Supreme Court

* Statistically speaking, with its current line up, the Supreme Court is the most conservative that it’s been since the 1930s. This chart makes even Justice Kennedy look conservative. [FiveThirtyEight / New York Times]

* And another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust: earlier this week, Dewey lost an antitrust partner to Arent Fox. That brings the firm’s grand total of partner defections to 38. [Am Law Daily]

* Jerry Sandusky’s trial has been postponed until June to due to “logistical contingencies” — like a motion to dismiss all of his child sex abuse charges. Meh, it’s no big deal. Same verdict, different day. [Bloomberg]

* And on a similar note, Warren Jeffs tried — and failed — to appeal his child sex abuse conviction. Because apparently that’s what happens when you represent yourself in the hopes of overturning a life sentence. [CNN]

* Lindsay Lohan’s supervised probation has ended, and for the time being, her legal woes are over. When will she screw up again? I’m going to give her three months, and that’s being really generous. [Daily Telegraph]

After a rough week, a near consensus has emerged that Obamacare has a murky future. Liberal pundits are reeling: Dahlia Lithwick is palpably depressed, and Jeffrey Toobin — so recently heard predicting that the ACA would be upheld by an 8-1 majority — is now characterizing the proceedings as a “train wreck for the Obama Administration, and it may also be a plane wreck.” On the other hand, Philip Klein of the avowedly right-wing Washington Examiner encapsulated the opposition’s mood of gleeful triumphalism when he tweeted, “Clement channeled Michael Jordan, Verrilli channeled Scott Norwood.” (But see: Elie’s lonely defense of the Solicitor General.)

Before the arguments commenced, we asked our readers for their opinions and predictions on the case: Will SCOTUS uphold the ACA? Should it? 1,100 of you weighed in.

After the jump, we’ll look at the results of our survey, and sample some representative reader comments. (Here is an example of a non-representative reader comment: “I hope the law is overturned. I am a Christian Scientist and have not been to the doctor in 40 years.”)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Readers: Obamacare Is Either ‘Clearly Constitutional’ Or ‘The Birth of Tyranny’”

Justice Antonin Scalia

My approach would be to say that if you take the heart out of this statute, the statute’s gone.

– Justice Antonin Scalia, commenting on what might happen to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act if the individual mandate were struck down as unconstitutional by the Court.

(How open is Justice Scalia to reviewing the particular provisions of Obamacare to decide which provisions should stand and which should fall? Let’s find out….)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: Shot Through the Heart / And Congress Is to Blame / You Give Obamacare a Bad Name”


Isn’t it funny that if you refuse to buy food, the government won’t force you to buy any — broccoli or otherwise? But when you show up at the hospital dying of starvation, the government will give you health care even if you haven’t paid for it.

Sorry, I know it’s foolish for me to inject 21st century policy concerns into Scalia’s 18th century hypothetical.

Obamacare supporters are still licking their wounds from getting smacked around by SCOTUS yesterday. I don’t know why anybody is surprised. You’ve got four staunchly conservative justices and one pretty conservative justice that gets called a “swing vote” because the Court has lurched so far to the right since he was appointed, and you’re going in front of them with a massive use of the interstate commerce power. You think they care that past precedents that they don’t agree with say they should uphold the law? You think they want to give Obama a victory any more than Republicans in Congress wanted to support the Republican approach to health care once Obama adopted it? This was always going to be an uphill battle with this Court.

That’s not Don Verrilli’s fault. People need to stop yelling at this man. No, he wasn’t as witty as Paul Clement. Do we really think that whether or not Anthony Kennedy wants us to have health care will turn on Verrilli’s ability to spit out a one-liner? If liberals want to blame somebody, it’s not Don Verrilli; blame the spineless way Congress and the President abandoned single-payer. That’s why we’re here folks. We sent Verrilli into a conservative lion’s den with a liberal piece of meat hanging around his neck, and now we’re criticizing the way he ran around, screaming for his life. That’s not right.

But anyway, that was yesterday and “reading the tea leaves” from oral arguments takes way more time than looking at the political agendas of each of the justices. Let’s move on to today’s arguments. The Court will consider whether the Affordable Care Act can survive if the Court strikes down the individual mandate part, and whether the expansion of Medicaid coverage amounts to government coercion….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Obamacare Goes to Court, Day Three: Republicans Come for Medicaid”

Today was the big day: the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act was argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s always fun when nine unelected people get to decide whether Congress and the president get to do what the American people elected them to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been listening to CSPAN 3 take calls from “real” Americans about the constitutionality of health care, and let me tell you: Americans are incredibly stupid. On both sides. Christ on Phonics, I don’t even know if some of these people are able to read. Nine unelected arbiters looking at this is at least as legitimate as millions of freaking idiots having a clap-off to figure out how to administer health coverage for millions of people.

Did I say nine people will decide this issue? That’s not entirely accurate, is it? Aren’t we really talking about one guy?

