SCOTUS

Supreme Court hallway Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law.JPGSupreme Court clerk hiring is once again in the news. This subject, usually of interest just to hard-core legal nerds, migrated over to the mainstream media in Jeffrey Toobin’s recent New Yorker profile of Justice John Paul Stevens. Toobin cleverly used the topic of clerk hiring as a backdoor way of getting at JPS’s retirement plans:

With the election of Barack Obama, the question of Stevens’s retirement has become more pressing. Even though Stevens was appointed by a Republican President, many assume that he would never willingly have turned his seat over to George W. Bush. I asked Stevens about his plans.

“Well, I still have my options open,” he said. “When I decided to just hire one clerk, three of my four clerks last year said they’d work for me next year if I wanted them to. So I have my options still. And then I’ll have to decide soon.” On March 8th, he told me that he would make up his mind in about a month.

April 8 is just around the corner. If you hear of Justice Stevens re-hiring his former clerks (or hiring new clerks) for October 2010, please let us know.

In an interesting online chat with Toobin about his JPS profile, the subject of clerk hiring came up again….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Supreme Court Clerk Hiring Watch: Dukies Do Well; Alito Is Done”

Sorry, we didn’t mean to get your hopes up (or maybe we did). The famously sphinx-like Justice Thomas did not ask a question at oral argument yesterday — but he did open his mouth and emit hearty laughs. From CNN:

Sometimes the most complicated of cases at the Supreme Court brings out the best arguments. It certainly brought out the giggles in a little-watched appeal Tuesday over federal prison terms.

The justices managed to crack themselves up — along with the public audience — at least a dozen times in the hour-long oral debate. Justice Clarence Thomas rarely speaks at the high court’s normally sober sessions, but he especially enjoyed the gentle insults and self-deprecating jibes his colleagues showered on each other. His booming laugh could be clearly heard at times.

So what gave CT a case of the chuckles during Barber v. Thomas?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Amusing Oral Argument: Justice Thomas Opens His Mouth, and Justice Sotomayor Struggles With Math”

When I first read this headline on the ABA Journal this morning, I became very excited:

Poll Finds 55% Would Support Openly Gay Justice

Gay Justice? How awesome! Justice is way too straight. Basic black letter laws and stuffy proceedings. It’d be far more exciting and visually interesting if Lady Justice was a little bit more… flamboyant. I’ve been to gay Halloween and it’s a lot more fun.

Sadly, my hopes for plastering pink triangles on courthouses were dashed when I actually clicked on the link. A Vanity Fair/CBS News poll found that 55% of Americans would support an openly gay Supreme Court justice, while 40% of those polled would oppose an openly gay SCOTUS nominee. That’s boring. All that shows is that 40% of poll respondents are raging homophobes. I’m pretty sure we didn’t need Vanity Fair to tell us that.

The only question is whether Obama will enrage the anti-gay people with his next SCOTUS nominee…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Gay Justice Could Be Coming”

mike sacks first one.jpgWelcome to Part II of First One @ One First‘s Guide to Scoring a SCOTUS Seat. My name is Mike Sacks and I am a Georgetown 3L and proprietor of F1@1F, where I write about my adventures from the front of the general admission line for the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in cases of public interest and political salience.
Last week, I gave you all the information you need to be at the head of the line. But getting there is only the start of the full experience. After the jump, I give you some tips to maximize your morning.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “First One @ One First’s Guide to SCOTUS Seats, Part II: What to Expect?”

Supreme Court 6 Above the Law blog.JPGIn our recent caption contest, there were quite a few captions that alluded to the members of the Supreme Court being in bed with conservatives. As we reported this morning, Clarence Thomas is most definitely in bed with a conservative. Ginni Thomas is the President and CEO of the newly launched 501(c)(4), Liberty Central Inc., with the mission statement to “serve the big tent of the conservative movement.”
Since the judiciary prefers the appearance of nonpartisanship, the Los Angeles Times found her Tea Party-inspired group worth covering:

“I think the American public expects the justices to be out of politics,” said University of Texas law school professor Lucas A. “Scot” Powe, a court historian.
He said the expectations for spouses are far less clear. “I really don’t know because we’ve never seen it,” Powe said. Under judicial rules, judges must curb political activity, but a spouse is free to engage.

Not shockingly, Clarence Thomas has nothing to say about this. Eugene Volokh points out that Ginni Thomas is far from the first politically-engaged judicial spouse:

Of course, Justice Thomas is not the only judge to have had a spouse in a prominent political role. Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt’s wife, Ramona Ripston, has just stepped down from being head of the Southern California ACLU. Third Circuit Judge Jane Roth’s husband was a U.S. Senator; Third Circuit Judge Marjorie Rendell’s husband is a governor. So I’m not sure that there’s really a judicial norm that judge’s spouses should stay out of politics, whether partisan politics, advocacy group politics, or public interest litigation (itself a form of politics, at least when done effectively).

All this talk of justices’ second halves made us think it was time for a rundown of the other Supreme spouses. The Honorable Husbands and Wives, and their careers, after the jump.

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virginia ginni and clarence thomas.jpgWhen we’ve heard in the past about Virginia Lamp Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, it was usually as his fellow RV road warrior. But Ginni Thomas is now much more high-profile. The Los Angeles Times reported this weekend that she has launched Liberty Central Inc., a conservative non-profit inspired by the Tea Party movement.

