5th Circuit

The latest output from the rage machine is that Justice Ginsburg has to recuse herself from hearing an expected appeal of the Texas abortion regulation that is essentially:

Look, we found a way to ban abortion without saying those words. We’re so f**king clever!

The law is in front of the Fifth Circuit now, but we all know this middle finger to Roe will make it to the Supreme Court eventually. Enter the right-wing punditry eager to drum up controversy in the hopes of removing a reliable liberal justice from the panel. At issue is a recent New Republic interview, where — in between discussing the relative merits of Jazzercise — Justice Ginsburg made the entirely indisputable observation that the law will shut down most abortion clinics in Texas. Oh no! She’s pre-judged the case!

Everyone cool their jets. Justice Ginsburg shouldn’t recuse herself for several reasons…

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There’s not really much to say here. There are just a few things to remember to avoid an embarrassing oral argument. Basically, don’t condescend to the judges on your appellate panel, and try to show up wearing pants (and maybe some socks). Pretty simple, right?

We’ve seen this kind of confrontational tone out of lawyers before, and it never ends well for the attorney. Like when Jones Day’s Matthew Kairis thought it wise to continuously interrupt Judge Posner in Notre Dame v. Sibelius. What happened next was… entirely predictable: Kairis ended up with an earful from Judge Posner about the proper role of an advocate before an appellate panel.

This poor fellow earns the same basic tongue-lashing, just with a different accent…

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* When it comes to bans on same-sex marriage, for Justice Anthony Kennedy, animus is a “doctrinal silver bullet” — the fact that there was no animus involved in the enactment of many of them may be problematic at the high court. [New York Times]

* Relying on some obscure Supreme Court precedent, the Fifth Circuit saved Mississippi’s lone abortion clinic after striking down as unconstitutional a state law that would have required doctors to have hospital admitting privileges. [National Law Journal]

* Given the situation over at Bingham McCutchen, people are starting to wonder about whether all the guaranteed contracts to members of merger partner McKee Nelson’s partnership helped to shape the firm’s current financial plight. [Am Law Daily]

* Hot on the heels of Cooley Law canceling its first-year class at Ann Arbor and announcing tentative plans to close the campus, the ABA approved the school’s affiliation with Western Michigan. Yay? [MLive.com]

* Here’s one way to become a lawyer without racking up massive amounts of debt: you could try to “read” the law like Abraham Lincoln, and work as a law firm apprentice. That sounds delightful. [New York Times]


On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit released the latest opinion in UT v. Fisher, the ongoing battle over the role of race-based preferences in the University of Texas at Austin’s undergraduate admissions policy. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Fifth Circuit had failed to apply the proper strict scrutiny standard to its earlier review of UT’s admissions scheme. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the court “must ultimately be satisfied that no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity.” He cautioned that, if a non-race-discriminatory approach could bring about UT’s stated goal of a “critical mass” of campus diversity, “then the university may not consider race.” The Court remanded the case back to the Fifth Circuit. This week, two of the three judges on the Fifth Circuit panel concluded that the use of race was, indeed, necessary.

Judge Emilio Garza’s dissent (beginning on page 44) criticizes the majority opinion for deferring impermissibly to UT’s claims, despite the Supreme Court’s instruction. He writes, “Although the University has articulated its diversity goal as a ‘critical mass,’ surprisingly, it has failed to define this term in any objective manner.” He later writes, “The majority entirely overlooks the University’s failure to define its ‘critical mass’ objective for the purposes of assessing narrow tailoring. This is the crux of this case — absent a meaningful explanation of its desired ends, the University cannot prove narrow tailoring under its strict scrutiny burden.”

How much diversity is a critical mass of diversity? Is this a unit of measure like a team of oxen or a murder of crows? How can a court possibly determine whether a given policy is necessary to achieve critical mass if we don’t know what that is? UT isn’t exactly the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, but a little bit more precision would be helpful.

The concept of critical mass is problematic for many reasons. Its vagueness provides a poor measure for reviewing courts. It packs in several dubious assumptions about the meaning of race. Here’s one more reason why “critical mass” is such a critical mess . . . .

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Juggalo Washington

* The Insane Clown Posse is appealing their loss in the “Juggalos aren’t gang members” case. F**king lawsuits, how do they work? [Lowering the Bar]

* After losing before the Supreme Court, the University of Texas affirmative action admissions program looked to be in serious trouble. But the Fifth Circuit just ruled that the UT policy met the strict-scrutiny analysis mandated by the Court. The lesson for Abigail Fisher is once more, “How about you get better grades instead of whining?” Or at least “Get politically connected.” [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Apple agrees to a conditional $450 million settlement with the NYAG’s office in the e-book suit. So you might get some money back from the 50 Shades of Grey purchase. [Reuters]

* The Manassas city police have decided not to engage in kiddie porn pursuant to a warrant. Good for them. [Washington Post]

* “Judges are not deities. They are humans.” Let’s not tell Lat, the shock might kill him. [Katz Justice]

* Maybe it’s time lawyers started looking out for each other. This is a theme we’ve touched on before. [Law and More]

* The hell? Parents arrested for letting their 9-year-old go to the park alone? Suffocating parenting is bad enough without the government expecting it of parents. [Slate]

* CPAs are suing the IRS because the regulation of tax preparers lacks Congressional approval. Because we need more folks off the street claiming to be tax preparers. [TaxProf Blog]

* Lawyer and former South Carolina GOP executive director Todd Kincannon is under investigation by the South Carolina Office of Disciplinary Counsel for basically being a dick on Twitter. As Ken White notes, the First Amendment is all about giving guys like this a forum. [Slate]

