SCOTUS

* Johnson & Johnson will have to fix several factories after an agreement with the FDA prompted by massive product recalls. This still doesn’t explain why my bottle of Tylenol may contain tree nuts. [Bloomberg]

* Charlie Sheen hammered out a custody agreement With Brooke Mueller. That’s nice. [People Magazine]

* Texas may consider a law that would make losers pay attorneys’ fees. Easy, New York Mets. Not all losers. Just those who lose lawsuits. [New York Times]

* A discussion of the legal complaints lodged against the Wisconsin Legislature for Wednesday night’s votes. You know who’s not complaining? This guy. [Wisconsin State Journal]

* A former assistant attorney general from Maine was sentenced yesterday in a child porn case. This is definitely the year of the assistant AG. [ABA Journal]

Happy Birthday Nino

* Not all people living in Idaho are racists, duh. Some are gangsters from Boston. [New York Times]

* Law firm profits and productivity were up in 2010, while demand was flat and revenue was modestly up. Someone named Dan DiPietro and someone named Gretta Rusanow tag-teamed a report all about it. [Am Law Daily]

* A former McGuireWoods partner pleaded guilty to falsifying a tax document. [ABA Journal]

* Linda Greenhouse wishes Justice Scalia a happy 75th birthday. Sort of. [The Opinionator / New York Times]

If I was a Supreme Court Justice, I’d take all the buffet’s individually-wrapped butters. I answer to no manager!

Stephen Colbert, discussing the lack of mandatory ethical rules for justices of the Supreme Court (gavel bang: BL1Y).

One day, after I had been questioned for weeks at a time, I was so frustrated I looked at my assistant and said ‘I think they already know the color of my underwear.’

– Justice Sonia Sotomayor, complaining about the intrusive questioning she was subjected to during the Supreme Court nomination process, in an appearance yesterday at Northwestern Law.

Lindsay Lohan

* Obama has created an indefinite detention system for prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. Because he’s too soft on terrorism to make it definite. [Washington Post]

* Utah’s new immigration laws will create a legal storm. El Niño! Spanish for The… Niño! [USA Today]

* Lilo finally starred in another movie, and former wet poodle perm enthusiast Marcia Clark is here to break it down for you. [Entertainment Tonight News]

* Hiring partners have entered the U.S. News rankings fray. Number 1? Yep, Cooley. [U.S. News & World Report]

Charlie Sheen

* Some New Yorkers are suing over a bike lane in Brooklyn. Four wheels good, two wheels bad! [New York Times]

* “Pow! Appeals court upholds comic con’s guilty plea.” [New York Post]

* Charlie Sheen’s attorney isn’t wasting any time fighting Tiger Blood’s dismissal from that show he starred in with Duckie and the lumpy kid. [Hollywood Reporter; New York City Employment Lawyer]

* Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether Congress may take works out of the public domain and slap a copyright on them. I’m never going to fill this Zune up if I can’t score some free Stravinsky. [Wired News]

DNA is pretty, oh so pretty.

* The Supreme Court opens the door, but just a crack, to prisoners seeking access to DNA evidence. [SCOTUSblog]

* The legal job market is getting better, right? Right? [Vault]

* Hall, J., dissenting — from the grave. [How Appealing]

* Harvard Law School is always ready for its close-up: first The Paper Chase, then Legally Blonde, and now The Five Hundred. [Deadline.com]

* Are computers better than attorneys at document review? Maybe — but they’re definitely more attractive. [Constitutional Daily]

* Protip for litigators: “Pull Your Pants Up Before Going to Court.” [Gothamist]

* Elsewhere in fashion news, a Seventh Circuit panel (Posner, J.) holds that it’s constitutionally protected to wear a t-shirt that says “Be Happy Not Gay” to your high school. But it’s still really… gay. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Litigation to advance a worthy cause (although it seems odd, in a “cart before the horse” sort of way, to file the press releases before the actual lawsuit). [The Snitch / SF Weekly]

* Blawg Review #301: it’s all about communication. [Not Guilty via Blawg Review]

* Congratulations to Professor Brian Fitzpatrick of Vanderbilt Law on receiving the 2011 Paul M. Bator Award (won previously by a long list of blawg celebrities, including M. Todd Henderson, Orin Kerr, Jonathan Adler, Eugene Volokh, and Randy Barnett). [Federalist Society]

* Wesley Snipes wants the Supreme Court to review his conviction. Or maybe he’s just doing research because he wants the lead role in a Clarence Thomas biopic: The Silence. [TaxProf Blog]

* Congratulations to David Rivkin of Debevoise & Plimpton — a man who I remember as having great seats at Shea Stadium — for scoring one for the Americans. [Am Law Daily]

* Speaking of Debevoise, I probably could have used these tips on how to resign gracefully from my former firm. Instead, I think I stood up in the middle of a conference room and started shouting, “give us, us free.” [Corporette]

