Politics

Mikhail Saakashvili Georgian president Georgia.jpgHere is a short Intelligencer item we just wrote for New York Magazine, about the two years that Mikheil Saakashvili, president of Georgia, spent in New York. It begins:

Fifteen years before his country was invaded — or, perhaps, reinvaded — by Russia, Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili was learning about the American system of law and living on the Upper West Side. He arrived here in 1993, spent a year at Columbia earning a master’s in law, and then worked one year as an associate at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler before returning to the newly independent former Soviet republic.

How is Saakashvili remembered by the professors and partners who knew him back then? Find out by reading the rest of the piece, available here.

Tbilisi on the Hudson: What Georgia’s president learned as a New York lawyer. [New York Magazine]

Elizabeth Halverson small Judge Elizabeth Halverson Liz Halverson Above the Law blog.JPGA tipster dubbed yesterday “the day legal comedy died.” From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

While the Judicial Discipline Commission weighs the fate of embattled District Judge Elizabeth Halverson, voters delivered their own verdict Tuesday, deciding Halverson must go.

Halverson, who faces complaints of falling asleep on the bench and harassing her staff, received less than 10 percent of the vote, trailing opponents Stefany Miley and Jason Landess, who will move to the general election in November.

Alas, it appears that the ATL endorsement was not enough to save her candidacy.

A woman who declined to give her name as she walked out of Ruth Fyfe Elementary School said she and her husband specifically showed up at the polls to voice their displeasure with Halverson. The couple called her “goofy.”

“I voted against her because of the recent happenings, her health issues … everything,” the woman said.

Voter Barbara Lloyd said she too wanted to be sure Halverson wasn’t re-elected.

“I want her out of office,” Lloyd said. “I haven’t been impressed with her at all.”

Really? Despite her Harvard Law Review-quality work?

Halverson’s run for office appeared to be bleak before she faced the discipline commission. According to her campaign contribution reports, she had $5,200 in her election coffers thanks to a loan from herself.

La Halverson, taking a page from the Hillary playbook. But five grand is nothing compared to $25 million.
Halverson ousted; Miley top vote-getter [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

Ted Stevens Sen Ted Stevens R Alaska.jpgWell, kinda breaking — the news came out in the past hour. See links below. A DOJ press conference will take place later this afternoon.
For all of you trivia buffs, Senator Stevens is the longest-serving Republican Senator. He’s also, as noted by the AP, “a figure in Alaska politics since before statehood.”
Sen. Stevens indicted: 7 false statements counts [AP]
Sen. Ted Stevens Indicted in Alaska Corruption Probe [Washington Post]
Alaska Senator Is Indicted on Corruption Charges [New York Times]


Monica Goodling 4 Monica M Goodling sexy pose Above the Law blog.jpgWe hear that the Justice Department’s special report on our favorite DOJ diva, Monica Goodling, will be coming out later today — in fact, later this morning. Perhaps within 15 minutes or so, give or take….
Stay tuned. We’ll update this space with more as it emerges.
Update (10:08 AM): As we predicted, the report of the Office of the Inspector General, “An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General,” has been released. To access it, click here (PDF).
We haven’t head the chance to read it yet (since we’re juggling several stories this morning). If you take a look at the report, please feel free to point out the most interesting portions, in the comments.
Further Update: More from NPR, the AP, and the WSJ Law Blog.
Justice Dept.’s Hiring Tactics Illegal, Report Says [National Public Radio]
DOJ: Former aide broke law in hiring scandal [Associated Press]
Who’s to Blame for GonzoGate? DOJ Report Points to Goodling [WSJ Law Blog]

Cass Sunstein Samantha Power engaged ATL Above the Law blog.jpgBack in May, we broke the news of the engagement of celebrity professors Cass Sunstein and Samantha Power. Both are Harvard-trained lawyers and high-profile advisers — current in Sunstein’s case, and former in Power’s case (see Monstergate) — to fellow HLS grad Barack Obama.

In the fall, Professor Sunstein will be teaching law at Harvard, where Professor Power teaches at the Kennedy School of Government. His relationship with Power reportedly played a major role in his decision to leave the University of Chicago, his longtime home in legal academia.

If you doubted our original report about the Power-Sunstein engagement, your doubts were misplaced. It’s now official. From the Irish Independent:

The man who brought them together was unavoidably detained elsewhere. Barack Obama has the small matter of a US presidential campaign to fight.

[On Friday], a world away in rain-lashed Co Kerry, two of his friends tied the knot. The wind blew and the rain poured down but it could not spoil a very special Fourth of July for Samantha Power.

Obama’s former adviser married Professor Cass Sunstein in Mary Immaculate Church, on the edge of the sea at Loher near Waterville, Co Kerry.

Irish-American academic and writer Samantha (38) arrived for her marriage to the 54-year-old law professor at the church in the parish of Caherdaniel, the home turf of 19th century politician, the Liberator Daniel O’Connell.

The couple met while working on the Obama presidential campaign.

The celebrated Sunstein and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Power are boldface names, and the person who brought them together is probably going to be the next President of the United States. But because their nuptials were not featured in the august pages of the New York Times — we wonder why they didn’t submit themselves (because they would have made the cut if they had) — Power and Sunstein are not eligible for consideration in the next installment of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch.

But we obviously could not let their wedding go unremarked. Hence this special report, which you can think of as “LEWW Supp.”