* Dan Marino was suing the NFL over concussions, becoming the highest profile former player to level a suit against the league. Among his allegations, he claims concussions led him to hold that ball laces in for Ray Finkle. Why do I say “was,” you ask? Because he claims he filed suit accidentally. No greater proof of the dangers of concussions necessary. [Awful Announcing]

* The Supreme Court used to gather in the basement and watch porn together according to Larry Tribe (affiliate link). Best anecdote is Justice Marshall narrating porn to the nearly blind Justice Harlan. You can spoil the ending for Justice Harlan here. [Washington Post]

* It turns out the Brits have their own obsession with law school rankings. Here’s their “league table” for a legal education. [The Guardian]

* You know not to wear a bikini to the firm pool party, but what should you wear to the other summer events? [Corporette]

* An article ponders when firms are going to figure out that recent law school grads are perfect paralegals. Thanks for that kick in the gut. [New Geography]

* Following up on an older story, the Fifth Circuit has withdrawn a ruling made in 2007 upon revelations that one of the judges involved had a financial interest in one of the parties. [Center for Public Integrity]

* Do we need more reasons why Bitcoin is stupid? Ah, it’s used in messy divorces to hide assets. Perfect. [Digital Journal]

* Debt collectors are increasingly giving up on calling you all the time and just seeking default judgments. [Huffington Post]

* From the SUNY Buffalo commencement, Judge Thomas Franczyk and graduate Joey Nicastro took the stage to perform a song for the occasion. Francis Malofiy is already planning to sue them. Video below….

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Give this man a federal judgeship.’ That sounded as if I were desperate, which I was . . . .

– Judge Leslie Southwick, in response to a Washington Post headline during his confirmation struggle.

In The Nominee: A Political and Spiritual Journey, Judge Leslie H. Southwick chronicles the long path to his current seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Southwick is a former Mississippi Court of Appeals judge, former deputy assistant attorney general in the first Bush Administration, and Iraq war veteran. He was recommended by Mississippi senators for a Fifth Circuit vacancy in 1991 and 2004, for a district judgeship in 2004 and 2006, before his final nomination in 2007. He initially appeared to be an uncontroversial nominee. However, a fierce partisan battle in the Senate threatened his eventual success. The Nominee follows Southwick’s tortuous path, relying on the judge’s day-by-day personal notes.

Southwick’s account is fascinating on its face. He drops names on every page, and it’s exciting to trace the earlier steps of those who would become legal luminaries in later years. For those only generally familiar with the way that federal judges get made — a process resembling in unsettling ways how sausage gets made, Southwick notes — the book provides an education in both the official and the unofficial processes. The book will certainly satisfy in excruciating detail the curiosity of anyone who wonders exactly how stubbornly political the judicial confirmation process has become.

Notably, the book shows just how long the process can be. Before he clears the Senate Judiciary Committee vote, before his nomination even reaches the Senate floor, Southwick writes that the day “was a double anniversary of my seeking a position on the Fifth Circuit. In my diary, I wrote, ‘Tuesday, 10 July. Sixteen years today since this started,’ meaning that I learned on July 10, 1991, that Judge Charles Clark was retiring. In addition, the 1991 date was exactly sixteen years after I wrote my July 10, 1975, letter applying to clerk for Judge Clark.” Judges, whether made the right way or not, are not made overnight.

None of this is what makes the book most worth reading, though — and it certainly is worth reading . . . .

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It will likely warm the cockles of many a Biglaw heart to hear that a bunch plaintiffs’ attorneys got smacked around by a federal court for trying to steal funds from Uncle Sam. They may beat your clients — and deservedly so, since your clients were totally poisoning people — but at least they won’t be getting away with their fat paychecks. Bask in that satisfaction as you go back to your less lucrative life.

If you want to know exactly how these lawyers did it (so you know what not to do, of course), then read on.

Or if you just want to point and laugh at the irony of public interest plaintiffs’ attorneys getting tagged for failing to pay their fair share to the public coffers, you can read on for that too….

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Getty only has images of women or children sniffing things… because men sniffing women is TOTALLY CREEPY.

Of course sniffing a woman can be sexual harassment. Who would even dispute that? Hovering over a woman and inhaling deeply is the move of creepy rapists in Lifetime movies.

A Dallas magistrate judge ruled against a woman who was fired after complaining that men would come into her office and freaking sniff her. Thankfully, an appeals court reversed… because Jesus Christ, ex-convicts were smelling her and talking about how they needed a “release”….

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As Elie reported on Monday, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel upheld part and struck down another part of a new Texas law regulating abortion. On Tuesday, the Attorney General’s office sought an emergency stay pending appeal and an expedited schedule for the appeal itself. As of press time, the Fifth Circuit has not ruled on the stay motion. The Circuit will hear the appeal, expedited or not, in the coming months.

In July, when the legislature debated the bill that would become the law now at issue, I wrote about it. I wrote about why I thought the specific provisions of this law were sensible. I wrote about why I thought those provisions were not “anti-woman” as the filibustering Wendy Davis claimed. I suggested a handful of concrete, practical, truly pro-woman measures that legislators could take if they want to genuinely advocate for the welfare of women — measures that don’t involve using abortion as a cure-all.

Now, prognosticating about the fate of the this law as it moves up to the Fifth Circuit raises some additional wrinkles for those who would frame the abortion debate as a matter of “pro-woman” pro-choicers and “anti-woman” anti-abortion advocates….

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