Politics

What’s all the fuss with Trinity Western law school? For those who don’t know, Trinity Western is a private university in British Columbia. Its stated mission is to change lives “through its whole-person, Christ-centred approach to education.”

We don’t have very many religious four-year colleges and universities. Trinity Western is one of the few I can name. The U.S., of course, has a long history of religion-affiliated colleges. The Catholics have Loyola-here and Loyola-there, the Jews have Brandeis and Yeshiva, Muslims have Zaytuna, the Protestants have Bob Jones, etc.

Trinity Western is our country’s Bob Jones. Every student has to sign a long covenant (we’ll call it “The Covenant”) that includes the following promise:

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Eric Holder

Now that Eric Holder has announced his departure as attorney general, talk has turned to who his successor will be — and should be. Early buzz has centered around Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, but there are other compelling candidates as well, including lots of legal luminaries that Above the Law readers will recognize.

Who will be our nation’s next AG? And who should be the next AG? Let’s discuss….

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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

If there was one decision I would overrule, it would be Citizens United. I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be.

– Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, explaining the reasons why she thinks Citizens United was one of the worst Supreme Court decisions of recent times, after being asked her opinion in a wide-ranging interview with Jeffrey Rosen of the New Republic.

(What do you think is the worst SCOTUS ruling in recent memory? Tell us.)


She’s not a porn star, she’s a law student. We could see where you might be confused by that one.

* Now that we know Eric Holder is resigning, there’s been speculation as to where he’ll go next. The obvious choice is a return to Covington & Burling, but he could still surprise everyone. [National Law Journal]

* “Judicial campaign cash is burning a hole in the Constitution.” State court judges are pumping money into their election campaigns, and some have been left to wonder about its true price. [New York Times]

* Details have emerged as to conditions that must be met for Bingham McCutchen’s proposed merger with Morgan Lewis: partner promises, de-equitizations, and forgivable loans, oh my! [Reuters (sub. req.)]

* In the wake of Dean Makau Mutua’s decision to step down at Buffalo Law, a “deep rift” among faculty has been brought to light. The school’s future doesn’t seem as “bright” as we were once told. [Buffalo News]

* A former law student who was falsely identified as a porn star on the radio had her day in court and pulled out a win. Here’s the money shot: she’s walking away with $1 million in damages. [Kansas City Star]

President Obama formally announced the resignation of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this week. Filling the position ordinarily poses a political challenge, but installing Holder’s successor will be particularly rancorous. And we have Eric Holder himself to thank for that.

With Congressional midterm elections weeks away, confirmation hearings for a new AG any time soon seemed unlikely at first. However, Senator Patrick Leahy (D – VT), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced that he intends to urge the confirmation process onward. “Definitely, we should have confirmation hearings as quickly as possible in the Senate,” Leahy told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. Changes to Senate rules allow debate to end over executive and judicial branch nominees (except for nominees for Supreme Court vacancies) with a simple majority vote, rather than a supermajority of 60 votes. At least until the January 2015 session, when the Senate can revisit the rule change, Senators cannot filibuster the vote on Eric Holder’s potential successor. No matter what shifts occur after the upcoming elections, Republicans hold only 45 seats in the Senate until January 2015. So, Democrats acting quickly hold an advantage. However, Democratic senators facing dicey election contests may not be enthusiastic about their party’s push for hearings before the election.

The AG confirmation process opens a new battlefield in the war between supporters of President Obama and his critics. The battle to confirm Eric Holder’s successor promises to be messy. Senate Republicans will treat the process as a referendum on everything President Obama has done — possibly everything his critics suspect he might want to do. Washington politics makes this sort of fight possible. The timing of Holder’s resignation, a few weeks ahead of Congressional midterm elections, makes this plausible. But Eric Holder himself made this battle necessary.

So, how did Holder generate so much bad blood?

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* A list of lawyers who followed their passions. Let’s be honest: I just like that Lat’s in the same listicle as Jerry Springer. [One 400]

* Another report on the Brian Leiter kerfuffle (by Professor Jonathan Adler). [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Postal carrier hoarded 40,000 pieces of mail. Newman! [The Smoking Gun]

* Another court allows service via Facebook. [Peter S. Vogel]

* Eric Holder is resigning. Time for the speculation that he must have done something awful to begin! [New York Observer]

* D.C. lawyer Ronald Goldfarb reviews John W. Dean’s new book (affiliate link) about the Nixon tapes. [Washington Independent Review of Books]

A Chick-fil-A meal (photo by David Lat).

