Paul Clement

It is hard to beat Nirvana’s “Complete Sub Pop Singles.” And I’m a big fan of the Kooks. It’s very catchy and a little less loud than Nirvana and a little more family-friendly.

Paul Clement, the former Solicitor General and current Bancroft partner who argued Obamacare in the Supreme Court, discussing his musical tastes with the New York Times.

(Additional fun facts, plus a link to the full interview, after the jump.)

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They say that March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb. And in the case of last month’s legal happenings, that saying held true for the most part. Because even stuttering lambs are still gentle creatures, right?

All in all, March was filled with excitement (of the sexual variety) and disappointment (of the layoff variety) for lawyers. We even got a lesson in how to (and how not to) argue before the Supreme Court.

So who are our nominees for March’s Lawyer of the Month competition?

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Carter Phillips

After the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the constitutionality of Obama’s healthcare overhaul last week, we discussed the case with veteran Supreme Court litigator Carter Phillips. Phillips, the managing partner of Sidley Austin‘s Washington, D.C. office, is a renowned Supreme Court litigator. He has argued 75 cases in front of the high court, more than any other attorney in private practice.

Check out our conversation below. He had a lot of insightful comments about the performances of Paul Clement and Donald Verrilli, the mind of Justice Anthony Kennedy, and even a few jokes…

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Isn’t it funny that if you refuse to buy food, the government won’t force you to buy any — broccoli or otherwise? But when you show up at the hospital dying of starvation, the government will give you health care even if you haven’t paid for it.

Sorry, I know it’s foolish for me to inject 21st century policy concerns into Scalia’s 18th century hypothetical.

Obamacare supporters are still licking their wounds from getting smacked around by SCOTUS yesterday. I don’t know why anybody is surprised. You’ve got four staunchly conservative justices and one pretty conservative justice that gets called a “swing vote” because the Court has lurched so far to the right since he was appointed, and you’re going in front of them with a massive use of the interstate commerce power. You think they care that past precedents that they don’t agree with say they should uphold the law? You think they want to give Obama a victory any more than Republicans in Congress wanted to support the Republican approach to health care once Obama adopted it? This was always going to be an uphill battle with this Court.

That’s not Don Verrilli’s fault. People need to stop yelling at this man. No, he wasn’t as witty as Paul Clement. Do we really think that whether or not Anthony Kennedy wants us to have health care will turn on Verrilli’s ability to spit out a one-liner? If liberals want to blame somebody, it’s not Don Verrilli; blame the spineless way Congress and the President abandoned single-payer. That’s why we’re here folks. We sent Verrilli into a conservative lion’s den with a liberal piece of meat hanging around his neck, and now we’re criticizing the way he ran around, screaming for his life. That’s not right.

But anyway, that was yesterday and “reading the tea leaves” from oral arguments takes way more time than looking at the political agendas of each of the justices. Let’s move on to today’s arguments. The Court will consider whether the Affordable Care Act can survive if the Court strikes down the individual mandate part, and whether the expansion of Medicaid coverage amounts to government coercion….

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Today was the big day: the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act was argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s always fun when nine unelected people get to decide whether Congress and the president get to do what the American people elected them to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been listening to CSPAN 3 take calls from “real” Americans about the constitutionality of health care, and let me tell you: Americans are incredibly stupid. On both sides. Christ on Phonics, I don’t even know if some of these people are able to read. Nine unelected arbiters looking at this is at least as legitimate as millions of freaking idiots having a clap-off to figure out how to administer health coverage for millions of people.

Did I say nine people will decide this issue? That’s not entirely accurate, is it? Aren’t we really talking about one guy?

They’re replaying the audio from today’s arguments on CSPAN 3. Too bad there’s no video… I want to see the gifts of frankincense and myrrh that Solicitor General Don Verrilli and Paul Clement brought for Justice Anthony Kennedy.

But what’s really interesting today is to see whether all these ideologically conservative judges will actually take a conservative judicial approach and show deference to the legislature.

