SCOTUS

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 been a week of strange splits and noteworthy dissents at the U.S. Supreme Court.

In Navarette v. California, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for a five-justice majority, holding that a traffic stop premised on an anonymous but reliable 911 tip about a swerving driver provided a police officer reasonable suspicion that the driver was intoxicated. So much the worse for the driver in this case, who happened to have thirty pounds of pot in the bed of his truck. Chief Justice Roberts agreed, as did Justices Kennedy, Breyer, and Alito. Justice Antonin Scalia dissented, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan. The usual yammering about Thomas as Scalia’s lap dog was quiet in this case. In Navarette, they apparently don’t even agree about how booze works: Scalia writes, “Whether a drunk driver drives drunkenly, the Court seems to think, is up to him. That is not how I understand the influence of alcohol.” He then cites to an article on the science of drinking.

In Paroline v. United States, the case involving restitution for child pornography victims, Justice Kennedy authored the majority opinion, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, and Kagan. The Chief dissented, along with Scalia and Thomas. Justice Sotomayor dissented separately. While none of the other justices joined her opinion, Sotomayor would have affirmed the Fifth Circuit’s en banc majority, granting the victim Amy full restitution. That majority included some conservative stalwarts (such as my former boss, Edith Jones) who aren’t often on the same side of divisive issues as the Wise Latina.

Justice Sotomayor also dissented in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, this term’s high-profile affirmative action case. Justice Ginsburg joined Sotomayor’s spirited (58-page!) dissent. Justice Kennedy, writing for himself, the Chief, and Alito, concluded that the Constitution does not require the Court to strike down Michigan voters’ ban on race-based admissions policies in higher education. Scalia and Thomas concurred only in the judgment. Breyer separately concurred, based on a different rationale. Kagan was recused.

If the Supreme Court this week is any indicator, we often agree on little. Where we do, we sometimes find ourselves sharing the sheets with some strange bedfellows. A week of vociferous dissents and unexpected alliances suits seems strangely appropriate to me this week . . . .

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* There’s a 5-4 Supreme Court lineup you don’t see too often. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* The Supreme Court is about to hear two cases on cellphone searches that would ring true with the Founders. [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* Who watches the watchmen? It turns out nobody. This’ll end well. [Reuters]

* A “Real Housewife” is apparently no longer so much a wife. She’s dating a “hot shot” NYC lawyer. [Daily Mail]

* Affirmative action took another hit yesterday. But Professor Brian Fitzpatrick examines whether or not race-neutral affirmative action was really ever working anyway. [SSRN]

* Extensive drug bust announced by publicity-hound D.A. uncovers… well, not all that much. [Slate]

* Ready for the ATL Top 50 Law School Rankings? They will be revealed next week on the next episode of Kaplan’s The 180 — Live. [The 180 -- Live / Kaplan]

* Georgia is now the 31st state with an active marriage equality lawsuit. Justice Scalia now really wants a revolt. [Associated Press via ABC News]

* Stetson boasted the best bar passage rate in Florida. See how that’s a better fact to tout than “5th out of 11“? [Ocala Star Banner]

* A key member of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s defense team is leaving the Army because they were going to force him to leave the defense to attend a graduate course in Virginia. The kneejerk, liberal reaction is that this is a conspiracy to derail his defense. I highly doubt it. From my experience, the Army’s counterproductive decisions are staunchly arbitrary. [Huffington Post]

* Derek Khanna takes on the Aereo case before the Supreme Court ruins it for all of us. [Politix]

* Britain’s just like a cute little America. They have conservative politicians trying to win votes through nonsensical religious exclusion too. [What About Clients]

* Last time we checked in on Judge Carlos Cortez, he was defending himself against charges that he strangled and threatened to kill a girlfriend. Apparently things have gotten much, much darker down there in Texas. [Dallas Morning News]

Calm down, affirmative action supporters, calm down. Yes, the Supreme Court just gave every state the authority to ban affirmative action in college admissions if they so choose. Yes, Stephen Breyer sided with the majority. Yes, this all looks incredibly bad if you think that race should be at least as allowable a consideration for admission as whether or not an applicant’s daddy went to the school.

But nothing is f**ked here dude. Not really. Colleges will still use some form of race-conscious admissions policies, even state schools. Affirmative action works and nothing that happened today will change that. The Court just made it more likely that admissions committees will have to get creative when putting together a diverse class of students…

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Jodi Arias

* Retired Justice John Paul Stevens isn’t exactly too thrilled about the Supreme Court’s opinion in McCutcheon v. FEC: “The voter is less important than the man who provides money to the candidate. It’s really wrong.” [New York Times]

* Neil Eggleston, a Kirkland & Ellis partner who served as a lawyer in the Clinton administration, has been named as replacement for Kathryn Ruemmler as White House Counsel. Please, Mr. Eggleston, we need to know about your shoes. [Associated Press]