Joe here. You’re minding your own business, checking your law school email in lieu of listening to the lecture, when an invitation catches your eye. It’s from the local Federalist Society chapter and they’re hosting an event on marriage equality. Fed Soc puts on good events, and unlike a lot of the issues out there, marriage equality is an issue where the organization might have a fair and respectful debate. After all, this is the organization of Ted Olson and Richard Posner as much as it’s the organization of Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito. There’s room under that ideological tent. But you open the email to see an oversized Chick-fil-A logo. Shock jock tactics.

To say that Staci and I disapproved would be an understatement.

Now imagine the event were not about marriage equality. Would it be acceptable to serve Chick-fil-A at a talk on gun control? On eminent domain? Is there ever a time where Chick-fil-A is a “content neutral” noshing option?

I say no. David says yes. We let you in on our argument about this….

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NPR has a breaking scoop. Sources report that Attorney General Eric Holder will announce his resignation today.

Holder is one of the longest-serving members of Obama’s cabinet. People have called him the most “racially divisive” AG in history. In related news, he’s also African-American, a fact that has really seemed to piss some people off.

It’s been a few weeks without a manufactured “scandal” landing on his desk, so maybe now is a good time to go back to private practice and make millions of dollars?

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Insider trading tastes delicious!

* Politics and Biglaw just don’t mix: House Republicans hired Quinn Emanuel to handle their suit against President Barack Obama after Baker Hostetler withdrew from the representation due to “political pressure” the firm was facing. [Politico]

* The paper and napkin-eating “Middleman” in the post-it note insider trading ring pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges. This might make it difficult for his cohorts to substantiate their not-guilty pleas. [DealBook / New York Times]

* “This is a tale with no shortage of knaves or villains.” If you’re interested in learning about Chevron’s legal wranglings in Ecuador and with plaintiffs attorney Steven Donziger, there are a bunch of interesting new readings for you to peruse. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Crisis in legal education be damned! They may have bad timing, but these law schools are focusing on building bigger and better facilities for students they’re unable to put in their seats. [National Law Journal]

* Ohio law schools have taken a bruising in terms of decreased enrollment, but the University of Toledo has faced the worst of it. With a 25.9% reduction in 1Ls, tuition cuts can only do so much. [Toledo Blade]

Voters in Scotland decided yesterday that they will remain a part of the United Kingdom, instead of establishing a fully independent nation. Secession, even if narrowly avoided, is no mean matter. If the U.K. now makes good on its pre-plebiscite promises, constitutional change is on its way in the form of plans to devolve more power to Scotland in exchange for the “No” vote on total independence.

Before the referendum, advocates from both sides tried to convince the Scots. Celebrities chimed in. For example, Scottish actor Brian Cox, who now lives in the United States, rallied for Scottish Independence. Cox appeared in “Braveheart,” Mel Gibson’s film about the First War of Scottish Independence. (This fact may seem irrelevant to his authority on matters related to contemporary world politics, but it got mentioned in virtually every news bit about Cox’s current stance. No word yet on what Chris Cooper, actor from Gibson’s “The Patriot,” thinks about the current state of American independence.) President Obama tweeted in favor of U.K. unity, writing, “The U.K. is an extraordinary partner for America and a force for good in an unstable world. I hope it remains strong, robust and united. -bo” (Was the omission of an Oxford comma after “robust” a hidden message, though? A silent nod to the Scots?) Ordinary Scottish citizens tried to convince their peers, with many supporters of independence feeling confident before the votes were tallied. When asked by a reporter whether he thought that many of the apparent undecided voters simply did not want to admit that they intended to vote against independence, one man replied, “Ach no. You can tell No voters straight off. They’re the ones with faces like a bulldog that’s chewed a wasp.” (Feel free to imagine this response uttered in the voice of Groundskeeper Willy.)

Seen even a couple of months ago as improbable, Scottish independence gained momentum in the weeks before the vote. British officials grew nervous. David Cameron, desperate not to go down as the British prime minister who lost Scotland for the Kingdom, pledged more and more autonomy. Brits and Scots began referring to the most extreme devolution settlement proposal as “Devo Max.” The name Devo Max sounded like a Mark Mothersbaugh revival project. The tone of Devo Max sounded like a spurned spouse offering an open relationship to straying partner. The terms of Devo Max sounded unclear. And like so many compromises over constitutional authority and political independence, Devo Max focused heavily on who gets control of the purse strings….

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