Politics

Jeremiah Wright Rev Jeremiah Wright Barack Obama Above the Law blog.jpgThis is slightly off the legal beat. But these days, everyone is talking about the Reverend Jeremiah Wright — including lots of law professors (like Ann Althouse and Glenn Reynolds). And we also know how much you enjoy controversy over commencement speakers, especially at Northwestern University (where Jerry Springer is speaking at the law school’s commencement this year).

So, with those connections in mind, here’s some interesting news from late last week:

In a highly unusual move in the academic world, Northwestern University in suburban Chicago has publicly disinvited the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright from its June commencement ceremonies, where he was to receive an honorary degree.

It’s another indication of the rolling repercussions of the retiring African American pastor’s inflammatory comments on America, 9/11, race relations, the AIDs epidemic and Illinois’ junior senator, Barack Obama.

From Northwestern’s statement:

Dr. Wright was quoted as saying that his invitation to receive an honorary degree was withdrawn by Northwestern President Henry Bienen because Dr. Wright “wasn’t patriotic enough.” If Dr. Wright was quoted accurately, that statement is not true. In his conversation and correspondence with Dr. Wright in March, President Bienen never characterized Dr. Wright’s views or made a judgment about them. The letter said, “In light of the controversy surrounding statements made by you that have recently been publicized, the celebratory character of Northwestern’s commencement would be affected by our conferring of this honorary degree. Thus I am withdrawing the offer of an honorary degree previously extended to you.”

So, readers, any thoughts — on Northwestern’s withdrawn invitation, or on Reverend Wright more generally? Might he have a cause of action against Northwestern arising out of his “dis-invitation”?

(No, we don’t seriously think that. But we’re trying to give this post some connection to the law, however tenuous. And we figured that those of you who are studying for final exams might appreciate the challenge of trying to come up with a legal theory for such a lawsuit. Go ahead — spot those issues!)

Collected Jeremiah Wright coverage [Althouse]

Statement Regarding the Rev. Dr. Wright [Northwestern University]

Jeremiah Wright axed from honorary degree by Northwestern U. [Top of the Ticket / Los Angeles Times]

Clyburn Blasts Wright for ‘Knee-Capping’ Obama [The Trail / Washington Post]

Marc Dann.jpgMarc Dann has had a rough tenure as Ohio’s attorney general. When the media start crafting timelines of your troubles, the end may well be nigh. One of Dann’s biggest problems seems to be judgment calls. Such as when choosing staff members. The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a write-up on this stellar Dann staffer:

One of Attorney General Marc Dann’s top managers, who is accused of sexual harassment, has a history of problems with cars and alcohol, including a drunken driving arrest months before he was hired and a smashed state car after.

Dann knew about the arrest because, according to State Highway Patrol records, he was the one who picked Anthony Gutierrez up at 2:30 in the morning at the Canfield post after Gutierrez blew a .149 on a blood-alcohol test nearly twice the legal limit.

Aren’t staffers supposed to be the ones picking their drunk bosses up, and not the other way around?

Super cool SUV.jpg

Reflecting another poor hiring decision, Dann had to discipline his communications director for sending a "profane, abusive e-mail to a co-worker." His COMMUNICATIONS director.

The list of poor staffing choices goes on.

Dann's staff is not entirely to blame for his troubles. From the timeline:

June 2007: Dann, standing on a street in an upper-middle class neighborhood, spots a reporter who had written a story he didn’t like. Dann says, “Hey Steve, write this down: Go (expletive) yourself!”

Maybe Dann’s communications director suggested that.