They’re replaying the audio from today’s arguments on CSPAN 3. Too bad there’s no video… I want to see the gifts of frankincense and myrrh that Solicitor General Don Verrilli and Paul Clement brought for Justice Anthony Kennedy.

But what’s really interesting today is to see whether all these ideologically conservative judges will actually take a conservative judicial approach and show deference to the legislature.

Not that I’m holding my breath….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Obamacare Goes to Court, Day Two: The Search for Anthony Kennedy’s Soul”

'Hahaha, and then I said that I didn't know they were prostitutes.'

* Was the Obamacare case brought prematurely? Did the Supreme Court’s judicial intervention come too soon? Yesterday’s arguments before SCOTUS can be summed up in four simple words: “That’s what she said.” [New York Times]

* Howrey going to get out of this one? The defunct firm’s bankruptcy trustee, Allan Diamond, is trying to decide whether he’ll be bringing adversary claims against the dissolution committee and its members. [Am Law Daily]

* U.S. News is doing what the American Bar Association refuses to do: make law schools its b*tch. Listen up, administrators, because your next “reporting error” could cost you your ranking. [National Law Journal]

* Armed with a treasure trove of new evidence, Facebook has moved to dismiss Paul Ceglia’s lawsuit. What does his lawyer from Milberg have to say? A hacker planted all of the evidence, duh. [Wall Street Journal]

* Apparently Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s got hos in different area codes. He’s been keeping his pimp hand strong — so strong, that he’s been charged with aggravated procurement of prostitutes. [Bloomberg]

* Broke your nose trying to walk through a glass wall at the Apple store and now you’re suing for $1M? That’s an app for that! It’s called common sense, and for a limited time only, it’s being offered free of charge. [Forbes]

Court watchers, it’s on. Today the Supreme Court started hearing arguments on its most politically-charged case since Bush v. Gore. It’s the first time in a generation where the Court might strike down a major piece of national legislation. The Court will hear three days of oral argument on the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare).

This is big time. The entire country is watching.

And on day one, for the opening salvo in the biggest Court battle of the decade, we’re going to start with jurisdiction.

[CLEAR]

Still with me? I know it’s boring, but there’s an interesting political story here as we wait for the Court to get to the “main event” tomorrow….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Obamacare Goes to Court, Day One: Juris-My-Diction Crap”

* It’s Obamacare week at the Supreme Court, and people have been waiting in line since Friday morning to see the oral arguments. It’s kind of like Black Friday, except more people care about affordable TVs than affordable health care. [New York Times]

* Growth in the NLJ 250 increased by 1.7 percent in 2011. That’s fantastic for Biglaw, but associates at these firms care more about the growth of their bank accounts. Seriously… where are the spring bonuses already? [National Law Journal]

* George Zimmerman’s lawyer says he doesn’t think the “stand your ground” law applies to Trayvon Martin’s shooting. This was just self-defense — against Skittles. [MSNBC]

* The finalists for deanship at Baltimore Law include a Patton Boggs partner, an assistant attorney general, a law school dean, and two law professors. But which will be able to stand up to Bogomolny? [Baltimore Sun]

* Since blogging allows “big personalities” to run free, does the prosecommenter, Sal Perricone, have a bright future ahead of him here at Above the Law? Let’s see what David Lat has to say about that. [Times-Picayune]

* Millionaire John Goodman has been convicted of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide charges, and now he’s facing 11.5 to 30 years in prison. Boy is his girlfriend-slash-daughter going to miss him. [CNN]

Hotter than a real poison pill.

* I know you don’t want to be evil, but I don’t think “privacy” means what you think it means. Google users have filed a class action suit against the company in New York over its new complete and utter lack of privacy policy. [Bloomberg]

* So you made some anti-war comments, touched Dick Cheney, got arrested, claimed your First Amendment rights were violated, and your case made it all the way to SCOTUS. Greatest accomplishment? Not getting shot by Cheney. [Huffington Post]

* Whoa, whoa, whoa. You mean to tell me that Wachtell’s name partner, Martin Lipton, the man who created the “poison pill,” supports staggered boards? Consider my mind blown. [DealBook / New York Times]

* M&A maven Dennis Block and real estate rock star Jeffrey Feil each donated $1M to their alma mater, Brooklyn Law School. See, you don’t need to go to a T14 school to make bank. [National Law Journal]

* Protip: not even Dov Charney’s world-renowned creepiness can save you from an arbitration agreement. A former employee’s $260M sex slave suit has been tossed out of court. [New York Daily News]

Today’s opinion opens a whole new field of constitutionalized criminal procedure: the field of plea-bargaining law. The court announces this new field in opinions that almost seem designed to sow confusion.

– Justice Antonin Scalia discussing his dissents in Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 split decisions in both cases (published today) extended the constitutional right to effective legal assistance in cases of plea bargain deals that are rejected or lapsed due to bad lawyer advice.

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