Samuel Alito

Chief Justice Bart Simpson in 2033, photographed with his father.

Watching old Simpsons episodes can be a little like reading Nostradamus. The early episodes are filled with gags that seem creepily prescient in the light of hindsight. Like how Stop The Planet of the Apes I Want To Get Off predated the “let’s make an old movie into a musical” craze. Or how Fox is gradually transitioning into a hardcore sex channel.

But a tipster noted that a controversial Supreme Court case from this Term gets a predictive wink from an episode that aired in 1992….

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At press time, the child whose future decisions will touch the lives of every American citizen for generations went inside to find a lighter.

– The Onion, describing how an 8-year-old future Supreme Court justice spent his day brutally dismembering a grasshopper. The Onion envisions the Court dominated by a psychopath “who will go on to be the court’s crucial swing vote under five consecutive administrations,” and who “laughed out loud and implored the helpless creature to jump.” That sounds about right.

Justice Samuel Alito

[T]he 64-year-old [Samuel] Alito — a George W. Bush appointee — is aggressively staking out ground as a successor or even rival of sorts to Justice Antonin Scalia, 78, who’s often viewed as the intellectual leader of the court’s conservative wing. But he’s doing so in a less pugnacious and more politically palatable way than Scalia.

Josh Gerstein and David Nather of Politico, in an article about Justice Samuel Alito’s “moment” on the Supreme Court in the wake of his delivery of the majority opinions in both the Harris and Hobby Lobby cases.


The Supreme Court released its opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on Monday, holding that the HHS contraception mandate violates an employer’s rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, even when the employer is a for-profit corporation closely held by individuals who object to the mandate on religious grounds. Following the decision in McCullen v. Coakley, the abortion clinic buffer zone case, Hobby Lobby is the second case in a week where the Court told us how much each side of a fundamentally divided issue can ask of the other, under the law. They are hard cases to talk about without questioning the good faith or good sense of the other side. Nearly everyone thinks either Hobby Lobby or McCullen was a bad decision.

The only thing more frustrating than a bad high-profile Supreme Court decision may be the public’s response to any high-profile Supreme Court decision. For proof, one need only look as far as some of the tweets on SCOTUSblog’s Twitter feed….

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Last year at about this time, Justice Samuel Alito authored one of the most sneaky anti-woman decisions in recent memory. In Vance v. Ball State University, Justice Alito made it much more difficult for women to sue their employers for workplace harassment. At the time, I said it’s the kind of decision Chris Brown would be proud of, but on reflection, that may have been unfair to Chris Brown.

Today, Alito once again puts in the heavy lifting to make the world worse for working women. Apparently, in Alito’s world, it’s not only okay for employers to try to have sex with their female employees, they also get to regulate what medications they take…

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Warrant or GTFO.

Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant.

– Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the Court in Riley v. California, holding that the police generally need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest.

(Additional highlights from Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion, after the jump.)

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Everyone smile and say “certiorari”!

The opinions released by the Supreme Court this morning were not super-exciting. The good news, pointed out by Professor Rick Hasen on Twitter, is that “[t]here are no likely boring #SCOTUS opinions left.” (But see Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, noted by Ken Jost.)

So let’s talk about something more interesting than today’s SCOTUS opinions: namely, the justices’ recently released financial disclosures. Which justices are taking home the most in outside income? How robust are their investments?

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* The Supreme Court chimed in on the death penalty today, ruling 5-4 that Florida can’t use an IQ score as a hardline rule to apply the death penalty. Justice Alito dissented, complaining that the Court turned over the issue to psychiatric doctors. Because if you’re going to make a decision on mental incapacity, why involve people who know the science? [SCOTUSBlog]

* Well, it turns out one of the reasons why Charleston Law is so eager to sell to InfiLaw is that its founders withdrew $25 million in profits over the last three and a half years, leaving the school a financial wreck. [Post and Courier]

* What?!? A judge was allegedly kidnapped by a convicted felon that she may or may not have had a relationship with while she worked as a public defender. And the alleged kidnapper escaped the police when he sneaked out of the hospital because apparently Maryland hired the Keystone Kops. [Washington Post]

* In a sad testament to what happens when zealous representation meets law firm hierarchy, a new study reveals that working hard doesn’t get you anywhere. Just deliver the bare minimum you promised and call it a day. [Law and More]

* Video game manufacturer files lawsuit against… somebody. They’re not sure. But whoever they are, they’re ruining Starcraft. [Hardcore Gamer]

* Nevada’s bar president decided to use his monthly newsletter column to opine on gay marriage. That was probably a mistake for him. [The Irreverent Lawyer]

* A new environmental law firm opens in the rustbelt and it’s ready to take on some industry bigwigs. [What About Paris]

* New York upholds the right to be annoying on the Internet. [IT-Lex]

* Lawyer-turned-rapper Mr. Kelly (@Mrkelly_music) has a new video after the jump about lunchtime and the malaise of living a corporate lifestyle. His album is available too. [YouTube]

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Rankings make this justice sad.

I really don’t like this categorization of schools as first, second, and third-tier. The U.S. News and World Report rankings of law schools are an abomination. The legal profession and the country would be better off if they were eliminated.

– Justice Samuel Alito, cringing at the very mention of law school rankings in comments recently published in the American Spectator’s wide-ranging interview with the Supreme Court justice. Justice Alito also thinks law schools place “too much emphasis” on the LSAT.

It’s fine if we are not all that popular. There is a reason why the Constitution gives federal judges life tenure. We are supposed to do our jobs without worrying whether our decisions are pleasing to anybody.

– Justice Samuel Alito, in comments made in reference to the Supreme Court’s 44 percent approval rating during a speech made in Florida at a luncheon of the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches and the Palm Beach County Bar Association.

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