In late June, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of white New Haven firefighters and their claims of racial discrimination. The SCOTUS decision in Ricci v. DeStefano overturned an earlier decision by then-2nd Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor.
Given the SCOTUS decision, I should have seen the lawsuit by a black New Haven firefighter coming. It’s such an obvious reaction to SCOTUS that I’m surprised it took this long. Here’s the introduction to the complaint:
The 2003 New Haven fire lieutenant examination had two parts: a multiple-choice written test and an oral exam. Ranking on the eligibility list depended on how the City chose to weight the scores on the two components. The oral exam was a better way to assess candidates’ skills and abilities than the written test and had less disparate impact on African-Americans. Yet the City chose to weight the written test 60 percent and the oral exam 40 percent. This weighting reduced the validity of the overall selection process; it was arbitrarily chosen, without any pretense that it was job related; it was contrary to standard practice among similar public safety agencies, where the norm is to weight the oral component 70 percent; it had a disparate impact on African-American candidates; and it will prevent the plaintiff from being promoted to the rank of lieutenant, even though he is one of the most highly qualified candidates.
Apparently, this plaintiff had the highest score on the oral exam. But once the written exam was factored in, the plaintiff was ranked 24th and not eligible for promotion.
The disparate impact of “cramming,” after the jump.
The Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Health Watch continues. This just in, from the AP:
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had cancer surgery earlier this year, was briefly hospitalized overnight after having a bad reaction to some medicine.
A statement from the court says Ginsburg was taken to the Washington Hospital Center Wednesday night and released Thursday morning.
Doctors say Ginsburg had an adverse reaction to a sleeping aid combined with cold medicine. She took the medicine in preparation for an overnight flight to London, but was taken off the airplane after she experienced extreme drowsiness causing her to fall from her seat.
* At the Supreme Court, much ado about a cross. [Washington Post (Robert Barnes); Washington Post (Dana Milbank)]
* Former Heller Ehrman partners deny that the firm was insolvent in 2007. [Am Law Daily]
* The new Honduran government, which came to power through a coup, has hired lawyers and law firms — including Lanny Davis, who recently moved from Orrick to McDermott — to defend its legitimacy. [New York Times]
* And there may be more work for antitrust lawyers, thanks to a new Justice Department invesitgation of IBM. [Reuters]
* Key Democratic lawyers agree to allow Guantanamo detainees to be transferred to the U.S. for trial. [Washington Post]
* Prosecutors drop one victim from the case, but Judge Herman “Who Needs A Spanking?” Thomas still faces charges dozens of counts related to 14 other victims. [CNN]
* No, it’s not your imagination: Gov. Jon Corzine’s campaign commercials are making fun of former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (pictured) for being fat. (Disclosure: We worked as an AUSA under Christie from 2003 until 2006.) [New York Times]
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is not really retired yet. “I am more busy in retirement than before,” she told Above the Law in a recent interview. One of her myriad projects is Our Courts, a non-profit organization that develops Web-based games to teach seventh- and eighth-graders about government. We spoke with Justice O’Connor recently for our piece for the Washington Post reviewing the games.
We had hoped to actually play the games with her, but it turns out she’s not much of a gamer. Not being the computer type, she hasn’t actually played the Web-based games herself. “I watched young people play it. They have a lot of fun. They’re actively engaged. I think it’s very exciting,” she told us.
Justice O’Connor has been touring the country to promote the games. She even stopped in to chat with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. We got to catch up with her via conference call last month. We rung her up at One First Street — like some retired Biglaw partners, retired SCOTUS justices get to keep an office. After her secretary connected us, Justice O’Connor answered the phone: “Sandra Day O’Connor.”
We discovered that O’Connor is adamant about bringing an end to the election of judges in America. Read more from our interview, after the jump.
In February of this year, Senator Jim Bunning predicted that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would be dead in nine months from pancreatic cancer. It was a horrible and tasteless prediction, for which Senator Bunning apologized. But might he be right? Here’s the latest news about Justice Ginsburg’s health. From the Associated Press:
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was hospitalized Thursday after becoming ill in her office at the court following treatment for an iron deficiency.
