Politics

* Stop bullying the judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. They don’t cave to just any government data request — they make changes to about 25 percent of them. But uh… they don’t like to talk about the other 75 percent. [Bloomberg]

* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the number of Biglaw firms with failing grades for diversity. Hunton & Williams, Patton Boggs, and Thompson Coe are by far the worst offenders of all 19 large firms, with ZERO minority partners. [Texas Lawbook]

* A contract attorney is currently facing criminal charges for felony overbilling (which isn’t actually a real crime, but it’d be cooler if it was… plus it would make lots of lawyers from DLA Piper cry). [Radio Iowa]

* Well, at least one school got the message about the tuition being too damn high. Iowa Law is reducing tuition for out-of-state students by about $8K in the hopes of filling more seats. [Des Moines Register]

* Amanda Knox, more commonly known as Foxy Knoxy, says that she’s no “femme fatale,” but she’s being portrayed, again, as a “sex-obsessed she-devil” after already being acquitted of murder. [Reuters]

* Fashion designer Christian Louboutin was seeing red over the use of his trademark red soles in anti-Islam political messages, so he sued over it, and this time, he won. Rejoice, fashionistas! [New York Magazine]

Do you ‘Like’ weird stories? Keep reading.

It’s a bizarre tale. Here’s what happened, according to law enforcement allegations.

On a Facebook page called UW Crushes, where University of Wyoming students could post anonymous, flirtatious notes to one another, the following posting appeared: “I want to hatef**k Meg Lanker Simons so hard. That chick runs her liberal mouth all the time and doesn’t care who knows it. I think its so hot and makes me angry. One night with me and shes gonna be a good Republican b**ch.”

The post attracted national attention — and outrage. A rally against “rape culture” took place at UW. University officials condemned the incident and launched an investigation.

Then things got… weird. After conducting an investigation, police came to the conclusion that the “hatef**k” posting was written by none other than Lanker-Simons herself. Lanker-Simons got charged with a misdemeanor count of interfering with a peace officer, arising out of her alleged obstruction of the investigation. According to the Laramie Boomerang, Lanker-Simons will plead “no contest” very soon.

And now the story has a connection to the legal profession: the alleged hoax artist is going to law school. Because of course she’s going to law school. Legal education is, after all, a popular option among murderers, bank robbers, perpetrators of hate crimes, and other colorful characters.

So where is she enrolled? Might she be your classmate?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Student Of The Day: Alleged Social-Media Hoaxer”

Sit up and take notice, Your Honor.

Justice Ginsburg overstated her case. If judicial activism is defined as the tendency to strike down laws, the court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is less activist than any court in the last 60 years.

Adam Liptak, the Supreme Court correspondent of the New York Times, summarizing recent research into judicial behavior.

Sometimes the greatest truths are revealed in the most frivolous things. At least this guy hopes so. After the Atlanta Braves[1]
lost the NLDS, he hopped on his computer and drafted a full letter to Representative Jack Kingston of Georgia complaining about the result and begging for government intervention to set things right.

I mean, can’t something be done to hijack the results of the last contest?

You see where he’s going with this. The letter carefully — and comically — exposes the insanity of the government shutdown that Kingston enthusiastically supports.

And then Kingston responded with a letter that was, um, not as clever….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “This Lawyer Writes To Congress About Baseball And Exposes The Shutdown In The Process”

This week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC. In McCutcheon, the Court will rule on whether certain campaign finance restrictions violate the First Amendment. ATL’s Joe Patrice offered his thoughts on the oral arguments yesterday. Today, I offer an alternative perspective.

Currently, byzantine election laws restrict the total political contributions that a person can make in a two-year period, as well as the number of candidates a person can contribute the maximum amount to. The plaintiff, Shaun McCutcheon, is a suburban Alabama businessman, the owner and founder of an electrical engineering firm. McCutcheon wanted to contribute $1,776 (a very patriotic sum, indeed) to 27 candidates across the country. Each of those individual contributions in isolation was legal, falling below the $2,600 maximum amount allowed for individual contributions. Yet, had McCutcheon done so, his total contributions would have run afoul of the maximum total allowed, currently $48,600.

Supporting political causes and candidates of your choice is an exercise of your First Amendment rights. Like all constitutional rights, though, it is subject to an overriding compelling governmental interest. In the case of campaign finance restrictions, your speech rights are trumped by the government’s interest in preventing political corruption or the appearance of political corruption.

