Samuel Alito

In a recent post about Peter Barta, the Legal Aid lawyer who allegedly videotaped his female colleagues as they were getting undressed, we ranked on policy debaters.
Maybe we should take it back. From a highly informative reader email:

John Hughes John M Hughes debater Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgNot all former policy debaters are creeps. Here’s a list of former policy debaters who are current or future legal rock stars:

Justice Samuel Alito, Judge Merrick Garland, Larry Tribe, Louis Kaplow, Erwin Chemerinsky, NYU President John Sexton, Jonathan Massey, David Boies, Tom Goldstein, Rebecca Tushnet, Annie Kastanek (OT 2007/Kennedy), and John Hughes (OT 2005/Thomas; pictured at right, captured in mid-debate).

Former policy debaters, please accept our apologies. We did extemp and L-D debate in high school, and we generally viewed C-X debaters with suspicion. They struck us as kids who talked reallyreallyfast, warning constantly of nuclear war. But maybe we were wrong.
To paraphrase the “ignorant tipster” from the Oona O’Connell story: “We feel kind of bad that we prejudged them. Sorry to sound like an afterschool special. But you know what? Perhaps we learned a lesson today. Good on you. ‘The more you know.'”
Earlier: Reading the Bartameter (Part 3): What Is Up With Those Policy Debaters?

Supreme Court morning Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid blog.jpgThey prefer crack, thank you very much.
Because why else would the justices rule against noble, crusading students, and in favor of the mean old school officials, in Morse v. Frederick — aka the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case?*
But free speech proponents shouldn’t despair. Over at SCOTUSblog, Marty Lederman notes:

Morse is a very limited holding — essentially limited to the drug context. The Alito concurrence, joined by Kennedy, is controlling. He writes:

I join the opinion of the Court on the understanding that (a) it goes no further than hold that a public school may restrict speech that a reasonable observer would interpret as advocating illegal drug use and (b) it provides no support for any restriction of speech that can plausibly be interpreted as commenting on any political or social issue, including speech on issues such as ‘the wisdom of the war on drugs or of legalizing marijuana for medicinal use.’”

In other words: Hey liberals, this Alito guy might not be as bad as you thought.
* As we previously observed, petitioner Deborah Morse, one of the prevailing school officials, is “a curvaceous, dark-haired beauty.” But we would hope that Supreme Court justices would decide cases based on the merits, not on the attractiveness of the parties.
Of course, sometimes both factors point in the same direction. See, e.g., Marshall v. Marshall — the Anna Nicole Smith case.
Quick Preliminary Notes on Hein and Morse [SCOTUSblog]

Judicial junkies, here are two quick items about the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit:
Chambermaid 2 Saira Rao Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg1. New Novel. The eagerly anticipated Chambermaid — a roman a clef novel set in the Third Circuit by Saira Rao, a former law clerk to the totally terrifying Judge Dolores Sloviter (3d Cir.) — is now in bookstores. It has arrived a few weeks ahead of its original publication date of July 10. Our earlier discussion appears here.
A very interesting interview with Saira Rao, followed by a comments clusterf**k lively reader discussion, appears at the WSJ Law Blog.
We recently read Chambermaid, which we thoroughly enjoyed. We’ll probably review it in the near future, either here at ATL or for a print publication.
(Shameless plug: If you’re an editor in need of a book review, please email us.)
Law Blog Q&A: Saira Rao [WSJ Law Blog]
Chambermaid by Saira Rao [official website]
Earlier: A ‘Devil Wears Prada’ for the Law Clerk Set
Shalom Stone Shalom D Stone Third Circuit Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg2. New Nominee. After Judge Noel Hillman (D.N.J.) was mysteriously pulled as the presumptive nominee for Justice Samuel Alito’s former Third Circuit seat, we wondered: What’s up with that Third Circuit seat?
Now we know (or think we do). According to media reports, the likely new nominee is Shalom Stone (at right). Here’s a brief bio:

Stone, a former chairman of a state bar committee on federal practice and procedure who handles a wide swath of issues, including insurance, RICO, real estate and ethics, has been practicing for 20 years. He’s now a partner at the Roseland firm of Walder Hayden and Brogan.

More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Some Third Circuit Scuttlebutt”


Supreme Court hallway Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law.JPGWe’ve received some news about Supreme Court law clerk hiring for October Term 2008 (not the upcoming Term, but the one after that):

1. We had heard, through the grapevine, that Justice Antonin Scalia had started his OT 2008 interviewing earlier than usual. And it appears to have yielded at least one hire: Yaakov Roth (Harvard 2007 / Boudin).

Rumor has it that Roth has one of the highest GPAs in the history of Harvard Law School. So presumably he’s graduating summa cum laude — which happens once in a blue moon at HLS.

2. Justice Samuel Alito continues his trend of hiring from the ranks of his former Third Circuit clerks. Jack L. White (Pepperdine 2003 / Alito) will be reunited with his former boss for 2008-2009.

