Akhil Reed Amar

It’s often noted that the United States is governed by the world’s oldest written constitution that is still in use. This is usually stated as praise, though most other products of the eighteenth century, like horse-borne travel and leech-based medical treatment, have been replaced by improved models.

Jeffrey Toobin, writing in the New Yorker about whether the current dysfunction of the federal government might be due, at least in part, to the Constitution.

(Additional notable quotes from his interesting article, after the jump.)

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Well, they give zero f**ks. Not a single one.

They’re wearing a ridiculous piece of fashion because they do not care about your opinion. Remember Gordon Gee? Bill Nye? Donald Duck?

And this universal truism was reaffirmed when the 93-year-old former justice took the stage before a giant gathering of liberal lawyers, jurists, academics, and law students, and patiently told them how wrong they are about DNA and the Fourth Amendment.

This is what happens when you invite Republicans to speak…

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Qualified Arby’s employees are literally willing to die for the company.

* Additional thoughts, from Professor Josh Blackman, on Judge Richard Posner’s awesome streak of book reviews. [Josh Blackman]

* Meanwhile, Professor Kyle Graham wonders: How would Judge Posner review Moby Dick, Fifty Shades of Grey, and other classic literature? Incredibly, that’s how. [noncuratlex]

* Apple responded to Samsung’s blame-the-jury appeal with knives out and guns blazing. [Ars Technica]

* This attempt at using a disguise to commit ID theft was so pathetic, I almost feel bad for the guy. And yes, there is a photo. [Lowering the Bar]

* A longtime Arby’s employee fled when a knife-wielding robber broke into the restaurant in the middle the night. And then Arby’s fired her. At least unemployment > dying alone in an Arby’s. [Consumerist]

* Models, runway shows, and confidentiality agreements, oh my! [Fashionista]


This past Wednesday, Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit delivered the Madison Lecture on Judicial Engagement at Columbia Law School. The lecture series, sponsored by the CLS chapter of the Federalist Society, brings distinguished jurists to Columbia to discuss topics relevant to the federal judiciary and the administration of justice.

(Perhaps we should put “at” Columbia Law in quotation marks; Judge Posner actually appeared via video conference. That shouldn’t surprise, coming from a judge who lists The Matrix as one of his favorite films.)

In his talk, entitled “How I Interpret Statutes and the Constitution,” Judge Posner was his usual candid self. He offered commentary on two recent books about statutory and constitutional interpretation — books that he’s not a fan of.

Yes, readers. There will be benchslaps….

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'I'm ending my 1L year with a B-minus average. What's the point in going on?'

Lat here. Your Above the Law editors occasionally receive requests for advice from readers, to which we sometimes respond. Back in March, for example, Elie Mystal and I debated the merits of Harvard Law School versus Yale Law School, for the benefit of a prospective law student choosing between these two fine institutions. In case you’re wondering, he’s going to Yale.

(The future Yalie explained his decision this way: “I didn’t want to take the chance that even if I worked harder at HLS, I could still be ranked below enough outstanding students to not impress a professor, land a good clerkship, etc. I also got the impression that this risk-averse mentality was what drove many people who were on the fence between YLS and HLS to eventually choose YLS.”)

Choosing between Harvard and Yale is a high-class problem. Today we look at a situation that we’ve addressed before, in 2010 and 2011, and that continues to confront our readers. The question presented: If you do poorly in law school, should you cut your losses and drop out? Or should you keep on trucking and collect that J.D. degree?

We have two fact patterns. One involves a 1L, and one involves a 2L. Let’s hear them out, shall we?

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Professor Philip Bobbitt

In 2008, we profiled celebrity law professor Philip Bobbitt. Professor Bobbitt has a breathtaking résumé, featuring degrees from Princeton (A.B.), Yale (J.D.), and Oxford (Ph.D.); distinguished government service, for both Democratic and Republican administrations; and numerous acclaimed books, including Constitutional Fate: Theory of the Constitution (1982), The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History (2002), and Terror and Consent: the Wars for the Twenty-first Century (2008) (affiliate links). For a very thorough enumeration of his amazing accomplishments, read his excellent Wikipedia page.

Our profile drew heavily upon a New York Observer piece that dubbed him “the James Bond of Columbia Law School.” What did Professor Bobbitt do to earn that sobriquet?

