magazine, with HLS prof Noah Feldman’s lengthy piece, When Judges Make Foreign Policy.
We love the Star Wars-esque article preview: “When the next justice is appointed, our place in the world may well hang in the balance.” In case you didn’t get the magazine this weekend, and don’t feel like clicking through ten pages online to read it, we’ve got a rundown for you.
Feldman writes that the justices have become “the oracles of our national identity.” We like this analogy. The Greek oracles wore white. The Justices wear black. Advice seekers went to temples to consult Greek oracles. People go to the white gleaming temple at One First Street to address the Justices. The Greeks had hallucinogenic fumes rising from the earth, enhancing their prophetic powers. The Justices have caffeine and the sweet, sweet smell of the pages of the Constitution. But we digress.
Feldman says the defining issue of our time is globalization, and that SCOTUS wields incredible power as it establishes the place of the U.S. in the world through its rulings on international law. Listen up, law school folk, perhaps that international law class is not such a waste of time after all. Conservatives and liberals feel differently, of course, about how the Constitution applies internationally:
In recent years, two prominent schools of thought have emerged… One view, closely associated with the Bush administration, begins with the observation that law, in the age of modern liberal democracy, derives its legitimacy from being enacted by elected representatives of the people. From this standpoint, the Constitution is seen as facing inward, toward the Americans who made it, toward their rights and their security. For the most part, that is, the rights the Constitution provides are for citizens and provided only within the borders of the country…
A competing view, championed mostly by liberals, defines the rule of law differently: law is conceived not as a quintessentially national phenomenon but rather as a global ideal. The liberal position readily concedes that the Constitution specifies the law for the United States but stresses that a fuller, more complete conception of law demands that American law be pictured alongside international law and other (legitimate) national constitutions.
Feldman argues that new appointees for SCOTUS spots that are sure to open should be evaluated based on their thinking about the Court’s role in shaping American foreign policy. The SCOTUS newbies will determine whether the Constitution will be a shield, or will be a blanket shared around the global campfire while everyone sings Kumbaya.
We’re probably about to open a big ol’ can of worms. We’ve been procrastinating on writing this up for a while. But what the heck — opening up cans of worms is our job.
This past Sunday, the New York Times Magazine had a very interesting essay by celebrity law professor Noah Feldman. Here at ATL, he and his wife, fellow Harvard Law School prof Jeannie Suk, have reached a level of Brangelina celebrity that has entitled them to their own mono-moniker: Feldsuk (which you voted on, so you’re estopped from complaining).
Here’s the lede of Professor Feldman’s piece:
A number of years ago, I went to my 10th high-school reunion, in the backyard of the one classmate whose parents had a pool. Lots of my classmates were there. Almost all were married, and many already had kids. This was not as unusual as it might seem, since I went to a yeshiva day school, and nearly everyone remained Orthodox. I brought my girlfriend. At the end, we all crowded into a big group photo, shot by the school photographer, who had taken our pictures from first grade through graduation. When the alumni newsletter came around a few months later, I happened to notice the photo. I looked, then looked again. My girlfriend and I were nowhere to be found.
I didn’t want to seem paranoid, especially in front of my girlfriend, to whom I was by that time engaged. So I called my oldest school friend, who appeared in the photo, and asked for her explanation. “You’re kidding, right?” she said. My fiancée was Korean-American. Her presence implied the prospect of something that from the standpoint of Orthodox Jewish law could not be recognized: marriage to someone who was not Jewish. That hint was reason enough to keep us out.
Not long after, I bumped into the photographer, in synagogue, on Yom Kippur. When I walked over to him, his pained expression told me what I already knew. “It wasn’t me,” he said. I believed him.
Since then I have occasionally been in contact with the school’s alumni director, who has known me since I was a child. I say “in contact,” but that implies mutuality where none exists. What I really mean is that in the nine years since the reunion I have sent him several updates about my life, for inclusion in the “Mazal Tov” section of the newsletter. I sent him news of my marriage. When our son was born, I asked him to report that happy event. The most recent news was the birth of our daughter this winter. Nothing doing. None of my reports made it into print.
Many readers emailed us about this piece. The reactions of three of them appear after the jump.
In ATL’s March Madness, NYU currently enjoys a sizable lead over their uptown competition at Columbia. So they probably don’t need the electoral boost that might result from this delightful video, produced as part of the annual NYU Law Revue:
1. It’s all in the casting: “Columbia” is a brilliant choice. She’s the twenty-something, female embodiment of John Hodgman. If the whole “law” thing doesn’t work out for her, she should look into acting.
2. “Harvard” and “Yale” are super-cute!!! Of course, we’re assuming that in real life they are NYU law students (and perhaps future NYU law hotties).
3. The video includes a photographic cameo by one-half of FELDSUK. Awesome! (And we love how NYU has brilliantly spun Professor Noah Feldman’s high-profile defection to Harvard.)
Congratulations to the NYU Law crew that put together such an excellent video. Nice work, guys!
P.S. Did they get any help from their brilliant colleagues at NYU’s famous film school? Update: The answer to that question is no. A tipster tells us that the creator of the video is a mere law student, who produced this video without film school help. This source also adds:
The ad makes fun of NYU as well: we have no waitlist, and can’t use Macs for exams. The video turns against NYU.
We’ve already started using it, so this should come as no surprise. But just to make it official, we now declare FELDSUK the winner of our nickname contest for the fabulous Noah Feldman and Jeannie Suk (previously described as the “Brangelina of the legal academy”).
We tried to defend our initial nickname selection, “Noahjeannie”; but you were unpersuaded. The victory of “Feldsuk” was decisive:
The whole point of being a mono-monikered celebrity entity is that you get covered, and covered, and covered by the media. This coverage continues, long after the public claims to be sick of you and cries out for mercy.
But really they’re not sick of you. This is why Brangelina still moves magazines.
As for the Brangelina of the legal academy, Harvard Law profs Noah Feldman and Jeannie Suk, the jury is still out on what to call them. To vote in our nickname poll, click here.
But we DO know what to call the good professors’ recently acquired, $2.8 million house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Coldwell Banker has some suggestions: “Imposing,” “lovely,” “magnificent,” and “exceptional.”
We agree. Check it out:
If this reader comment is correct — and it appears to be, since various details match up with the New York Observer article (an 1873 Victorian with five fireplaces and a pool) — Professors Feldman and Suk will be taking up residence in the shown above. As you can see, it’s one nice pile o’ bricks.
Sometimes real estate listings get pulled after outside websites link to them. We hate it when that happens.
To preserve this information for posterity, we took a screencap of the original property listing. Check it out, after the jump.
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