* The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office says the D&L trial could last for four months or more. Dewey know who one witness could be? Yup, the partner who allegedly shagged a spy. [Am Law Daily]

* Thanks to the turn of the tide in DOMA-related litigation, a gay widower from Australia is petitioning USCIS to approve his marriage-based green card application, 39 years after it was first denied. [Advocate]

* Here are three reasons your law school application was rejected: 1) you’re not a special snowflake; 2) your LSAT/GPA won’t game the rankings; and 3) LOL your essay. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News]

* No, Jodi Arias didn’t get Hep C in jail and file a lawsuit to get a restraining order against Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Nancy Grace. We have a feeling we know who did. We’ve missed you, Jonathan Lee Riches. [UPI]

* Mistrial declared after defendant shot in the chest in front of the jury. Judge, remarkably, phrases it like it wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately, a few minutes ago the FBI confirmed that the defendant has died of his wounds. [USA Today]

* Here are some signs you were meant to be a lawyer. They’re actually not all that great. Probably should have included: “You padded your hours when your mom asked how much time you’ve spent on your homework” or “You introduced your little brother as your associate… and your pets as paralegals.” [Survive Law]

* 21 Jump Fail. Cops embed a 20-something officer in a high school to pester special-needs kid into selling drugs. Judge is not amused. He probably saw the Channing Tatum/Jonah Hill version. [Rolling Stone]

* Prosecutors told a guy to let a newspaper write about his drunk driving case as part of the plea deal. They’re really trying anything to save print media aren’t they? [Jim Romensesko]

* If you went to law school in New York, then the job market’s a little better for you this year. Sorry, rest of the country. [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]

* Congratulations to Paul Lo, who became the first Hmong judge in U.S. [Merced Sun Star]

* The Aereo case going before the Supreme Court in one helpful video after the jump… [Bloomberg News]

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And amazingly, this is the proper use of the word “literally.”

This morning in Morning Docket we learned that Justice Ginsburg demurs on the question of whether or not Edward Snowden is a traitor. It’s a prudent move on Her Honor’s part. Even if Snowden never returns to face U.S. courts, it’s only a matter of time before another whistleblower exposes another government project and Justice Ginsburg wants to avoid appearing biased in any way whatsoever. After all, Judge Shira Scheindlin got thrown off a case for bias because she publicly said she wasn’t biased in favor of one side. The appearance of impropriety and all that.

Meanwhile, RBG’s best buddy on the Court has no such qualms about the appearance of impropriety. After all, Justice Scalia saw no reason to recuse himself from cases when he’s gone on vacations with the litigant.

And on the question of committing traitorous acts, Justice Scalia threw his oath to the wind and told a gathering to go ahead and become domestic threats to the Constitution….

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Edward Snowden

* When asked whether she thought Edward Snowden was “a whistleblower or a traitor,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg politely declined to answer — justices of the Supreme Court don’t just give previews of their opinions. [CNN]

* Ed Siskel recently left his role as deputy counsel in the Office of White House Counsel. It’s anyone’s guess which Biglaw firm added Gene Siskel’s nephew to its practice. Hopefully it’ll get a thumbs-up. [Politics Now / Los Angeles Times]

* It’s a “tale of two law schools”: the kind that place their students in jobs and the kind that let them languish in unemployment or underemployment. More on this tomorrow. [National Law Journal]

* Two NYU Law students’ emails were subpoenaed after they denounced the business activities of one of the law school’s trustees. Now, we’re not going to say that the school picked a side, but… [DNAinfo]

* Congrats, you can “Like” General Mills all you want without fear of arbitration. The company was so overwhelmed by negative consumer response that it withdrew its new legal terms. [New York Times]

* ATTENTION LAW STUDENTS: Tomorrow is the last day to enter our annual Law Revue competition. The deadline is tomorrow at 5 so send them in. Entries have been coming in all day, so don’t get left out. [Above the Law]

* It looks like the Supreme Court just made a decision even worse than McCutcheon. [SCOTUSBlog]

* New York’s disciplinary procedures for lawyers are “deficient in design and operation.” So come to New York if you plan on being a shady lawyer, I guess. [NY Times]

* More on the law school apology by Erwin Chemerinsky and Carrie Menkel-Meadow that Lat wrote about yesterday. [The Write Stuff]

* And, hey, while we’re at it, here’s Steven J. Harper’s take on the same Op-Ed. [The Lawyer Bubble]

* UC Hastings Professor Osagie Obasogie is quoted in this informative piece about the changing nature of collegiate debate as it ventures more and more into the domain of critical race theory. As one of the people who helps run the CEDA tournament discussed in the article, I thought this was an interesting account. [The Atlantic]

* FBI makes a cheesy video to teach young Americans not to spy for China. It’s really worth a watch. [National Journal]

* A high school teacher in Australia won a defamation suit against a student who said mean things on Facebook. [IT-Lex]

* The Legal Broadcast Network interviewed Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency about how improved tools help law students. [Legal Broadcast Network]

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