Politics

Nigella Lawson

* “Those who support limits see the court right now as the T. rex from ‘Jurassic Park.’” Folks are pretty worried even more campaign finance laws will fall thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the McCutcheon v. FEC case. [New York Times]

* Skadden Arps and Simpson Thacher are at the top of their game when it comes to mergers and acquisitions. Both firms did very well in new deal rankings released by Bloomberg, Mergermarket, and Thomson Reuters. Nice. [Am Law Daily]

* Former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown has reportedly ditched Nixon Peabody to try his hand at a U.S. Senate run in New Hampshire. We hope he doesn’t lose his shirt again. Oh wait… [Boston Globe]

* As it turns out, the book in the Harvard Law library once believed to be bound in human skin is actually bound in sheepskin. Congrats, this is slightly less creepy. [Et Seq. / Harvard Law School Library Blog]

* Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson was turned away from a flight to the U.S. after her admission to coke usage in a trial. She should probably stop sticking her nose in other people’s business. [The Guardian]

After yesterday’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, where the Supreme Court found that aggregate contribution limits violate the First Amendment, campaign finance is back in the spotlight. In October, when the Court heard oral arguments for McCutcheon, I wrote about why I thought Shaun McCutcheon should prevail and why “rumors of democracy’s death are greatly exaggerated.” Others apparently still believe the rumors.

Something else this week delivered grist for the mill, as the country considers how political causes ought to be funded. Mozilla, the nonprofit foundation responsible for the Firefox browser and other open-source ventures, promoted Brendan Eich to CEO last week. California law required the public report of Eich’s 2008 contribution to the campaign to pass Proposition 8, the ballot measure amending the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. Prop 8, of course, eventually gave rise to the Supreme Court’s decision last term in Hollingsworth v. Perry. Eich’s financial support of Prop 8 has now given rise to a slew of woes for Eich and Mozilla.

Half of Mozilla’s board members quit, protesting a CEO with a history of activism against same-sex marriage. Some Firefox app developers decided to boycott Firefox projects until Eich is removed from his position. Twitter has been, well, atwitter with criticism.

Then, earlier this week, the dating site OkCupid rerouted all of its users accessing its site from a Firefox browser to a message that began, “Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience. Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.” The message goes on to read, “Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.”

OkCupid’s arrow struck deep. What Eich now faces raises questions about political expression and association, laws requiring disclosure of political contributions, and the consequences of both….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Cupid’s Arrow Strikes Eich: OkCupid, Mozilla’s CEO, And Campaign Finance Laws”

Chris Christie

At the end of the day, we will be judged by whether we got this right.

Randy Mastro of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, commenting on his firm’s investigation of the administration of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in connection with the George Washington Bridge scandal, aka “Bridgegate.” The Gibson Dunn report will apparently clear Christie himself of wrongdoing, but the governor’s political opponents question its objectivity.

At last night’s LeGaL dinner: Alex Levy (a 3L at NYU), Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and David Lat. (Photo by Jeff Trachtman.)

Last night, I had the great pleasure of attending the LeGaL Foundation Annual Dinner, which took place at Capitale here in New York. The mood was festive — which wasn’t surprising, given the successes of both LeGaL and the broader LGBT rights movement over the past year.

Here’s my account of the evening, a celebration of the Foundation’s 30th anniversary and an opportunity to honor some pioneers of the gay rights movement….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Congratulations To LeGaL On A Grand Gay Gala!”

Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Conestoga and Hobby Lobby cases, the high-profile challenges to the Obamacare contraception mandate. Many ordinary citizens wish they could tune in to the arguments on TV, or at least catch clips on the Daily Show nightly news. After all, how else can Americans access this valuable information that could change their lives forever? I mean, without an Upworthy piece or a Buzzfeed listicle?

Of course, serious folks make serious arguments championing televised coverage of Supreme Court arguments. UC Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky wrote an opinion piece this week, arguing that “[t]here is no excuse for keeping cameras out of the Supreme Court.” (Apparently, Chemerinsky wants cameras in and Justice Ginsburg out, for those keeping track of Chemerinsky’s wish list.) Earlier this month, the Coalition for Court Transparency, a group of press organizations and pro-transparency NGOs, sent a letter to Chief Justice Roberts, urging the Court to permit the video recording and broadcast of its courtroom.

So, what are opponents of cameras at One First Street so scared of? Do they worry that Chief Justice Roberts will start mugging for the camera? That Justice Scalia will insist on an added laugh track? That Justice Kagan will embark on a dangerous juice fast to slim down like a Hollywood starlet? (Actually, it looks like she already has.)

Those are not my concerns, but here is why I still think video coverage of U.S. Supreme Court arguments is a terrible idea….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Conservative Case For Keeping Cameras Out Of The Courtroom”

I don’t do politics in this column.

