Supreme Court

Above the Law editors are just like you. We wake up in the morning and log into SCOTUSblog and start a group Gchat about important Supreme Court cases just like everybody else.

We figure that the world doesn’t need another “analysis” of today’s Noel Canning decision in the recess appointments case. There will be approximately five million of those coming to an internet near you.

Instead, take a look at our real-time reactions as the decision went live. If you think we sound kind of dumb on the site, wait until you see how we actually think in real time….

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It would be hard to overstate the importance of Riley v. California. Now data on cell phones (and, hopefully soon, other electronic media) requires a search warrant for law enforcement to get access to it during an arrest (generally — check your individual situation; exceptions may apply).

It’s so hard to overstate the importance of Riley that I don’t think a single media outlet has done it yet (which is really saying something in light of the current state of Supreme Court coverage).

As you may dimly remember from the criminal procedure class you took in law school, the “search incident to arrest” doctrine is a little screwy and subject to abuse. The general rule is that police can search things on your person or in the area of your arrest to make sure you don’t destroy evidence or hurt them, but nothing else. Later cases have held that the area you can reach while you’re being arrested (where you could destroy evidence or find something to hurt the police) includes the entire interior area of your car, regardless of how far you can reach or how wedged under the seat cushions that currency counterfeiting machine is.

This body of law is a lovely example of how pro-law enforcement results drive any reasonable understanding of how a test should be applied. Reading these cases in law school is a formatively disheartening experience (“really, that’s the kind of junk judges come up with? Why have laws at all?” etc.).

Riley, though, draws a line around your phone. Sure — the police can look into your pocket to see if that square box is a cell phone or a detonating device, and they can look in the back of your van to see if you could have reached a butterfly knife if you had a 20-foot arm span — but they can’t look inside the phone without first getting a warrant.

Of course, the Court could have decided this in a few ways. It could have written a very narrow doctrinal opinion. Or it could have issued a deeply divided set of opinions where there isn’t a clear statement about the development of the law as much as a resolution of one case. But, instead, the Court issued a 9-0 decision, authored by the Chief Justice, which was a celebration of the importance of electronic privacy and recognizes that we’re in a new world — and need new rules to handle it….

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Warrant or GTFO.

Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant.

– Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the Court in Riley v. California, holding that the police generally need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest.

(Additional highlights from Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion, after the jump.)

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‘Would you like fries with that, Your Honor?’

* With OT 2013 drawing to a close, here’s a nifty chart that shows which Supreme Court justices vote together most and least often. The division is real, people. [The Upshot / New York Times]

* “Not only do they have unique interpretations of the Constitution but they can’t even agree on how to pronounce words.” Listen to our SCOTUS justices flub the word “certiorari.” [Legal Times]

* Quinn Emanuel and Samsung must now pay more than $2M in sanctions to Nokia and Apple after leaking confidential, “attorneys’ eyes only” information in a discovery blunder. Oopsie! [Legal Week]

* “Why can’t you get a real job?” This judge — the same one who sentenced a rapist to just 30 days in prison — told a fast-food worker to get a better job to pay off his restitution more quickly. [Billings Gazette]

* If you think you’ve seen the best of the “Law and ______” classes, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Say hello to some newcomers, like Video Game Law and Law of Robots. Justice Scalia is pissed. [WSJ Law Blog]

* The importance of firm toilets. [Legal Cheek]

* JFK University is holding “Saturday Law School” at a shopping mall. They’ll be down by the “Macy’s and California Pizza Kitchen.” [Pleasanton Weekly]

* Professor David Bernstein from GMU Law explains how sex works. Basically, unless you’re dealing with prostitutes, the proper way to deal with women is to just stick it in and see what happens. [Gawker]

* “Noticing that different people look differently = innate human observation a little girl can do. Ascribing vastly different levels of trustworthiness based on skin color = police work.” [ATL Redline]

* Michelle MacDonald, the GOP nominee for Minnesota Supreme Court, has a pending DWI and an old contempt arrest, which she blows off with the line, “You can play foosball in the court when a judge isn’t there.” Picking real winners there, Minnesota. [Politics in Minnesota]

* Cocaine gave this lawyer 9 lives. [Missouri Lawyers Weekly (sub. req.]

