Supreme Court

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* Thailand’s constitutional court decided to disband the country’s ruling party and ban the prime minister from politics for five years. [CNN.com]

* A former federal courts chief is calling for the resignation or impeachment of an appellate judge in California for watching internet porn. In one month, there were 90,000 hits on 1,100 porn sites at the California Judiciary. [Miami Herald]

* Al Franken, the Senate candidate from Minnesota, may appeal to the courts because he argues that 1,000 absentee ballots were wrongly discarded in the recount. [CBS]

* The US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the city of Garden Grove in California that argued that city police should not have to return seized medical marijuana to a chronic pain patient. California’s 4th District Court of Appeal sided with the patient, and now the case is closed, a victory for advocates of medical marijuana use. [The Los Angeles Times]

* At least something is going well for Detroit these days. “U.S. car maker Ford Motor Company Tuesday won its case at a European court over the registration of the word “Fun” as a European trademark.” [CNN]

* Chevron was found not-guilty by a federal court jury in San Francisco; the jury dismissed claims of Nigerian villagers who say they were attacked by company paid soldiers on an an off-shore drilling platform. [Bloomberg]

* Don’t forget, meet the editors is tonight at 6:30 at Professor Thoms’ [Above The Law]

Supreme Court hallway Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law.JPGOur last round-up of Supreme Court clerk hiring was published back in August, before the start of October Term 2008. Now that the justices are back in the country and back on the bench, they’re back to interviewing clerkship applicants.

Over at the Clerkship Notification Blog, there was buzz about Justice Stephen Breyer interviewing and hiring clerks for October Term 2009. That intelligence was correct. Here are his hires:

1. Christopher Fonzone (Harvard 2007 / Wilkinson)

2. Jennifer Nou (Yale 2008 / Posner)

Fonzone appears to be the “2007 Harvard grad” referenced in the comments. With Chris Fonzone and Jen Nou on board, Justice Breyer is all done for OT 2009. (We also hear that he’s started to hire for October Term 2010, but we have no details.)

Update (3:40 PM): We now know one of SGB’s hires for OT 2010:

Erika Myers (Stanford 2008 / Kozinski)

Interesting — although Chief Judge Kozinski is a big-time feeder, he tends to feed more to the right side of the Court. So he may be expanding his range as a feeder judge.

The updated list of Supreme Court clerks, with Fonzone and Nou and Myers added, appears after the jump.

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sandra day o'connor 2 justice o'connor.jpgIt has been a while since our last Eyes of the Law legal celebrity sighting, so here’s a fun one for your consideration. A D.C. tipster tells us:

We saw Sandra Day O’Connor in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s exhibit on Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams. She had on the same red sweater she can be seen wearing in photos dating from the late ’90′s hanging on the wall at Georgetown. I guess the retired justice pension package isn’t as generous as I thought. Or she just really likes that sweater.

SOC was accompanied by two women in their late 20′s or early 30′s… possibly granddaughters, possibly ex-clerks. We didn’t detect any particular resemblance — neither was wearing a red sweater that looked as though it might have been knitted or handed down from grandma.

Old people and museums: perfect together. Please pass the Bengay.

Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities [Smithsonian American Art Museum]

Fellowships.jpgWe’ve been writing about career alternatives for lawyers. With all the layoff news coming out of law firms these days, it’s good to remember that there are things you can do with a law degree other than working for a large law firm. Today, we’re touching on fellowship options for attorneys.

Of course, there are judicial clerkships, the ultimate “de-facto” fellowships for attorneys, and legal academia fellowships (aspiring law professors should check out TaxProf Blog’s compilation). But we are focusing on opportunities for mid-career attorneys, who may want to get away from Biglaw for a year or two, but ultimately want to keep on practicing.

We’re listing a few and encourage you to mention others in the comments. If you’re looking for interesting experiences, and don’t mind a dip in your salary, here are a few fellowships to consider:

  • The White House Fellowship
  • The Supreme Court Fellows
  • Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Fellowships
  • The Skadden Fellowship (not mid-career, but worth mention)
  • More on each of these fellowships, and advice for those thinking about fellowships, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “For lawyers are jolly good fellows…
    A few fellowship possibilities to consider

    Justice Antonin Scalia headshot.jpgLaw students and lawyers get starstruck when they meet U.S. Supreme Court justices. And Supreme Court justices get starstruck when they meet… opera singers! From the New York Times:

    Justice Antonin Scalia has a reputation as an intimidating jurist who poses withering questions during arguments before the Supreme Court. But on Friday afternoon, when the soprano Leontyne Price entered the West Conference Room at the Court to attend an honorary luncheon hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts, Justice Scalia, an avid opera fan, visibly melted.