Here, McCutcheon was expressing his political values, innocently — even laudably — participating in the democratic electoral process as he contributed up to 2600 bucks to individual candidates . . . until he supported one candidate too many. Suddenly, the First Amendment no longer safeguards his political expression. Suddenly, the threat of corruption or the appearance of corruption is so great that democracy just cannot stand if Shaun McCutcheon is allowed to give a penny more to support a candidate who shares his values….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Rumors Of Democracy’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated: Why McCutcheon Can Be A Good Thing”

Supreme Court arguments are off and running, and the Supremes wasted no time in getting to the fun stuff. In this instance, it’s McCutcheon v. FEC, the case billed as Citizens United II: Electric Boogaloo. The conservative wing of the Court is expected to side with McCutcheon in its continuing war to make American elections safe for multi-millionaires.

Anyway, the oral argument was marked by the usual humorous sniping amongst the justices and lots of fun exchanges where counsel and the conservative justices worked overtime to subordinate reality to ideology. Up to and including Justice Scalia arguing that $3.5 million isn’t that much money for one individual to spend on an election.

Here are 3 immediate, largely stream-of-consciousness thoughts based on reading the transcript (available at the end of the post) coming out of this oral argument:

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “McCutcheon Oral Argument: Or, Justice Scalia Explains How $3.5 Million Isn’t That Much Money”

I nearly did not write this post this week. (I’ll pause while some of you wish that ‘nearly’ weren’t a part of that sentence.) I started the week with a mild toothache. By the time I reached my dentist on Tuesday morning, that niggling pain had bloomed into an infection that spread from my tooth to my jaw bone to the soft tissue of my face. Despite oral penicillin (and Vicodin!), I developed a high fever, the left side of my face swelled to grotesque proportions, and my jaw seized shut. I ended up in an ER on IV antibiotics.

While portions of the federal government ground to a halt due to insufficient funds, I held ice packs to my head and prayed quiet prayers about septicemia and the relative impermeability of the blood-brain barrier. Vaguely, in the background, I knew Congress and the president were arguing about health care. About funding the PPACA. Obamacare.

My heart goes out to folks harmed by the federal government shut-down this week. I also agree with those who are dismayed that Capitol Hill can’t reach a consensus sufficient to end the current crisis. It’s their job to find workable agreements, after all. That much, I hope most of us can agree on. Since we’re not here to agree, let’s talk a bit about Obamacare, the source of this week’s trouble in Washington . . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “When Democracy Hurts: The Painful But Legitimate Debate Over Obamacare”

I am watching the goings-on in Washington with a sense that the Republicans have simply given up. No matter that they have no sensible argument to shut down the government, no matter who it might hurt in the process, no matter that they are basically conceding the 2014 cycle — it appears that the GOP is imploding. They can natter on and on about how Obama “refuses to negotiate,” the simple fact is that there is nothing to negotiate. There was a bill, on Capitol Hill, it went to the White House and became a law (apologies to Saturday mornings) — and beyond that, the law was upheld as constitutional by one of the more intelligent and well-thought out Supreme Court opinions in my lifetime. There is nothing to debate. Game over. Oh, they can remind me incessantly of the unfairness of universal healthcare, and how ensuring that everyone has access to healthcare is a very bad thing, but just like that time that Gore beat Bush, and the Supremes ruled in a way that changed the outcome, you have to live with this.

But what we don’t have to live with is an irresponsible act by a relative few that impacts the lives of so many. Retribution and punitive measures may not be swift or severe enough, but how I wish we had implemented the act of “caning” in this country.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Shutdown the Shutdown”

Any time you can shut down the entire government because you still really don’t like a law that helps uninsured Americans that was passed five years ago, you’ve got to do it. Well, at least if you want to be a regional party that can only be competitive in elections by gerrymandering and suppressing voter turnout.

The Republicans have shut down the government, the President doesn’t give a s**t and can’t be held hostage because he doesn’t have to run for anything anymore, and the federal courts will take a beating. The courts have already been operating on a shoestring thanks to the sequester (that other total failure of government), and now this.

The courts can stay open for ten days, and then things get ugly. Even the ABA is not impressed…

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Mark Cuban

* If the government shuts down and then defaults on its debt, Wall Street worries that it would “shake the foundations of the global financial system.” Hooray for political asshattery! [DealBook / New York Times]

* At least six of the Supreme Court’s judicial precedents are up for reconsideration in the upcoming Term, and high court commentators think the resulting decisions could be a mixed bag. [National Law Journal]

* Apparently low-income New Yorkers’ legal problems are “not worthy of a ‘real lawyer,’” or at least that’s the message that will be given if non-lawyers are allowed to provide legal services. [New York Law Journal]

* Sorry, lady, not enough prestige. A Brazilian journalist was allegedly on the receiving end of some “extremely violent” police behavior at Yale Law School after attempting to interview Justice Joaquim Barbosa at a private event. [The Guardian]

* Mark Cuban’s insider trading case is heading to trial today, but we genuinely wonder how he’ll be able to convince a jury that he’s “humble and affable,” rather than the “master of the universe.” [Boston Herald]

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