For two good reasons: First, Lat asked me to write about life as an in-house lawyer or, at a minimum, an in-house lawyer’s perception of outside firms. If I wrote about politics, I’d be way off the mark. Second, I work at the world’s leading insurance broker for law firms. If I wrote about politics — no matter which side I took — I’d offend half my readers. Some of those offended readers would complain to their brokers, and I’d soon have a phalanx of brokers with pitchforks storming my office door.

But I’m throwing caution (and Lat’s instructions about topicality) to the wind today, and I’m posing a question that struck me recently: Set your mind back to 1983, the year in which I graduated from law school. Suppose, in 1983, someone posed this question to you:

Look into the future. When will each of these events occur? (1) We’ll elect an African-American President of the United States; (2) states will begin legalizing gay marriage; and (3) states will begin legalizing the use of marijuana. Which will occur first, second, and third, and in what years?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Which Will Come First — A Black President, Gay Marriage, Or Legalization Of Marijuana?”

This week, Emad Abdullah Hassan, a Yemeni man held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002, renewed his legal effort to fight the policy of tube-feeding detainees on hunger strike in protest against their ongoing detention. Last month, the D.C. Circuit held that the federal courts have jurisdiction over cases where Gitmo detainees challenge the terms of their confinement, though the panel declined to enjoin the practice of forced feeding. (You can read the specific claims in Hassan’s case here.)

Nasogastric feeding, the method used with Gitmo hunger-strikers, is where medical staff deliver liquid nutrition directly to a patient’s stomach via a thin plastic tube inserted through the nose.

Critics call the forced feeding torture. Is it?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Who Cares If Gitmo Detainees Starve to Death?”

Back in November 2013, the U.S. Senate passed the so-called “nuclear option,” eliminating the threat of squelching the president’s executive branch and judicial nominations by filibuster. Under the new rules, a nominee only needs 51 votes to break a potential filibuster, instead of the 60 votes previously needed. Democratic senators lubricated nominees’ paths to confirmation. Finally, we were told, a cantankerous Republican minority could no longer block all the well-qualified, uncontroversial nominees that the president had waiting in the queue.

Nevertheless, yesterday the Senate voted to reject President Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. The 47 – 52 vote failed to reach the 51 votes necessary to achieve cloture and advance the nomination. Seven Democratic senators — Senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, John Walsh of Montana and Chris Coons of Delaware — opposed the nominee. Adegbile is perhaps best known for his work leading litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, often known simply as LDF.

No Republicans voted against their party line. Perhaps some of them opposed his nomination on principle; perhaps some reflexively opposed an Obama nominee. The Democrats who voted against Adegbile, however, took a clear and conscious against him. Effectively, Democrats killed Adegbile’s nomination.

Why? Despite his other professional accomplishments, Adegbile’s problems in the Senate can be summed up in a word: Mumia. In six words: convicted and controversial cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal . . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Welcome To The Post-Filibuster Senate: The Bipartisan Rejection Of Debo Adegbile”

* Upskirt photos not illegal in Massachusetts. The spirit of Kennedy lives on! [Mass Live]

* The investigation continues into whether Judge Mike Maggio, who might be the infamous Geauxjudge, suffers from a bad case of the Internet Crazies — but in the meantime, his campaign for the Court of Appeals took a hit. [Arkansas Times]

* Speaking of judicial ethics, Judge Kimberly Brown has been removed from the bench in Indiana. She’s only the third judge ever to be permanently removed from the job. [Indy Star]

* Wachtell Lipton partner Ricky Mason and his wife, Hoboken mayoral candidate Beth Mason, have been charged with several election-law violations. Uh-oh. [PolitickerNJ]

* Which state just ruled that you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in texting… even if you’re texting about a heroin deal? [IT-Lex]

* Dewey love the judge’s name in the Barclays suit over the dead firm’s debts? Yes. Because “Popplewell” is an awesome name. [The Lawyer]

* The data are in, and the top college grads have passed an all-important math test: they figured out law school is a bad deal. [Associate's Mind]

* Yet another Florida law school dean has stepped down. This is what happens when you take a job in a state full of retired people. [Daily Business Review]

* Obamacare has been credited — and bashed — for a lot, but are we underselling its role in reducing prison populations? [Sentencing Law and Policy]

To paraphrase Saiontz and Kirk, if you have a gun, you have a lawyer.

And not just any lawyer, mind you, but former Virginia Attorney General and 2013 Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. Last week, the Washington Post reported that Cuccinelli and three colleagues opened a small firm, named Virginia Self-Defense Law (VSDL). The firm launched with a bang, triggering pot shots heard round the blogosphere. As Joe Patrice explained earlier today, VSDL targets gun-toting Virginia residents with legal retainer plans, starting at $8.33/month, that promise representation for self-defense or law enforcement harassment situations that arise out of the use of firearms.

For those unfamiliar with Virginia politics, Cuccinelli’s controversial political views have given his critics plenty of ammunition. But politics aside, does Cuccinelli’s retainer plan hit the mark as a sustainable or ethical business model? Let’s scope it out….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Is A Virginia Small Firm’s $8.33/Month Self-Defense Retainer Plan A Hit Or Miss?”

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