    Was Nino as excited as when he met Sarah Jessica Parker? (Oh wait — AS wasn’t that excited to meet SJP.)

    “It’s a great honor to meet you,” [Justice Scalia] told Ms. Price, his face crinkling with warmth and delight. When Ms. Price complimented him on the elegance of the luncheon’s setting — a paneled salon, its walls lined with portraits of past chief justices — he replied, “Yes, these are pretty nice rooms,” adding, “And they’re yours today.”

    And might you perhaps like a clerkship, Leontyne? Reviewing cert petitions is much easier than singing the title role in Aida. Just deny, deny, deny.

    Speaking of SCOTUS clerkships, does anyone have news to report on that front? If so, please email us (subject line: “Supreme Court clerk hiring”).

    More about Leontyne Price’s visit to One First Street, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Different Kind of Judicial Diva”

    Dahlia Lithwick Slate Senior Editor.jpgWe spent a fair amount of time last week in lovely Charlottesville, Virginia, where we spoke at the University of Virginia Law School (coverage of our talk appears here and here). We spent lots of quality time with UVA Law students — at dinner, at a karaoke bar, and walking around the beautiful grounds.

    One of the highlights of our trip was attending a luncheon talk by the fabulous Dahlia Lithwick, who has covered the Supreme Court for Slate for the past ten years (and who also served as a celebrity judge on ATL Idol). Despite suffering from a nasty flu, she delivered remarks that were hilarious and insightful, shedding much light upon media coverage of the Court.

    Read more, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Covering the Court: Thoughts from Dahlia Lithwick”

    Palin Vogue.JPGSarah Palin’s interview with Katie Couric last week made me … happy. But the McCain-Palin campaign appears nonplussed with the post-interview spin.

    Maybe the campaign feels pressured by the latest “global electoral college poll.”

    Regardless, the campaign is set to “re-introduce” Sarah Palin. Palin, and McCain this time, sat down with Katie Couric again. (I guess Mel B was unavailable.) The new interview that will air sometime after the debate.

    The McCain-Palin ticket is apparently pumped about how the new interview went. They want CBS to air the full interview, unedited. But the campaign is mad that CBS leaked a snippet of last week’s Couric interview that did not air:

    Of concern to McCain’s campaign, however, is a remaining and still-undisclosed clip from Palin’s interview with Couric last week that has the political world buzzing.

    The Palin aide, after first noting how “infuriating” it was for CBS to purportedly leak word about the gaffe, revealed that it came in response to a question about Supreme Court decisions.

    After noting Roe vs. Wade, Palin was apparently unable to discuss any major court cases.

    There was no verbal fumbling with this particular question as there was with some others, the aide said, but rather silence.

    I’ll pause for criticisms about the liberal media, northeastern elites, and my mother.

    More after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Many SCOTUS Cases Should a VP Know?”

    court_front_med.jpgWhile everyone spent the weekend talking about who bested whom in the McCain-Obama match-up, the New York Times magazine turned away from all that to focus on the really important policy makers in Washington: the Supreme Court. SCOTUS played cover model for Sunday’s NYT magazine, with HLS prof Noah Feldman’s lengthy piece, When Judges Make Foreign Policy.

    We love the Star Wars-esque article preview: “When the next justice is appointed, our place in the world may well hang in the balance.” In case you didn’t get the magazine this weekend, and don’t feel like clicking through ten pages online to read it, we’ve got a rundown for you.

    Feldman writes that the justices have become “the oracles of our national identity.” We like this analogy. The Greek oracles wore white. The Justices wear black. Advice seekers went to temples to consult Greek oracles. People go to the white gleaming temple at One First Street to address the Justices. The Greeks had hallucinogenic fumes rising from the earth, enhancing their prophetic powers. The Justices have caffeine and the sweet, sweet smell of the pages of the Constitution. But we digress.

