Sonia Sotomayor

The Supreme Court just handed down a unanimous opinion ruling in one of the most closely watched cases of the year. All the justices agreed on the result, but diverged significantly in reasoning.

This morning, the court issued its decision in United States v. Jones. Police in Washington, D.C. placed a GPS tracking device on the car of Antoine Jones, a nightclub owner, without obtaining a warrant. The GPS device helped law enforcement link Jones to a house used to store drugs and money. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to life in prison. An appeals court later overturned his conviction.

The central issue in Jones was whether attaching a GPS device to a car (i.e., allowing law enforcement 24/7 access to a person’s movements), without obtaining a warrant first, violated the Fourth Amendment.

The case has been heralded as one of the most important privacy cases in recent memory. Wired’s Threat Level blog said Jones “is arguably the biggest Fourth Amendment case in the computer age.” Editor emerita Kashmir Hill attended oral arguments for the case back in November.

What did the justices say? The ruling might surprise you…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: SCOTUS Rules in Highly Anticipated GPS Tracking Case”

Outgoing NYLS Dean Rick Matasar

Even at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), the criticism of the legal education business just flowed. Everybody, it seems, has an opinion on what is wrong with law schools these days.

While many of the law school deans and other administrators at the conference acknowledged problems with the system, most of the actual critiquing came from people with no power to change it. Media members (ahem) criticized law schools, judges criticized law schools, outgoing deans of law schools that shamelessly profiteered off of unwitting law students criticized — and the people who could actually change their systems dutifully listened.

But despite all of the critiques, there weren’t a lot of schools that seemed ready to institute sweeping change to the business of educating lawyers. And why should they? Change won’t come from above, and right now prospective law students are not demanding change from below…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Outsiders Criticize Law Schools, But Will Change Ever Come?”

Justice Elena Kagan

The latest issue of New York magazine contains a very interesting profile of the U.S. Supreme Court’s newest member, Justice Elena Kagan, penned by Dahlia Lithwick. Here’s the bottom-line summary of the piece (via Ezra Klein):

“While Kagan is assuredly a liberal, and likely also a fan of the health-reform law, a close read of her tenure at the Supreme Court suggests that she is in fact the opposite of a progressive zealot. By the end of Kagan’s first term, conservatives like former Bush solicitor general Paul Clement (who will likely argue against the health-care law this coming spring) and Chief Justice John Roberts were giving Kagan high marks as a new justice precisely because she wasn’t a frothing ideologue. The pre-confirmation caricatures of her as a self-serving careerist and party hack are not borne out by her conduct at oral argument, her writing, and her interactions with her colleagues. In fact, if her first term and a half is any indication, she may well madden as many staunch liberals as conservatives in the coming years.”

That’s just the overview. Let’s delve into the details a bit more….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Portrait of Elena Kagan as a Young Justice”


Robert Bork

Some lawyers can be so circumspect in speech and so careful in action that they’re just plain boring. Such caution might help you make it to the Supreme Court someday, but it’s not a recipe for a very fun life.

Thankfully, not all brilliant lawyers are afraid of speaking their minds. Take Robert Bork, the former U.S. Solicitor General and D.C. Circuit judge whose Supreme Court nomination famously went down in flames in 1987 — due in part to his loquaciousness during his confirmation hearings.

Judge Bork, now 84, is currently a fellow at the Hudson Institute think tank. He’s not as involved in public life as he once was, but he’s not completely out of the picture. For example, he’s serving as a legal adviser to Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney (a development that some on the left have criticized).

And Judge Bork continues to make controversial pronouncements, most recently in an interview with Newsweek….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Borking Up a Storm: Romney’s High-Profile Legal Adviser Speaks His Mind”

* Looks like you really screwed the Cooch. Virginia and its Obamacare challenge got slapped around today by the Fourth Circuit. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Just how rich are the members of SCOTUS? When you’re worth $45M, like RBG, you can afford to fall asleep during the State of the Union address. But you can’t afford such luxuries when you’re still Sonia from the block. [Forbes]

* An interesting read on the Kenneth Moreno case from the perspective of a juror. Buy it on your Kindle and check it on the way home today. [Gothamist]

* What is law school’s dirty little secret? If you have social skills, you don’t need to be in the top ten percent to get a job. Fair warning, because your mileage may vary with this bit of advice. [Law Riot]

* If Texas A&M is actually allowed to join the SEC, fans are going to have to learn how to start talking smack about the Big 12 and buy a pair of jorts stat. [ESPN]

* What a Masshole: sorry, lady, but if seeing your criminal history in print is too upsetting, maybe a career change is in order? No judge is just going to stop the presses for you. [Salem News]

* “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here! Thou art cash cows being led to the $laughter!” Well, if you’re going to riff on my school, at least get your facts straight. We cry in our cars. [LOLawyer]

* No, you cannot change your name to NJWeedman.com. We get it, you smoke two joints before you smoke two joints. But if you lose the domain, your stoner friends would be confused. [Gawker]

It should not be surprising that the two dissents have sharply different views on how to read the statute. That is the sort of thing that can happen when statutory analysis is so untethered from the text.

– Chief Justice John Roberts, benchslapping the dissents by Justices Breyer and Sotomayor in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting.

(The Court upheld, against a preemption challenge, an Arizona law that provides for suspending or revoking the licenses of businesses that violate state immigration law. Gavel bang: Josh Blackman.)

Talk about the branches getting together! I’ll have to show up.

– Rep. José Serrano (D-NY), reacting to the prospect of Justice Sonia Sotomayor joining the congressional women’s softball team.

Sotomayor rocks.

Kristine Sims (via ABA Journal).

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.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor

* Professor Carlton Larson has a great new paper exploring possible constitutional limitations on state laws regulating baby names. Could parental rights to name a child “Dumb Motherf**ker,” “Preserved Fish,” or “Latrina” be protected by the First Amendment? [SSRN via Legal Blog Watch]

* Speaking of the Wise Latrina, Justice Sonia Sotomayor is a fan of bipartisan seating at the State of the Union. Her colleagues’ email skills? Not so much. [How Appealing]

* Illinois law professor Larry Ribstein on the Rahm Emanuel ruling: “Illinois law is better interpreted to say that before a Washington pol runs again in the midwest he needs some time reacquaint himself with the real world.” [Truth on the Market]

* Congratulations to DLA Piper, which will become the world’s largest law firm after a merger Down Under. [Bloomberg]

* And congratulations to former DLA partner Ted Segal — he’s moving over to regional firm Stradley Ronon, in part because of client concerns over billing rates. [Washington Business Journal]

* Wow, that was fast. Rep. Dennis Kucinich has already settled his lawsuit over olive-triggered dental damage. [Dave Weigel / Slate]

Sean Combs aka Diddy

* This complaint makes Jonathan Lee Riches v. Jared Lee Loughner sound like the height of sanity. A woman is suing P. Diddy, blaming him for the collapse of the World Trade Center. [Radar Online]

* A state transit agency in Virginia that has paid Williams Mullen more than $6.5 million over the past five years might be shifting legal work away from the firm. [Virginian-Pilot]

* You can call Above the Law “the most worst legal website published in the State of New York,” and we won’t sue you for defamation. (Cue jokes about truth as a defense in 3, 2, 1….) [New York Law Journal via ABA Journal]

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