Senate Judiciary Committee

Specter Switches parties.jpgArlen Specter (R-PA), is switching parties. Politico reports:

Republican Sen. Arlen Specter is switching parties so he can run in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary, abandoning his party because he does not want to be “judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate.”

Specter is the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee (chaired by Patrick Leahy).

It will be interesting to see who replaces him as the Republican leader against future Obama judicial nominations. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) used to chair the committee. John Kyl (R-AZ) has been making a lot of news. Chuck Grassley recently became famous for his stance on banker suicide. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) might be a little young for the post.

The early money on the street is on Kyl. The Republican party seems to be listing right and Kyl has been out in front of that movement.

The back and forth on the Judiciary is important for lawyers (how much fun do you think Elena Kagan is having today), but obviously the bigger news is that Specter could be the 60th Senate vote for the soon-to-be filibuster proof Obama agenda.

The move stands to put the White House’s agenda on a fast track — and to renew hopes among organized labor for the Employee Free Choice Act.

The move also raises the stakes for the resolution of the Minnesota Senate race and may tempt Republicans to drag that fight on further.

Political expediency could be the name of the game for Specter. More details after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Arlen Specter, Ranking Republican Member on Senate Judiciary, Switches Parties”

Eric Holder Attorney General Eric H Holder Eric Himpton Holder Jr.jpgThe confirmation hearings for Eric Holder as attorney general just started.

We’ll try to keep an eye on it for you and update you with interesting news and notes. Especially when the Specter in the punch bowl speaks up.

So far Holder has said the word “independent” twice and now we’re going through the list of black people who were shot in the sixties.

Update (10:31): Let me paraphrase question 1:

LEAHY: Waterboarding mutherf***** do you believe in it?

HOLDER: Waterboarding is torture.

LEAHY: Gonzales! Are you named GONZALES?

HOLDER: Waterboarding is torture.

Update (10:56): Round 1 of Specter v. Holder involved both fighters feeling each other out. Lots of clenching, no haymakers:

SPECTER: Let me remind everybody who Marc Rich is and why he’s a terrible person.

(time passes, seasons change …)

Mr. Holder, did you know about this?

HOLDER: Nope. My bad.

LEAHY: Time!

Score the round 10-10.

Meanhwhile Sen. Herbet Kohl (who also owns the Milwaukee Bucks) wants to know if Holder can ball with Obama. As commenter #5 might point out “that question would never have been asked if Holder was white.”

More updates after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Eric Holder: It’s On”

Barack Obama Joe Biden Democratic presidential ticket 2008.jpgIn a text message sent out at around 3 a.m. today, Senator Barack Obama announced his running mate: Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., of Delaware.
Lawyers should be happy with Obama’s veep pick. There are lots of legal angles to Senator Biden:

  • like Obama (Harvard Law ’91), Joe Biden is a lawyer by training (Syracuse Law ’68);
  • he practiced law in Wilmington, Delaware, for a few years (before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972, at age 29);
  • since 1991, he’s taught a seminar in constitutional law at Widener University School of Law; and
  • he’s a longtime member, and former chairman (1987-1995), of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Legal background aside, are you happy with Joe Biden as Obama’s VP nominee? Sound off, in the comments.
Biography: Joe Biden [Senator Joe Biden (official website)]
Obama chooses Sen. Joe Biden to be running mate [CNN]

Michael Mukasey small Chief Judge Michael B Mukasey SDNY Above the Law blog.jpgThe Senate Judiciary Committee just voted in favor of the nomination of Michael Mukasey to serve as attorney general. The tally was 11-8, with two Democrats — Sens. Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein — joining all the Republicans in supporting him.
What had been looking like a nailbiter of a nomination should sail through the full Senate fairly easily. The floor vote on the nomination should take place by next week.
Congratulations, Judge Mukasey!
Nomination of Mukasey Sent to Full Senate [New York Times]
Panel Sends Mukasey Nomination to Senate [Washington Post]