More details, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch (Bonus Edition): Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein Get Hitched”

California Supreme Court gay marriage same sex marriage.jpgLast week, the California Supreme Court struck down that state’s statutory ban on gay / same-sex marriage. The court was closely divided, issuing a 4-3 decision. Six out of the seven justices were appointed by Republican governors, interestingly enough.
Here’s a potentially more accurate way to explain the result in the marriage cases than party affiliation. From an observant — and self-confessed elitist — tipster:

I found this breakdown amusing:

Law schools of judges in the majority: Stanford, USC, Berkeley (Boalt) / GW (first in her class at both schools), Stanford.

Law schools of dissenting judges: Hastings, USF, Hastings.

Correlation or causation? I’m just sayin’….

lesbian marriage Above the Law blog.jpgCorrelation or causation is a fair question. Did the four pro-gay-marriage justices reach a “better” decision because they went to “better” law schools? Or did their attending elite (read: liberal) law schools make these justices more sympathetic to what Justice Antonin Scalia has decried as the “homosexual agenda”? Feel free to opine, in the comments.
P.S. Ah, who cares about where these judges went to law school? Which ones are the hottest — or, to put it more crudely, more “do-able”? For some thoughts on this subject, see 23/6 (which has evaluated these judicial hotties in a manner reminiscent of Underneath Their Robes).
Inappropriate Hottie Rundown: California Supreme Court Justices [236.com]
Earlier: Breaking: California Supreme Court Upholds Gay Marriage

john_mccain.jpgJohn McCain doesn’t have the interesting gender or diversity points that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have, but he does have some immigrant cred. He was not born in one of the United States of America, and there are “at least three pending cases… challenging McCain’s right to be sworn in as president.”

The Senate is willing to consider him a “natural born citizen” — but the senators’ opinion doesn’t really matter. From the Washington Post:

The Senate has unanimously declared John McCain a natural-born citizen, eligible to be president of the United States.

That is the good news for the presumptive Republican nominee, who was born nearly 72 years ago in a military hospital in the Panama Canal Zone, then under U.S. jurisdiction. The bad news is that the nonbinding Senate resolution passed Wednesday night is simply an opinion that has little bearing on an arcane constitutional debate that has preoccupied legal scholars for many weeks.

That’s right. This decision may not be up to some lawyers turned politicians. It may go to the legal big boys. SCOTUS, baby.

Sarah H. Duggin, an associate law professor at Catholic University who has studied the “natural born” issue in detail, said the question is “not so simple.” While she said McCain would probably prevail in a determined legal challenge to his eligibility to be president, she added that the matter can be fully resolved only by a constitutional amendment or a Supreme Court decision.

This is not the first time this debate has made news. Back in February, we reported on articles in the New York Times and WSJ Law Blog.

We conducted a poll then asking whether you agreed with the statement, “John McCain is a ‘natural-born citizen’ entitled to serve as president.” Since we’re certain that all ATL readers are highly-educated legal scholars and thorough researchers, the 65 percent of you who agreed with the statement must be right. We’ll let SCOTUS know stat.

McCain’s Birth Abroad Stirs Legal Debate [Washington Post]

Earlier: John McCain: A ‘Natural-Born Citizen’?

Marc Dann.jpgMarc Dann is Ohio’s attorney general… for now. But he won’t be Case Western Reserve University’s law school commencement speaker, per an e-mail from the dean this morning.

Dann was an ATL lawyer of the day honoree last month for running a dysfunctional office with staff accused of sexual harassment, DUIs, and ethics law violations. Oh, but there’s more.

On Friday, Dann held a press conference where he revealed his affair with a staffer. Two of his staff were fired and two resigned last week, including the 28-year-old scheduler with whom Dann had the affair. If sleeping with the boss doesn’t get you a raise and a promotion, what’s the point? From the Cleveland Plain-Dealer:

Dann announced the affair at a news conference Friday morning, after investigators released a report on the sexual harassment investigation. The former state senator who once worked in a small Youngstown law firm blamed his inexperience and said he was not equipped to take over a state agency with more than 1,400 employees, including 400 lawyers.

“I don’t know how many people here expected me to win the election, but I certainly was not among them. It was a surprise that I won,” he said.

Saying that you didn’t think you would actually win is the worst defense ever (and seems off-topic). Despite that, Dann says he plans to stay in office and clean up the mess. Good luck with that.

Five Ohio newspapers are calling for his head resignation. For ponderings on whether sex scandal politicians should resign, see Law and More and Vanity Fair. Case Western law prof Jonathan Adler wonders if Dann could save his career with a really good apology — in song.

Dann had been slated to be Case Western Law School’s commencement speaker on May 18, but the dean e-mailed the school this morning to announce Dann’s withdrawal. Too bad. His speech could have been fun: “Hey kids, you too can use your Case Western degree to be a total f*#k-up, reward your friends with jobs, sleep with your scheduler, and tap state resources for personal use!”

Dann-related links, collected below. Dean Simson’s email, after the jump.

Editorial Consensus: Dann Must Go [Volokh Conspiracy]

The Trials of Marc Dann [Volokh Conspiracy]

Dann should resign/be forced out if he’s a lousy AG for OH, not because of That Woman et al. [Law and More]

Gov. Strickland on Attorney General scandal [Cleveland Plain Dealer Blog]

Dann draws more outrage [Dayton Daily News]

It’s the Adultery, Stupid! [Vanity Fair]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Party Is Over in the Ohio AG ‘Dannimal House’
Amid Scandal, Dann Withdraws As Case Western Law’s Commencement Speaker

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]

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