    Feldman says the defining issue of our time is globalization, and that SCOTUS wields incredible power as it establishes the place of the U.S. in the world through its rulings on international law. Listen up, law school folk, perhaps that international law class is not such a waste of time after all. Conservatives and liberals feel differently, of course, about how the Constitution applies internationally:

    In recent years, two prominent schools of thought have emerged… One view, closely associated with the Bush administration, begins with the observation that law, in the age of modern liberal democracy, derives its legitimacy from being enacted by elected representatives of the people. From this standpoint, the Constitution is seen as facing inward, toward the Americans who made it, toward their rights and their security. For the most part, that is, the rights the Constitution provides are for citizens and provided only within the borders of the country…

    A competing view, championed mostly by liberals, defines the rule of law differently: law is conceived not as a quintessentially national phenomenon but rather as a global ideal. The liberal position readily concedes that the Constitution specifies the law for the United States but stresses that a fuller, more complete conception of law demands that American law be pictured alongside international law and other (legitimate) national constitutions.

    Feldman argues that new appointees for SCOTUS spots that are sure to open should be evaluated based on their thinking about the Court’s role in shaping American foreign policy. The SCOTUS newbies will determine whether the Constitution will be a shield, or will be a blanket shared around the global campfire while everyone sings Kumbaya.

    More on this after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “SCOTUS… ‘The World May Well Hang in the Balance’”

    Kannon Shanmugam Kannon K Shanmugam AboveTheLaw Above the Law.jpgAs the old saying goes, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a lawyer to be hired as a lateral partner at Williams & Connolly.” The last lateral partner to be hired by the super-elite litigation shop, which people and corporations turn to when they’re in the deepest of doo-doo, was Gerald Feffer, brought into the fold over two decades ago.

    So this latest move is fairly big news. Appellate superstar Kannon Shanmugam, one of Washington’s top 40 lawyers under 40 (see #21), is leaving the Solicitor General’s office, where he has served for the past four years as an Assistant to the Solicitor General. He’ll be joining Williams & Connolly — as a partner.

    “It’s very hard to leave the Justice Department, but I’m excited about the challenge of helping to build the appellate practice at Williams & Connolly,” Shanmugam told us. “It’s arguably the best firm for litigation in the country, but what ultimately attracted me to the firm is its distinctive culture.”

    “We are thrilled to have Kannon join us,” said Robert Barnett, a member of the firm’s Executive Committee (and author rep to the stars — he’s negotiated book deals for the Clintons, Barack Obama, Bob Woodward, Lynne Cheney, and Alan Greenspan, among others). “He’s our first lateral partner in 22 years, which is indicative of how rarely we have lateral partners join us.”

    “Almost everyone at the firm is homegrown, coming up through the associate ranks and making partner,” explained Barnett to ATL. “Kannon, because of his exceptional qualities, is going to be a rare exception to that pattern. On a personal level, he’s a terrific individual. But we are also extremely respectful and welcoming of his legal skills.”

    Word on the street is that Shanmugam received offers from about half a dozen other firms. “He was sought by many firms, and being as competitive as we are, we’re pleased to have won the Kannon sweepstakes,” said Bob Barnett.

    Additional discussion, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Kannon Shanmugam to Williams & Connolly
    W&C’s first lateral partner in 22 years

    Kevin Newsom Benjamin Mizer Ben Mizer state SGs.jpgFormer Supreme Court clerks, also known as the Elect, have no shortage of job opportunities. And a new development in state government is giving them even more. From the National Law Journal:

    A trend among states in recent years to appoint a solicitor general has increased opportunities for young attorneys to get into court and ultimately return to private practice far from Washington, the traditional heart of the nation’s appellate bar.

    In the past decade, a dozen states, including California, Florida and North Carolina, have added state solicitor generals [sic], many of whom oversee large staffs, said Dan Schweitzer, Supreme Court counsel for the National Association of Attorneys General. Nationwide, 37 states have a solicitor general, he said.

    “There are a lot more appellate positions that attract top-notch lawyers,” Schweitzer said.

    There are shout-outs to several hot young lawyers whose names should be familiar to ATL readers.
    Find out who, after the jump.

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