Dann picked up his aide after DUI arrest [The Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Timeline of Marc Dann’s troubles [Dayton Daily News]

Mr_Easter_Bunny.jpgSome of you have wondered about the delay in choosing finalists for the ATL Caption Contest. We did not forget about it; we just wanted to save a little Easter for April, the proper month for the holiday. Easter in March is just plain wrong.
As a refresher, this is the photo of President Bush and his White House Counsel — Fred Fielding, former senior partner at Wiley Rein (fka Wiley Rein & Fielding), dressed up as the Easter Bunny — at the White House Easter Egg Roll last month. Without further ado, out of 200 comments, these are our ten finalists. [FN1]
A. “I left a firm with over $4 million in PPP to do THIS???” -Anonymous
B. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare discuss the legality of waterboarding the Dormouse. -Klerk
C. “Mr. President, I wanted to let you know that I put the last of those White House e-mails down the rabbit hole.” -Anonymous
D. Yeah, well, nobody wants to be the guy that told the POTUS there is no Easter Bunny and Cheney said that if I play along I’ll get a Supreme Court nomination. Hey, whatever happened with that Harriet woman? -Anonymous
E. I dressed up in this bunny suit and all I got was a feature on ATL. -Anonymous
F. After ignoring the rule of law for seven years, President Bush finally found a use for the White House Counsel. -Anonymous
G. “Someone please tell me that’s not a wombat behind me.” -Anonymous
H. I guess that answers the question of whether its better to get a JD or an MBA. -Anonymous
I. Fred (thinking): “That f-n headhunter promised me I would be supporting the President on matters of national importance. G-d D-MN it!” -Anonymous
J. George: Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?
Bunny: Why do you wear that stupid man suit? -133t
We invite you to vote for the winner after the jump. Poll closes at midnight tomorrow.
[FN1] There were many funny comments, but we exercised a bias in favor of those with a legal connection.
Earlier: ATL Caption Contest: Mr. Easter Bunny, White House Counsel Fred Fielding
The rabbit behind the man: White House counsel Fred Fielding [Washington Post]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Caption Contest Finalists: Mr. Easter Bunny and POTUS”

Here’s a photo of President Bush and his White House Counsel — Fred Fielding, former senior partner at Wiley Rein (fka Wiley Rein & Fielding), dressed up as the Easter Bunny — at the White House Easter Egg Roll earlier this week:
Fred Fielding Easter Bunny White House Counsel Fred F Fielding Above the Law blog.jpg
Quips our tipster: “One can only hope Fielding isn’t splitting hares. Or giving hare-brained advice.”
Okay, you’re groaning. Think you can do better? Then enter the ATL caption contest. Same rules as before:

We welcome your suggested alternative captions, in the comments. Assuming sufficient response, we’ll take our favorites, incorporate them into a poll, and hold a caption contest.

We doubt we’ll receive as many submissions as we did for our last caption contest. But we’re going to limit the entries this time: we’re closing the comments if and when we hit the 100-comment mark. So if you’d like to enter the contest, don’t delay. Thanks.
Update (2 PM): Okay, we’ll let it get up to 200 comments. We especially appreciate suggested captions that are in some way law-related. What makes this picture relevant to ATL is the fact that the man in the bunny suit is President Bush’s chief lawyer (and a former name partner of a leading D.C. law firm).
If we just wanted to post a random, funny photo of the president with the Easter bunny, we would have used this one.
Update (4:50 PM): You seem to be having a lot of fun with this, so we will keep the comments open indefinitely. But in picking the finalists, we will focus on comments that have a connection to the legal profession (as opposed to comments that are more politically oriented or simply random).
Update (3/31/08): Thanks for all the excellent entries. The comments section is now closed.
The rabbit behind the man: White House counsel Fred Fielding [Washington Post]
Bush Hugging Bunny [Wonkette]