The 76-year-old justice, who underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer in February, was taken to Washington Hospital Center at 7:45 p.m. EDT as a precaution, a statement from the court said.
The current New Yorker has an interesting piece by Jeffrey Toobin on President Obama’s judicial picks. Toobin took part in a live chat about the piece at NewYorker.com right nowearlier todayif you’re interested. (Try not to crash their website.). UPDATE: The chat’s quite interesting. Toobin reveals why he likes Justice Souter best and answers this young wannabe judge’s question:
11:31 Guest: I’m a 25 year old law student, I want to be a judge, and my roommate smokes pot. How worried should I be? Do you think people will still care when I’m older?
11:32 Jeffrey Toobin: Don’t inhale! I’m kidding. I don’t think it will make a bit of difference. Our president has more or less admitted he was a pretty big pothead in his day, and it’s been a non-issue. Certainly the fact that your roommate smokes — not you — is irrelevant.
Toobin’s piece is available online to non-subscribers here. If you don’t feel like clicking through seven pages, here’s the ATL reader’s digest version:
Aging liberal judges hung on through the Bush era, but once a Dem took over, they were ready to hang up their robes. Additionally, since 2006, Senator Patrick Leahy has prevented Bush’s nominees from getting through the Judiciary Committee. Now vacancies abound in the federal judiciary.
Bush kicked ass in choosing judges; Obama is taking his sweet time. In the first eight months of their respective terms, Bush nominated 52 judges while Obama has chosen 17.
Obama says he’s looking for “experiential diversity” in his judicial nominations: “not just judges and prosecutors but public defenders and lawyers in private practice.” But his first batch of nominees are mainly former judges, like SCOTUS justice Sonia Sotomayor and Indianapolis federal district judge David Hamilton, nominated by Obama to the Seventh Circuit.
More bullets, after the jump.
Those law students at Fordham University have a new tidbit to add to their dossier on SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia. He made an appearance last night at the Friendship Heights Village Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, to talk about his book, “Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges.” Politico reports that he gave out some pieces of advice, namely:
“Don’t beat a dead horse.”
“Be brief. And when your time expires, shut up and sit down.”
Avoid acronyms in brief writing and oral arguments.
Lawyers should study a judge’s background and likes and dislikes before they appear in court. “At the very least, these details will humanize the judge before you, so that you will be arguing to a human being instead of a chair.”
That last bit of advice can be taken too far, of course. Nino was annoyed when he found out about Fordham Law’s background research on him earlier this year.
Justice Scalia was willing to add to the files, though, revealing his favorite legal movie. What is it?
Who can forget Quinn Emanuel’s victory in the 17-year-long dispute over the name “Redskins”? Above the Law readers will remember Robert Raskopf’s happy victory email … and the first-year associate who had a problem with the firm’s representation of the Washington Football club. The first year was (eek!) fired for reasons unrelated to his disagreement with the firm’s position.
But is the firm’s position as strong as Raskopf thought? The Blog of the Legal Times reports that the Redskins case has made it all the way to the Supreme Court:
The long-running dispute over the appropriateness of the “Redskins” name for the Washington D.C. NFL football franchise reached the Supreme Court today. Philip Mause, partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath in D.C., representing a group of Native Americans offended by the name, filed a petition for certiorari in the case titled Susan Harjo v. Pro-Football, Inc.
Was Raskopf’s victory email premature? More details, plus an UPDATE about the Native Americans’ game plan if SCOTUS doesn’t want to play, after the jump.
Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.
Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.
To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.
My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:
So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.
Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.
You have been rejected.
The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.
No, this isn’t a pre-party before we come back next fall for the real thing. This IS the real thing. Quinn Emanuel is pushing the envelope on recruiting. The party is now. This is when you meet the partners and associates face to face. This is when we begin the dance that could land you an offer for your second summer BEFORE school starts in the fall.
First: You come to the party. Second: If you like us, you send your resume after June 1, 2014. Third: If we like each other, you get an offer.
We’re not waiting for fall. We’re not doing the twenty minute thing. This party is the real thing!
We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to meeting you.
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