Not that I’m holding my breath….

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Paul Clement

* If defending unpopular clients is cool, consider Paul Clement Miles Davis. He’s the lead lawyer in three politically charged cases going up before SCOTUS in the new year. [LA Times]

* Joe Arpaio’s going to have a tough time racially profiling Hispanics in 2012. What’s a man to do without verification powers and the ability to detain people on suspicion alone? [WaPo]

* A summary of the NLJ’s 2011 year in review round-up: all of this was a preview of what’s to come in 2012. And what’s to come? Same sh*t, different docket number. [National Law Journal]

* C&F fail: the California Supreme Court is busy worrying about Stephen Glass, a guy who took his “creative writing” efforts a bit too far. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* The Hollywood actress suing IMDb for revealing her age has to reveal much more thanks to this ruling. She’s got two weeks to amend her complaint to include her name. [The Wrap]

* “Oh my God, the law school has gone crazy.” Don’t blame the messenger, but UVA Law’s headlines on ATL are totally self-inflicted. Here’s Elie’s take on the collar-poppin’ action. [C-VILLE]

* Larry Ribstein, partnership law guru, business law blogger, and Associate Dean for Research at the University of Illinois College Law, RIP. [Truth on the Market]

* Robert Morvillo, New York trial lawyer and white-collar defense pioneer, RIP. [WSJ Law Blog]

* John Lawrence, plaintiff in the landmark LGBT rights case of Lawrence v. Texas, RIP. [NY Times]

Justice Kavanaugh has a nice ring to it.

* Searching for the perfect holiday present? Via Professor Glenn Reynolds: “As A Christmas Gift, Tell Your Friends and Relatives They’re Fat.” [Instapundit]

* If a Republican wins the White House in 2012, who might get nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court? Mike Sacks offers up a star-studded SCOTUS short list: the brilliant and genial Brett Kavanaugh, the fabulous Diane Sykes, certified superhottie Jeffrey Sutton, emerging feeder judge Neil Gorsuch, and star litigator Paul Clement. [Huffington Post]

* Another proposal on law school transparency. What is this “gainful employment” of which you speak? [Law School Transparency]

* If you can’t find gainful employment, well, maybe you can score a $500 reward from a concerned parent. [The Legal Satyricon]

* Speaking of Marc Randazza, here’s an interview in which he discusses “putting the nail in copyright holding company Righthaven’s coffin.” [WebmasterRadio.FM]

* A riddle from Eric Turkewitz: How is Indiana just like the old Soviet Union? [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* An interesting profile (by Peter Lattman) of Albert Foer — father of the three famous Foer brothers, and a celebrated and successful antitrust law crusader. [DealBook / New York Times]

Justice Elena Kagan

The latest issue of New York magazine contains a very interesting profile of the U.S. Supreme Court’s newest member, Justice Elena Kagan, penned by Dahlia Lithwick. Here’s the bottom-line summary of the piece (via Ezra Klein):

“While Kagan is assuredly a liberal, and likely also a fan of the health-reform law, a close read of her tenure at the Supreme Court suggests that she is in fact the opposite of a progressive zealot. By the end of Kagan’s first term, conservatives like former Bush solicitor general Paul Clement (who will likely argue against the health-care law this coming spring) and Chief Justice John Roberts were giving Kagan high marks as a new justice precisely because she wasn’t a frothing ideologue. The pre-confirmation caricatures of her as a self-serving careerist and party hack are not borne out by her conduct at oral argument, her writing, and her interactions with her colleagues. In fact, if her first term and a half is any indication, she may well madden as many staunch liberals as conservatives in the coming years.”

That’s just the overview. Let’s delve into the details a bit more….

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The president looks good in a doctor's coat, no?

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….

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He has really run the table of conservative causes. Paul is such a good advocate and such a cheerful friend that it’s easy to forget how conservative he is.

Walter Dellinger, former acting Solicitor General during the Clinton Administration, commenting to the New York Times about Paul Clement, former Solicitor General during the Bush Administration.

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