Carl McGee Carl Stanley McGee Governor Deval Patrick Above the Law blog.jpgFor the record, here’s some follow-up on two Bay State lawyers previously discussed in these pages, who have been cleared of the charges against them. At least to some extent.
First, remember Carl Stanley McGee (right), who was arrested after being accused of going down on a 15-year-old boy? Earlier this week, Florida prosecutors decided to drop the case.
Apparently the teen had trouble identifying McGee. But maybe he also learned that it’s bad form to complain about getting a BJ. Unless teeth are involved.
Second, remember the handsome Gary Zerola (below right), named a “Most Eligible Bachelor” by People magazine, and accused of rape and attempted rape by three different women? One of the cases against him went to trial, and he was acquitted (back in January; we missed the news when it came out).
Gary Zerola 2 Most Eligible Bachelor rape Above the Law blog.jpgA second trial is currently underway. In that case, as reported in today’s Boston Herald, Zerola’s defense team argues that the victim wanted to shakedown their client for $150,000.
The third incident, which is the one that we wrote about, has not yet gone to trial.
Sex Case Against MA Guv’s Aide Dropped [AP]
‘Most eligible bachelor’ acquitted in attempted rape case [Boston Globe]
Zerola team: Alleged victim sought $150G [Boston Herald]
Earlier: Lawyer of the Day: Carl Stanley McGee
Most Eligible Bachelor Becomes Considerably Less Eligible

Winston Strawn LLP logo Above the Law blog.JPGThe Washington office of Winston & Strawn was the site of a “mystery protest” this afternoon. For more details and a photo, see here. Wonkette’s tipster writes: “What they did to deserve a protest is beyond me.”
Our guess? Fashion-forward feminists, really pissed off about this.
Mystery Protest On Rain-Slicked D.C. Corner! [Wonkette]

Sam Arora 2 Hillary Clinton Georgetown Law Above the Law Blog.jpgWhile standing outside the U.S. Supreme Court building this morning, Georgetown Law student Sam Arora sent us this message (with photo):

I’m #2 in line for the SCOTUS 11 AM argument. A policewoman standing at front told me I wasn’t allowed to wear my Hillary button “on the plaza.” She said it was rules.

I asked if she was sure, because I’m just standing here in our single file line with my friends. She said wearing a button was “demonstrating,” and I had to take it off.

I asked again if she was sure, because that seems to run afoul of First Amendment protections, but hey… I want to see my professor (Mike Gottesman) argue in Chamber v. Brown at 11am, so I took it off.

I asked her who in their office I could talk to about their policy, because I just don’t understand its grounding. She barked at me, “JUST TAKE IT OFF!.”

Well, dang, she has a gun, so I’m just going to petition the government… at a later time when she can’t hurt me!

So, readers, what do you think? Does Sam have a legitimate grievance? Or will his petition be denied?

P.S. Sam Arora is identified here with his permission. Our default rule at ATL is anonymity for tipsters. But Mr. Arora is a quasi-celebrity here inside the Beltway, as one of The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill. Sadly, the Supreme Court policewoman proved immune to his charms.

Barack Obama small Senator Barack Hussein Obama Above the Law blog.JPG* Collected coverage of yesterday’s Supreme Court oral argument in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Second Amendment case concerning D.C. gun control. [SCOTUSblog (linkwrap); How Appealing (linkwrap)]
* NJ prosecutors subpoena records from JuicyCampus.com (think AutoAdmit for college students). [AP]
* An update on former Lawyer of the Day Kwame Kilpatrick: the Detroit City Council wants him to resign as mayor, but he’s vowing not to leave. [New York Times]
* Olympic gold-medal hottie who had “close personal relationship” with New York’s latest Luv Guv, David Paterson, says he helped her land a government job. [New York Post via Drudge]
* The full transcript of yesterday’s speech by Barack Obama on race. [Washington Post]

WilmerHale Wilmer Hale 2 Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPGWe bring you news of a career move by one of America’s most fabulous young lawyers. From a press release issued by WilmerHale:

WilmerHale is pleased to announce that Rachel L. Brand and Mark D. Nelson will join the firm’s Washington, DC public policy and strategy practice focusing on congressional investigations, regulatory affairs and crisis management. Ms. Brand will also be active in the firm’s government litigation and defense and national security practices. Ms. Brand was most recently Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy, where she served as chief policy and regulatory advisor to the Attorney General and managed the confirmation process for Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito.