* Mike Rowe decides not to take a lawyer’s advice. [IJ Review]

* The Supreme Court was pretty good to the environment yesterday. Something must have been wrong. [Grist]

Everyone smile and say “certiorari”!

The opinions released by the Supreme Court this morning were not super-exciting. The good news, pointed out by Professor Rick Hasen on Twitter, is that “[t]here are no likely boring #SCOTUS opinions left.” (But see Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer, noted by Ken Jost.)

So let’s talk about something more interesting than today’s SCOTUS opinions: namely, the justices’ recently released financial disclosures. Which justices are taking home the most in outside income? How robust are their investments?

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* 8 reasons that lawyers are like condoms. Not included: on the inside, they’re just dicks. [Legal Cheek]

* A bunch of reporters that no one reads anymore take out their frustrations on SCOTUSblog for having the audacity to be good at its job. [ABA Journal]

* Presented without commentary — a dean is not pleased with us. [PrawfsBlawg]

* Jobs for law grads may be scarce, but WSJ wants you to know that Biglaw specifically is hiring again. So for a few of you, you’re set until you try to lateral. [Gawker]

* Deluding yourself is a valuable career strategy. [Law and More]

* Guy is suing an airline because he went to Grenada when he wanted to go to Granada. This gave me a great excuse to rematch the classic Newhart episode, Oh, THAT Morrocco. [Daily Mail]

* A woman who tried to save some ducklings now faces life in prison. The moral of the story, as always, is screw animals. [USA Today]

* The real winner in the protracted courtship of Patton Boggs was Akin Gump. [Washingtonian]

* Teaching the law has suffered because of the influx of stupid “Law and…” courses. [TaxProf Blog]

* But Oklahoma knows how to fix the problems with law school — give you an iPad! Video below… [YouTube]

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Hope Solo

* SCOTUS justices’ financial disclosures revealed that none of them received gifts worth reporting in 2013. Either their friends have gotten cheaper, or they have fewer friends. Aww. [Legal Times]

* Here’s a headline we’ve been seeing for years, but people are still ignoring it in small droves: “Jobs Are Still Scarce for New Law School Grads.” The struggle is real. [Businessweek]

* Law schools, in an effort to avoid their own extinction, are all adapting to their new enrollment issues in different ways. We’ll see which was effective in a few years. [U.S. News University Connection]

* Quite the “divorce” train wreck we’ve got here, if only they were legally wed: This lawyer allegedly duped his “wife” into a fake marriage, and is trying to evict her from his $1 million lawyerly lair. [New York Post]

* You may have heard that Hope Solo allegedly assaulted her sister and nephew, but her lawyer says that’s simply not true. It was the drunk soccer star who needed shin guards that night. [Associated Press]

Justice Scalia: get off his lawn!

What is going on with the distinguished members of the Supreme Court of the United States? One of the justices recently got caught shopping at Costco.[1] Another just confessed to riding the bus — no, not the Metro, the bus.

Earlier this week, Justice Scalia dissented from the Court’s denial of certiorari in a very interesting Establishment Clause case, Elmbrook School District v. Doe. His dissent garnered media attention for the way he curmudgeonly railed against rock music (and got in a dig at Stravinsky).

But what jumped out at me was a different line in the opinion….

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Sarah Jones

* Judges with daughters are seven percent more likely to support women’s rights than judges with only sons. Alas, Justices Scalia and Alito are impervious to human emotion. [New York Times]

* If you thought Supreme Court justices were “profoundly divided” over issues of law, wait until you see how they differ over the pronunciation of the word “certiorari.” [National Law Journal]

* This year’s summer associate programs sound pretty lame compared to the past: “The emphasis is certainly more on the work than it is on the social events.” All work and no play makes Jack an employed boy at graduation. [Boston Business Journal]

* “I saved the internet today. Your freedom continues.” Fair assessment. Sarah Jones’s win in her defamation case against Nik Richie and TheDirty.com was overturned by the Sixth Circuit. [Courier-Journal]

* If you’re choosing to go against the president’s wishes and apply to law school, here’s how you can leverage your major on all of your applications. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* This cowgirl is putting aside her rodeo accomplishments to go to law school. At least she’ll have the experience needed to ride the bucking bronco of the post-recession job market. [Casper Star-Tribune]

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