If you have more SCOTUS clerk hiring news to add, please email us (subject line: “Supreme Court clerk hiring”).
A list of OT 2008 law clerks thus far, combining what we’ve just learned with information currently reflected on Wikipedia, appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: October Term 2008″

Supreme Court 6 Above the Law blog.JPGWe’re a little late on this (and blame our tardiness on associate pay fixation). But here are two interesting tidbits of Supreme Court gossip, from Tony Mauro of the Legal Times:
1. Carter Phillips’ Kin Is Alito Clerk [Legal Times]
One of Justice Samuel Alito’s incoming clerks, Jessica Phillips — who has been described as “beautiful and brainy” — is the daughter of renowned Supreme Court litigator Carter Phillips. This means that Jessica “will have no involvement in cases in which her father’s firm, Sidley Austin, participates” — which has ranged as high as 20 percent of the Court’s docket.
(Btw, Jessica Phillips is not the first female clerk whose father also clerked for the Court. Mauro ticks off a list of five daughters of male clerks who went on to become clerks themselves. Check it out here.)
2. New Job for Mrs. Roberts [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
More on Jane Roberts’ New Job [The BLT]

Lawyer Jane Sullivan Roberts, the wife of Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. has a new job — and it’s not at a law firm. The leading legal search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa announced this morning that Mrs. Roberts is leaving Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman’s D.C. office to become leader of the In-House Practice Group in Major, Lindsey & Africa’s D.C. office.

Inquiring minds want to know: Will Jane Roberts continue to earn more than her husband in her new position?
(That was surely the case in her old job, when Jane Sullivan Roberts was a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop. Even though her most recent post at the firm was Executive Partner for Talent Development, which probably didn’t involve a lot of client-billable work, it would be shocking for a Biglaw partner to earn less than her hubby’s $212,100 salary as Chief Justice.)

Pregnant Belly 2 Above the Law blog.JPGThis just in from One First Street. The Associated Press reports:

The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure Wednesday, handing abortion opponents the long- awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench.

The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

The opponents of the act “have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

The decision pitted the court’s conservatives against its liberals, with President Bush’s two appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, siding with the majority.

This ruling lends support to those who predict — like Jan Crawford Greenburg, in Supreme Conflict — that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito will move the Court significantly to the right in the years ahead. Before Justice Alito replaced Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a decision like this one would have required the conservatives to secure TWO swing votes, AMK and SOC, instead of just one. That frequently doomed the conservatives to defeat in the big-ticket cases.
So Justice Alito, appointed to the Court by President Bush, probably made all the difference here. As Senatrix Barbara Boxer recently observed: “Elections have consequences.”
Update: For more detailed commentary, check out Lyle Denniston’s SCOTUSblog post, which quotes extensively from Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent. To read the opinion itself, click here (PDF).
Court Backs Ban on Abortion Procedure [Associated Press]
Court upholds federal abortion ban [SCOTUSblog]
Gonzales v. Carhart (PDF) [SCOTUSblog]
Senator Boxer: Elections Have Consequences [YouTube]

Next time you hear a cell phone go off in a movie or at the theater, and think to yourself, “What an a**hole!”, remind yourself: Someday YOU might be that a**hole.
Watch this video, from the start of the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court finals, which we attended at Columbia Law School earlier this week. Pay special attention to what happens around the 18-second mark:

Yes, that’s right. The judges entered the room, their robes billowing out behind them. The court crier made the very formal and grandiose announcement: “Oyez, oyez…” The room fell into a solemn silence. And then, at that precise moment, our computer — which was in the process of turning on — made that annoying Windows start-up noise. Loudly.
One could feel a wave of horrified embarrassment sweep through the audience. Justice Alito chuckled, so hopefully he wasn’t too offended. But we were mortified (and rightfully so).
In our defense, this was a complete accident. We were in the process of setting up and turning on our computer, and we didn’t know when exactly the judges would be arriving. We turned our computer on, and it began the start-up process (which can take a little while). Unfortunately, just seconds after we turned it on, the judges made their entrance. And even more unfortunately, as the silence settled over the room, our computer made that colossally loud cyber-fart.
In any event, our apologies, Your Honors! Please do not blame the CLS audience for this rudeness. It was completely our fault.
We took some rough notes on the proceedings. They will probably interest you only if you attended the Moot Court finals yourselves. Or if you care about the hairstyles of Article III judges.
If you want to see our commentary, it’s available after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Wherein We Embarrass Ourselves at the Moot Court Finals”

Yesterday afternoon, we attended the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court finals, at Columbia Law School. We interviewed the four finalists prior to the arguments.
Here’s our interview with Eric Chesin and Geoffrey Reed:

And here’s our interview with David Gringer and Patrick Somers:

After impressive arguments, and deliberation by the distinguished panel — Justice Samuel A. Alito, Judge Susan P. Graber, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Judge Sonia Sotomayor — the best oralist prize went to Eric Chesin. Congratulations, Eric!

John Paul Stevens Justice John Paul Stevens Above the Law blog.jpg[Ed. note: ATL will be on a pretty laid-back publication schedule today. It's Good Friday, the markets are closed, and many folks are probably traveling for the holiday weekend. We will be posting, but not at our regular pace.]
* Stevens’s key role. [USA Today via How Appealing]
* Surveillance laws outdated? He’s probably referring to all of those pesky constitutional protections. [Jurist]
* Dude. You gotta make sure you’re getting the right one when you’re messing with the huevos. That’s just not cool. Not cool at all. That guy deserves a bazillion dollars. [CNN]
* Lawyers and golf. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Fartman loses on appeal. [Andrews Publications via FindLaw]
* Belated birthday greetings to Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., who turned 57 earlier this week. [How Appealing]

Samuel Alito 3 Justice Samuel A Alito Jr Above the Law blog.JPGAs reported last month by The BLT and Roll Call (subscription), Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and his wife, Martha Alito, are selling their million-dollar New Jersey home. Here’s the listing.
But if you were hoping to purchase a piece of history, you’re probably out of luck. The judicial manse appears to be under contract.
That won’t stop us, however, from engaging in a little ogling. Here’s what the listing originally looked like, before the photographs were removed:
Samuel Alito House Samuel A Alito Jr West Caldwell Above the Law blog.GIF
More about this supremely appealing residence, after the jump.

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