Wait, hold on a sec — Rachel Brand? As in young-conservative-superstar Rachel Brand, known in some circles as the Federalist Society Prom Queen?
Are you sure there hasn’t been some mistake? Maybe Brand went to another D.C. law firm whose name starts with a “W,” like Wiley Rein — perhaps a more natural home for a prominent Republican attorney?
WilmerHale, after all, is one of Washington’s most high-profile, left-leaning law firms. It’s home to leading liberal lawyers like former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, a possible Attorney General or Defense Secretary in a Democratic administration; former Solicitor General Seth Waxman, a possible judicial (D.C. Circuit?) nominee; Randy Moss, former head of the DOJ’s super-elite Office of Legal Counsel; and Howard Shapiro, former general counsel to the FBI. [FN1]
But no, it’s true — Brand is at Wilmer Hale. Word on the street, in fact, is that the firm is actively looking for Republican lawyers like Brand and Nelson. Perhaps they need someone to hold down the fort when everyone bails to serve in the Obama Administration?
We spoke to Rachel Brand yesterday, her first day of work. You know how useless first days can be — paperwork, orientation, technology training. “They taught me how to turn on my computer,” she quipped.
As for her new gig, Brand expressed excitement about the opportunity to join WilmerHale, “a great firm with some incredible lawyers.” She noted the abundance of lawyers with government experience at WilmerHale and said that her skill set fit well with the firm.
We wish Brand and Nelson the best of luck in their new professional home.
(We tried to contact Nelson but were unable to reach him. The WilmerHale telephone operator did not have an extension for him. Perhaps he isn’t in the office yet? If he is, someone needs to give his phone number to the receptionist.)
[FN1] As it turns out, a number of prominent Republicans are current or former WilmerHale partners. E.g., current partner Reginald Brown, who most recently served in the White House Counsel’s office, and former partner C. Boyden Gray, currently U.S. ambassador to the European Union Special Envoy for EU Affairs.
WilmerHale Adds Top DOJ and Congressional Investigation Lawyers To Public Policy and Strategy Team [WilmerHale]

Eliot Spitzer Governor Eliot Spitzer prostitute prostitution Above the Law blog.jpgNew York Governor Eliot Spitzer scheduled a news conference for 11:30 AM today. It appears that the governor is running late. We’re tuned in to CNN, and they just showed footage of the governor’s motorcade leaving from his Upper East Side apartment — previously profiled here (Fifth Avenue, 3BR/3BA, Central Park views) — to his offices downtown.
11:35 AM: The CNN commentators are saying that Governor Spitzer is planning to announce his resignation, but it apparently won’t take effect until Monday, March 17. This would give the governor a week to “take care of business.”
11:42: Governor Spitzer is in the building. It seems we’re about to get underway.
11:43: Governor Spitzer takes the podium and unfolds a small piece of paper; it looks like he’ll be speaking from notes. He’s wearing a dark suit and white shirt — the uniform of the upstanding prosecutor. But should he still be allowed to wear a white shirt? It’s like a super-slutty bride wearing white on her wedding day. Who are you fooling?
Governor Spitzer’s wife, Silda Wall Spitzer, is once again standing by her man — literally, and as she did on Monday. She’s wearing a dark suit and a fabulous scarf (red, blue, cream, and gold). But she looks a bit haggard, and her face bears a dead expression. She’s not a happy camper.
11:44: Governor Spitzer speaks. Expressions of remorse for what he did, and gratitude for his family’s love and support. Emphasis on “private” failings. Apologies to the people of New York for not living up to their public trust. No specific description of his indiscretions.
11:45: “I cannot allow my private failings to disturb the people’s work… For this reason, I am resigning from the Office of Governor.” At Lieutenant Governor David Paterson’s request, it will take effect on Monday, March 17.
11:46: Concludes by expressing thanks for “the privilege of service.” He borrowed that line from “Kristen.”
No questions. Governor Spitzer has left the podium and the room.
That’s all, folks. Nothing to see here; please move along.
Update: The full text of Eliot Spitzer’s resignation statement appears here.
Earlier: Lawyerly Lairs: Eliot Spitzer’s Sugar Daddy

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