* Why do law school administrators act like telling the truth is one option among many, instead of a professional responsibility? [Vault]

* You can pick up a sex slave at the Super Bowl? [Change Makers]

* Doesn’t New York State understand that judges are kind of important? [New York Personal Injury Law Blog]

* Honestly, do you think that the diversity rationale for affirmative action also justifies having a preference for white males in some situations? [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Ha ha. Northwestern college kids need to see a live sex act in order to learn. [Reuters]

* If you’re on Facebook — and who isn’t? — feel free to “like” Above the Law. We’ll be getting busy on FB in the weeks ahead (like we already are on Twitter, @ATLblog). [Facebook]

Southwestern Bell payphone with new AT&T signage

Not human enough to warrant 'personal privacy'

There’s some good news this week for those people whose blood boils at the mention of Citizens United. The Supreme Court proved that it is not always sympathetic to the rights of corporations — and is even willing to have some fun at their expense.

Chief Justice John Roberts penned a tongue-in-cheek opinion lambasting AT&T lawyers’ legal reasoning that has Dahlia Lithwick at Slate asking whether Roberts is the funniest justice ever. (Cue a scowl here from the legions of Scalia lovers in the audience.)

The case at the heart of the hilarity is FCC v. AT&T. The telephone company was involved in a billing practices investigation in 2004, in which it paid a $500,000 fine but admitted no wrongdoing. Some clever rivals at CompTel — a trade association representing some of AT&T’s competitors — wanted to take advantage of FOIA to get documents from the investigation and find out more about AT&T’s inner workings and alleged wrongdoing.

AT&T claimed protection under the Freedom of Information Act’s “personal privacy” exemption. A lower court was sympathetic to AT&T: “Corporations, like human beings, face public embarrassment, harassment and stigma” when they get involved with investigations by authorities. In other words: artificial persons have feelings too!

The Supreme Court did not agree. John Roberts whipped out a can of dictionary definitions to explain why corporations aren’t entitled to “personal privacy.”

Read on at Forbes….

* Marc Randazza wants to feed the members of the Westboro Baptist Church into a wood chipper, but he respects their First Amendment rights; accordingly, “the Westboro Baptist Church is the first entity to receive both the First Amendment Bad Ass award and the Asshat award in a single blog post.” [The Legal Satyricon]

* Everyone’s talking about the Westboro Baptist Church case, but don’t overlook Chief Justice Roberts’s hilarious opinion in FCC v. AT&T, rejecting a corporation’s claim of privacy rights under FOIA (contrary to the alarmist predictions of certain overwrought, Citizens United-obsessed liberals). [Slate]

* Speaking of noteworthy cases, check out the latest precedent of Zoopreme Court: Justice Under Paws. [Zoopreme Court]

* New New Hampshire motto: Leave my junk free or die. [Huffington Post]

* Musical chairs: three real-estate partners leave Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago for Latham & Watkins. Speaking of these firms, will either pay spring bonuses? [Chicago Tribune]

* Meanwhile, on the South Side, UofC Law is encouraging young black high schoolers to go to law school. If B (# of black students) < P (Posner) + L (Liberals), then you've got to do some outreach. [University of Chicago Law School]

* If you enjoyed our recent post about Chief Judge Kozinski’s taste in movies, you can check out all of his mini-reviews over here. [IMDb]

* Some reflections by Jane Genova on politics, law firms, and the power game. [Law and More]

Westboro Baptist Church might be protected under the First Amendment. But maybe we can nail them for child abuse?

The Supreme Court just handed down its decision in the Westboro Baptist Church case, Snyder v. Phelps. The court ruled, 8-1, that the father of a slain Marine could not successfully sue the Westboro church in tort for protesting during his son’s funeral.

Call it Free Speech 101. The hard part about the First Amendment is that you have to allow people to say all manner of annoying, vulgar, and inappropriate things, at the wrong times.

Not that Justice Samuel Alito thinks so. Justice Alito was the lone dissenter in this case. He was also the lone dissenter in the Stevens case, in which the Court overturned a ban on animal crush videos on First Amendment grounds. But he voted with the majority in Citizens United.

I can’t wait until Sam “Not True” Alito writes a book or something explaining why regular people don’t deserve the free speech given to American corporations and sitting Supreme Court justices….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Unless You Are a Corporation, Sam Alito Wants You to STFU”

And what I think is important for you all, is that when you see people standing in defense of what’s right, that you make sure that your voice is not remembered as one of the silent. Because there’s gonna be a day when you’re gonna look around and you’re gonna look at your kids and your grandkids and they’re gonna ask you a question: What happened to the great country that was here when you grew up, and why isn’t it here now, and what did you do?

– Justice Clarence Thomas, in the powerful keynote address he delivered over the weekend at UVA Law, at the 30th annual student symposium of the Federalist Society (Politico via WSJ Law Blog).

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