“His mannerisms just kind of ooze a James Bondian kind of quality,” says Vishal Agraharkar, a former [Legal Methods] student and a teaching assistant for this year’s class. “Someone who acts like that in class and outside class we assumed must have just an incredible personal life. James Bond has a hell of a personal life, so he must as well.”

Well, it appears that Professor Bobbitt, 63, does have one heck of a personal life. Over the past few days, we’ve received some rather interesting information about the good professor’s love life. The reports go something like this: “Professor Bobbitt married one of his students! Over the Christmas holiday! She’s a 3L at Columbia Law! And a Turkish princess! They were married at the Supreme Court! By one of the justices!”

As is generally the case with juicy gossip, most of this is true — but some of it is not. Here’s the real story, based on my interview with Professor Bobbitt himself. And wedding photos, of course….

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Jeremy Paul

For Yale, it’s very economically feasible because almost nobody would do it.

Jeremy Paul, dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law, commenting on the likelihood (or lack thereof) of law schools adopting the unconventional tuition reimbursement policy proposed by Yale Law professors Akhil Reed Amar and Ian Ayres in their thought-provoking essay, Paying Students to Quit Law School

Justice Clarence Thomas

Elie here. Imagine Santa Claus stopping by your house — except this time Saint Nick is a mute, who stuffs your stocking with personal responsibility and brings you wooden toys, because those were the only ones available when his legend was born.

Well, joking aside, Justice Clarence Thomas will be stopping by Yale Law School on December 14th. And since there won’t be a case in front of him, he’ll actually be talking.

But not to everybody. Sources tell us — and Yale Dean Robert Post confirmed, in a school-wide email — that Justice Thomas will be speaking to the Yale Federalist Society and to the Black Law Students Association, as well as attending a class and a private reception. He won’t be making any general public appearance.

Setting aside commencement, it’s fairly typical for guest speakers (including Supreme Court justices) to speak to specific student groups and not the law school at large. If Justice Elena Kagan went to Yale, she’d likely speak to the American Constitution Society and the Socratic Hard-Ass Faculty Coven.

Some students claim, however, that the Yale administration has contacted several student organizations and asked them not to protest during Thomas’s visit. We don’t know if that’s true, and a message from Dean Post (reprinted below) does not directly mention anything about student protests. But the mere rumor of Yale trying to quash protests, circulated on “The Wall” (the YLS list-serv), has made some students angry.

Should they be? Strap yourselves in for an ATL Debate….

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How screwed up is legal education these days? One mainstream publication recently published an article suggesting law students should be paid to not go to law school, while the paper of record noted that nobody learns how to be a lawyer in law school anyway.

That’s what it’s come to, folks. Can you imagine Slate, which is owned by the Washington Post, publishing an article suggesting that we should pay M.B.A. candidates to stop going to business school? Can you imagine the New York Times publishing a feature article about how medical students don’t learn anything in medical school?

Welcome to law school, the red-headed stepchild of American professional schools….

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* Of shaken babies and unsure verdicts. This long piece in the Times Magazine, by Emily Bazelon, is well worth your time. For those who require a funny take on shaking, there’s always this totally NSFW Chris Rock bit. [New York Times Magazine]

* What do willful violations of antitrust law and not being admitted to the Super Bowl with a valid ticket have in common? Treble damages. [SI.com]

* David Stern got it turned around on him, like a guy who was the foreclosure king and won’t have any need for a strap-on where he’s going. [ABC News]

* Let us celebrate the Green Bay Packers win last night by remembering a more innocent time — a year ago, when viewers of the Super Bowl weren’t eye-raped by the Black Eyed Peas and, instead, eye-caressed by sweet sweet porn. [New York Daily News]

* Speaking of innocent Super Bowl revelry… child prostitution! [Time]

* Raquel Balsam paid too much for her SUNY education and now she says “I pretty much felt cheated on.” Like it got turned around on her… yeah, I’m using that twice. [New York Times]

* Yale law professor Akhil Amar shows Judge Vinson his pimp hand is way strong. [Los Angeles Times]

* AOL has purchased The Huffington Post. AOL, like Radio Shack, refuses to die. [Reuters]