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After the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petitions for certiorari in several leading same-sex marriage cases this week, media coverage exploded with headlines like “Legal Argument Over Gay Marriage Is All But Over.”  Advocates of LGBT rights seemed to view all future court action as a mere victory lap.  Sarah Warbelow, the legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, told the press, “It’s really hard to imagine the Supreme Court would have allowed thousands of same-sex couples to get married, including in some very conservative areas like Utah, and then turn around and say, ‘Just kidding, there’s nothing wrong with state bans.'”

Warbelow deserves some slack for her sanguine interpretation of this week’s news.  After all, she has a cause to promote.  And as a general rule, when SCOTUS declines to hear a case on a particular question, one might reasonably assume that they aren’t concerned with correcting the lower court’s treatment of the issue.  But this is hardly a routine legal matter.  Nothing emanating from First Street this week made the fate of same-sex marriage in America certain.  So, why are so many other observers acting as though the Court just handed the LGBT community a gift box of equal rights, neatly wrapped in denied cert petitions?  Why is there so much denial about what these cert denials mean?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “SCOTUS Denies Cert, World Denies Uncertainty”

Buck up, Professor. Your hero Nietzsche always says, ‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger.’

* Remember that whole Brian Leiter kerfuffle? Well he’s gone. The world (of philosophy rankings) was not ready for one as beautiful as thee. [Daily Nous]

* Before They Were Famous: Newly released documents reveal a pre-SCOTUS Justice Kagan writing memos admitting that she “really f**ked up” and “God, do I feel like an idiot.” At least she understood how she made her 1L class feel when she was a professor. [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* A lawsuit over who owns the word “how.” Can’t make this up. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* How do we know that driverless cars are going to be wonderful for human society? Because they will be absolutely horrible for lawyers and insurers. [Legal Funding Central]

* This guy explains what everyone should understand before going to law school by walking through his decision to not to go to law school despite gaining admission to some T14 heavies. He gives ATL a shout. We hear you buddy, congratulations on your decision. [Chronicle Vitae]

* A Delaware attorney sued for allegedly aiding and abetting a fraudulent emerald salvage operation. Kind of “X marks the disbarment.” [Delaware Online]

* Exxon won an arbitration and got $1.6B from cash-strapped Venezuela, but wanted $14.7B. Poor Exxon, they face so many struggles. [Bloomberg h/t Breaking Energy]

* The D.C. Bar Association is hosting a “Go Formal For Justice” event to raise money for its many programs to help, directly or indirectly, the indigent. [D.C. Bar Foundation]

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Megan Grandinetti challenges busy lawyers to practice positivity.

A few years ago, I was buried in work and traveling for business. I ran into a friend of mine on a train in Philly, and he spent the next hour listening to (a) how many hours I worked, (b) how much I hated what I was working on, and (c) how the people at my Biglaw firm had zero regard for my personal life (wait a second, WHAT personal life?). I remember being fairly detached and casual as I was talking about all of this (I did NOT burst into tears, per usual), but years later, my friend told me that after that conversation, he had put me on “suicide watch.”

About a year after the suicide watch train incident, I realized that I had become a person that I didn’t recognize: a whiny, angry, sad person who only saw the negative in everything. I decided to do a 40-day challenge, during which I gave up complaining. That’s right, I stopped complaining for 40 days.

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center…


To have all of this happen in such a safe and nice community, it’s just very shocking.

– Rena Karle of Abeles & Karle PLLC, a law firm located in Volusia County, Florida, commenting on a bizarre break-in that occurred at the office. Items stolen ranged from computer towers and monitors to Halloween candy and a Bible. Karle also noted that the floor, walls, and ceilings were covered in “some kind of white sticky goo.” Damages as a result of the break-in at the law firm have been assessed at $100,000 to $150,000 thus far.

In December, Steven Wise, founder and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, filed writs of habeas corpus on behalf of four chimpanzees he believed were wrongfully detained. Some scoffed at the idea — quips like “the law is going to the apes” or something about “appeals” and “banana peels” — but the facts were pretty bleak. One of the chimps, Tommy, is 26 years old and allegedly reduced to a life in “solitary confinement in a small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed” in upstate New York. Can you imagine more horrific conditions than upstate New York?

Seriously though, Tommy’s life sounds awful and a New York judge agreed. While admitting that he was unable to grant the order since, you know, the law doesn’t talk about chimps, Judge Joseph Sise conceded that Wise made a compelling argument. Yesterday, a five-member appellate panel heard Tommy’s case and depending on how they rule, they might just make a monkey out of Judge Sise. Is New York on the brink of a revolution in animal law?

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Not to get all originalist, but isn’t “government collecting evidence at random based on vague suspicion” exactly the scenario that the Framers of the Bill of Rights feared? Liberals — or at least liberals outside the White House — generally agree on this. Even conservatives are on board with this one. However, there is an alternative view. It may be too clever by half, but maybe the collection of phone data wasn’t really a search or seizure? Maybe it’s a “reasonable” search?

Some very smart people try to make the case that gobbling up phone data on all of us isn’t really a constitutional case. Let’s see if they convince you…

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It’s that time of year again. Disregarding the fact that there are 204 law schools that are currently accredited, either fully or provisionally, by the American Bar Association, the Princeton Review has released its annual law school ranking which covers only the best 169 law schools. Our condolences to the 35 law schools that were left in the dust — per the Princeton Review, you suck.

Once again, we decided to focus on one of the 11 rankings categories that we thought people would be the most interested in: the law schools where graduates have the best career prospects. Before digging in, you should be aware that here, “career prospects” means a law graduate’s ability to get a job — any kind of job — period. Perhaps the Princeton Review ought to consider changing its methodology to include data people actually care about, like whether these law schools are helping their graduates become lawyers.

There was quite a shake-up in the rankings this year. Did your law school make the cut?

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Social acceptance of gay marriage in the United States is often compared to social acceptance of interracial marriage. However, while interracial marriage was completely legal by 1967, majority approval of interracial marriage did not take hold until the 1990s. How does popular opinion of gay marriage today compare with the current legal status of gay marriage?

The genius at xkcd demonstrates how popular approval and legal status don’t always neatly track one another…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Stat Of The Week: Interracial Marriage vs. Gay Marriage”

Oh, “How To Get Away With Murder,” I just can’t quit you. Earlier this week, I was resolved that the legal inaccuracies were too great to continue watching, but here I am again on a Thursday night. Sure, this time I’ve had the foresight to arm myself with a bottle of whiskey I’m mixing with haterade. But the internet is vast and there are recaps aplenty, so I am focusing on the legal inaccuracies — actually that could turn into a treatise, so let’s just focus on the big whoppers.

Spoilers after the jump…

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It’s time to yell back at a notorious loudmouth.

Former NSA head Keith Alexander — the original Million Dollar (a month) Man and premier cybersecurity consultant to the banking industry — is taking his years of expertise (and several mysteriously non-public patents) on the road, speaking at whatever venue will have him.

He recently delivered remarks at MIRcon in Washington, explaining exactly how simple it is for Americans to avoid the sort of domestic surveillance they always assumed they’d never have to worry about (you know, because of the Constitution and its various amendments, etc.). And remember, this man is asking $1 million a month to rent his brain….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Former NSA Head Says You Can Avoid Government Spying By Using This One Simple Trick”

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