Alex Kozinski

While we wait for the Supreme Court to rule on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) — by the way, live audio or video coverage would be nice — let’s pick up where we left off yesterday, with coverage of the latest Supreme Court clerk hiring.

We’ll start with some analysis of the October Term 2012 law clerks, now that we know who they are, and then show you the updated law clerk lists for OT 2012 and OT 2013….

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Judge Paul Watford

Congratulations to the newest member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Honorable Paul J. Watford. On Monday, Watford, currently a 44-year-old partner at the super-elite Munger Tolles & Olson, was confirmed to the federal bench. The vote was 61-34, and it came after a bit of drama in the Senate.

It’s surprising that Watford’s nomination was so contentious, given that he has a number of backers from the right side of the aisle. As noted by the San Francisco Chronicle, “[h]is supporters included conservative UCLA law Professor Eugene Volokh, who has described Watford as brilliant and ideologically moderate, and attorney Jeremy Rosen, former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the conservative Federalist Society” (and a noted appellate lawyer, who has appeared before in these pages).

That’s not all. Watford clerked for Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, one of a handful of prominent conservative or libertarian judges on the (generally liberal) Ninth Circuit. If you look at the ranks of former Kozinski clerks, you’ll see many members in good standing of the vast right-wing conspiracy (and some who are not, like Paul Watford — who went on to clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and was nominated to the Ninth Circuit by a Democratic president).

Now that the handsome Watford has joined his superhottie boss on the bench, we have a trivia question: Who is the circuit judge with the most former law clerks to join him on the Court of Appeals during his lifetime?

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The federal judiciary recently lost two of its most distinguished members. One was a trial judge on the East Coast, and one was an appellate judge on the West Coast (as well as the nation’s longest-serving federal appellate judge).

Both were leading lights of the Article III judiciary. They will be deeply missed by their courts; their clerks, current and former; and their colleagues….

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Majority opinions are hardly sitting ducks for the criticism dissentals may heap on them. If a panel majority finds that a dissental scores some valid points, it can modify its opinion to eliminate the problem, something that happens regularly in the Ninth Circuit. Indeed, fear that internal criticisms will be taken public often causes judges to moderate outlier opinions so as to present a smaller target for public criticism and possible certiorari. One of us (yes, the hot one) is even aware of a case where the panel withdrew its opinion and reversed the result, after winning the en banc vote, in the teeth of a stinging dissental.

– Chief Judge Alex Kozinski (9th Cir.) and his former law clerk, James Burnham of Jones Day, in a Yale Law Journal online essay entitled I Say Dissental, You Say Concurral (defending the practice of filing a dissental, aka dissenting from the denial of rehearing en banc).

(Additional discussion, after the jump.)

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The law is for muppets!

– Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, at a Fordham Law moot court competition. According to a tipster, Judge Kozinski was alluding to the very public resignation of Greg Smith from Goldman Sachs last week, in the course of dismissing a student’s point that the panel should rely solely on the law to decide the case.

Montana Chief Judge Richard Cebull

Montana Chief Judge Richard Cebull started the first day of the rest of his life today. The judge who sent around a racist and sexist email about Barack Obama and the president’s dead mother started the “damage control” process that will never really end.

Richard Cebull could emancipate slaves and everybody would still know he’s a racist. Obviously, his family and friends already knew he was racist, but now the general public gets to know. There’s nothing for it now. Whether or not he will still be allowed to have a job is pretty much all he can fight for.

And he is: he’s voluntarily asked the Ninth Circuit to review his conduct. And he’s written a letter of apology to President Obama — who is rapidly on his way to becoming the most poorly treated president in American history (even though the last one was openly thought to be mentally retarded, and the one before that was impeached for getting a BJ).

But we’ll get to all that. First, free of charge, I’m going to slow down long enough let everybody catch up to why the original letter was racist, and why sending the thing makes Cebull a racist, too….

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* John Edwards’s heart condition has improved, so his campaign finance trial will begin in April. Your heart condition would be more manageable, too, if you knew your sex tapes were going to be destroyed. [Bloomberg]

* Despite his love of all things fabulous (like peep-toe shoes), Proposition 8 plaintiffs don’t want Chief Judge Alex Kozinski to hear their arguments on an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit. [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]

* Instead of filing a motion to dismiss like Cooley and NYLS, Florida Coastal School of Law has removed its law school lawsuit to federal court. Will this be the start of a new trend? [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* A witness claims that Dharun Ravi “appeared uncomfortable” because his roommate was gay — so uncomfortable that he allegedly set up a webcam to watch his intimate encounters. That makes sense. [CNN]

* Objection! Lindsay Lohan is hosting Saturday Night Live, but her lawyer had to approve all of her skits. What a shame. Bobby Moynihan would’ve been great as Judge Sautner. [Daily Dish / San Francisco Chronicle]

Judge Jeffrey White

At the administrative appeal from the denial of benefits, Chief Judge Kozinski found that the FEHB statute confers on the OPM [Office of Personnel Management] the discretion to extend health benefits to same-sex couples by interpreting the terms “family members” and “member of the family” to set a floor, not a ceiling, to coverage eligibility…. The Court finds this reasoning unpersuasive.

– Judge Jeffrey S. White, in his recent order in Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management, which concluded that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

(Context and commentary, after the jump.)

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He grows strong off the tears of fired workers.

* There’s a new chief legal officer at Morgan Stanley: Eric Grossman, a former Davis Polk partner, replaces Frank Barron, a former Cravath partner (who joined Morgan Stanley not that long ago; if you know more about this odd situation, email us). [Bloomberg Businessweek]

* Will anybody be surprised if it turns out that Ron Paul likes to fire people too? [Politico]

* Et tu, Bill Kristol? [Weekly Standard]

* How will Citizens United affect the political process? We’re starting to find out. [WSJ Law Blog]

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski

* How often does a federal judge get a shout-out in the announcement of a pop music group’s tour? [The Music Network]

* Or how often does a federal judge go on tour with his own band? [Patently-O]

* Maybe the NLRB should stay the course on protecting employees’ rights to organize themselves using social media. [LexisNexis / Labor & Employment Law]

* Most people will just ignore the balanced budget amendment as proposed by Chuck Woolery (yes, that Chuck Woolery), but on the off chance that somebody actually says to you, “You know, Chuck Woolery has some really good ideas,” here’s somebody who took the time to smack the Chuckster down. [Recess Appointment]

Let’s play a quick game (which we might return to later if there’s interest). If we were to give out awards to the different federal judicial circuits, in the manner of a high school yearbook, which awards would go to the different circuits? Here are some of my nominations:

(Article III groupies: Feel free to suggest others, in the comments.)

As for the other awards, well, they’d all go to the Ninth Circuit. It’s the nation’s most famous (or infamous) federal appeals court, so it would win “Most Likely To Become A Celebrity.” It’s the biggest, so it would win “Most Popular” (especially among the ACS and ACLU crowd). It would win “Most Athletic,” since it includes California. And it would win “Biggest Flirt,” thanks to its numerous superhottie judges. (Don’t you wish they all could be California jurists?)

The Ninth Circuit would also run away with “Most Likely To Be Made Fun of on YouTube” — since it already has been. How many circuit courts can claim that distinction?

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