From the organization’s website:

LibertyCentral.org will serve the big tent of the conservative movement and assist all viable individuals and organizations with education and engagement. The site’s primary focus will be on emerging and new citizen activists – helping them discover a viable path to effective and efficient activism, along with an understanding of why their participation matters in accordance with founding principles and limited Constitutional governance.

Experts tell the L.A. Times that Thomas’ work doesn’t violate ethical rules for judges, but that it could give rise to conflicts of interest for her husband.

People are already pointing out that the 5-4 decision in Citizens United cleared the way for Liberty Central to fill its coffers with corporate cash.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Mrs. Clarence Thomas Hosts Her Own Tea Party”

mike sacks first one.jpgMy name is Mike Sacks. I am a 3L at Georgetown and creator of First One @ One First, where I write about my adventures from the front of the general admission line for the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in cases of public interest and political salience. After the New York Times covered my exploits in the McDonald v. City of Chicago line last week, Above the Law honored me as its Law Student of the Day.

And then Kash took advantage of me.

She approached me at my most vulnerable moment, fatigued from my twenty-six hour Court campout and under deadline for an argument write-up with the ABA Journal, and asked me to provide a “tutorial for how to score a seat for a SCOTUS argument.”

In other words, she requested that I exchange my very closely kept trade secrets for thousands of hits at F1@1F and a slew of trolls below this post.

I needed clarity–a bright moral line–to cut through my sleepless haze and save my principles from ATL’s temptation. I needed Justice Scalia.

But Justice Scalia, only hours before, killed his credibility when he openly embraced “substantive due process,” the living constitutionalists’ darling device for abortion- and gay-rights, rather than face the liberal consequences of an originalist reading of a resurrected Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

That sealed it. If Scalia could imperil his legacy for the sake of convenient results, then so could I.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “First One @ One First’s Guide to SCOTUS Seats, Part I: When to Arrive?”

A question started percolating around the ATL offices this morning (your ATL editors do work out of an office, at least since our moms kicked us out of the basement): Is Kathleen Sullivan the FIRST female named partner in the Am Law 100?

We figured that surely there was at least one other firm that had a female partner with her name in lights. But we’ve thought about it, conferred with the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, and googled around a little, and so far we’ve come up empty.

According to a spokesperson from Quinn Emanuel, Kathleen Sullivan is the Alpha female of the Am Law 100:

We believe she is the first female partner to be a named partner in the Am Law 100.

Is this possible? Were all of the top 100 firms named after old white men until today? All of them?

If you know of an exception, send us an email or put it in the comments. Please tell us that we didn’t have to wait until 2010 to cross this threshold. Regardless, we’re always happy to see a woman on top.

Earlier: CHECK YOU FIRM NAME: Quinn Emanuel Adds Kathleen Sullivan to the Stationery

An ATL favorite, Quinn Emanuel, is making a change to its firm name. From the Quinn press release:

John B. Quinn announced today that the firm he and Eric Emanuel founded 25 years ago will change its name, and henceforth be known as Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP. The decision to add Kathleen M. Sullivan as a name partner was made in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the firm and the profession. Sullivan is a partner in the firm’s New York City office and heads the firm’s national appellate practice.

Congratulations to former Stanford Law School dean Sullivan.

Of course, now that she’s a name partner, we are eagerly awaiting for the ATL community to honor Kathleen Sullivan with her own meme. John Quinn doesn’t use capital letters. Bill Urquhart … really likes capital letters. We can’t wait to see what Sullivan comes up with.

Read the full press release, plus an UPDATE with some observations from Lat, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “CHECK YOU FIRM NAME: Quinn Emanuel Adds Kathleen Sullivan to the Stationery”

Westboro party.JPGI love it when America takes popular beliefs about the liberal and conservative agenda, throws those platforms on their heads, and then leaves it up to the Supreme Court to makes sense of the resulting mess.
This fall, SCOTUS will try to restore a sense of order to our national infighting when it tackles Snyder v. Phelps. The case revolves around anti-gay protesters who have been showing up at military funerals to cheer the deaths of American soldiers who “defend homosexuality.”
That’s right, because when I think of a flamboyant institution that is the tool of the gay agenda, I naturally think of the Marines. The Huffington Post explains:

The funeral for Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder in Westminster, Md., was among many that have been picketed by members of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. Westboro pastor Fred Phelps and other members have used the funeral protests to spread their belief that U.S. deaths in the Iraq war are punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality. One of the signs at Snyder’s funeral combined the U.S. Marine Corps motto with a slur against gay men.
Other signs carred by members of the Topeka, Kan.-based church said, “America is Doomed,” “God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11,” “Priests Rape Boys” and “Thank God for IEDs,” a reference to the roadside bombs that have killed many U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, if I’m a liberal that loves the First amendment and gays, what am I supposed to do? If I’m a conservative who loves the military but thinks that the missionary position is God’s will, whom do I punish? Oh dear, it’s so confusing.
Thankfully, we have a body of nine people who are not swayed by such base political leanings, right?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Westboro Whack Jobs Will Get Their Day in Front of SCOTUS”

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