LEWW logo.jpgWe had a tough time picking our finalist couples this week, and LEWW will be the first to admit that we’re not totally certain we chose the right three. (We’re sure our commenters and e-mailers will let us know if we’ve dropped the ball.) Specifically, in addition to our three finalists, we considered these three couples, and if you work at Shearman, Simpson Thacher, Wachtell, Willkie, or Ropes & Gray, you might want to click on those links to read about your colleagues or their spawn.
But onward to this week’s finalists! Here they are:

1.) Nisa Leung and James Lin
2.) Beth Schonmuller and John Williams
3.) Virginia Boyd and J. B. Lockhart IV

More on these couples, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 10.7.07: Sweet Virginia”

Michael Mukasey Chief Judge Michael B Mukasey SDNY Above the Law blog.jpgAre you trying to remember whether any of your law school classmates or colleagues clerked for former judge Michael Mukasey (S.D.N.Y.), President Bush’s nominee to replace Alberto Gonzales as attorney general?
Well, you’re in luck. Every single one of Judge Mukasey’s former law clerks signed a glowing letter of recommendation for the judge, in which they praise him as a jurist and mentor and urge his speedy confirmation as AG. Their letter was transmitted to the Senate last night.
You can check out the letter, including the list of signatories, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Michael Mukasey’s Former Clerks: They Like Him, They Really Like Him”

Larry Craig small Larry E Craig Larry Edwin Craig gay senator Idaho Above the Law blog.jpgHere’s a little riddle: What do these three senators have in common?

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho)

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

First, they’re all Republican senators from underpopulated sparsely populated states.
Second, they’ve all run into ethical, legal, or political problems. You know all about Senator Craig — in fact, more than you ever wanted to. As for Senator Stevens, see here and here. As for Senator Murkowski, see here.
What’s the third thing they have in common? Find out, after the jump.

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Ted Olson Lady Booth Above the Law.JPGBack on Tuesday, it was widely rumored that an attorney general nomination announcement was imminent — and that the nominee was going to be former Solicitor General Ted Olson (pictured at right, at his wedding last year).
But we had our doubts. We opined that Olson, confirmed as SG by a narrow 51-47 margin, might be a tough sell in a Democratic Senate.
That opinion looks increasingly solid. From today’s Washington Post:

The Senate majority leader said yesterday that Democrats would block former solicitor general Theodore B. Olson from becoming attorney general, kicking off a spirited nomination debate even before the White House has named a candidate.

“Ted Olson will not be confirmed,” Sen. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement. “I intend to do everything I can to prevent him from being confirmed as the next attorney general.”

So it seems that, with respect to Ted Olson, the Dems are throwing down the gauntlet. Why so hostile? Are they upset they didn’t get invited to Olson’s fabulous, star-studded wedding?
More after the jump.

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Alberto Gonzales 5 Alberto R Gonzales Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* How to try and pull a fast one on the entire NBA. [Slate]
* AGAG testimony called “splitting hairs.” [CNN]
* Vick co-defendant to have plea hearing. [Sports Illustrated]
* Morning Docket’s lawyer of the day (for last Wednesday, and while you were sleeping). [Canton Repository]
* Thoughts on how Democrats might approach a conservative Court (from Emily Bazelon). [Slate]

One of the biggest legal and political stories today is the congressional testimony of Sara Taylor, former White House political director. Taylor declined to answer a number of questions, based on executive privilege.
We’ll leave substantive discussion of the Taylor testimony to others, and focus instead on matters of style. From a tipster:

“Check out this photo essay. I don’t mean to sound catty, but shouldn’t she have used Monica Goodling’s stylist?”

Sara Taylor Testimony Senate Judiciary Committee Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.JPG
We agree wholeheartedly. Screw executive privilege — what about stylist’s privilege?
We comment on some of the Sara Taylor photos, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Sara Taylor Testimony: A Photo Essay”

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