Anthony Kennedy

A few years ago, I was covering some conservative legal or political conference where Ted Olson was scheduled to appear. At some point before his scheduled appearance, it was announced that he’d be unable to attend. It was chalked up to a scheduling conflict, but some wondered: had Olson withdrawn because of a fear that he’d be persona non grata? This was not long after he had filed the case that’s now before the U.S. Supreme Court as Hollingsworth v. Perry, and some conservatives were unhappy with the former solicitor general’s taking up the cause of marriage equality, viewing it as a betrayal.

Oh how times have changed. Now prominent Republicans are lining up to support the cause of marriage equality in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Yes, February 14 was almost two weeks ago. But on Thursday, a bunch of leading conservatives will send Justice Anthony M. Kennedy a valentine….

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In her bestselling memoir, My Beloved World (affiliate link), Justice Sonia Sotomayor recounts her journey from the projects of the South Bronx to the bench of the United States Supreme Court. Given that background, one would expect Justice Sotomayor to have a weak spot for young women who make it to One First Street from improbable places.

So it makes perfect sense that Justice Sotomayor has hired the first-ever Brooklyn Law School graduate to serve as a Supreme Court law clerk: Sparkle Sooknanan, a 2010 graduate of BLS who is currently an appellate attorney at the Justice Department. We’ve heard Sooknanan described as “an awesome human being” and “brilliant” — and with a name like “Sparkle,” the brilliance must be literal.

Sparkle isn’t the only bright young lawyer to claim a shiny new credential for the résumé. Read on for additional news of Supreme Court clerk hiring….

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It’s that time of year again! Time for all lawyers to tear themselves away from drinking at their desks and gather around a television to participate in an Above the Law drinking game.

Where else is there a drinking game focused on Justice Ginsburg AND Ted Nugent?

Remember to follow your Above the Law editors covering the speech via Twitter. See @ATLblog, @DavidLat, @ElieNYC, @StaciZaretsky, and @JosephPatrice (because a week after the fact, I realize it’s too difficult to tweet from my usual handle and have people realize who I am).

Unless otherwise noted, take a sip whenever these come up….

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Justice Scalia as Venetian doge.

If you watched the inauguration ceremonies, whether in person or on television, you may have noticed all nine Supreme Court justices out in force. Supreme fashions generated tons of talk on Twitter, especially Justice Alito’s snazzy sunglasses; Justice Ginsburg’s huge hat, which made her look like a toy soldier; and Justice Breyer and Justice Scalia’s jaunty skullcaps, discussed by Tony Mauro and Josh Blackman (among others). According to Kevin Walsh, Justice Scalia’s was a gift from the St. Thomas More Society of Richmond, Virginia.

That’s on the level of style. What about substance? How will the Supreme Court affect President Obama, and how will President Obama affect the Court, as we enter the 44th president’s second term?

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There is a 64 percent probability that at least one Supreme Court justice will die in the next four years….

– The ABA Journal, offering a rather grim assessment of the health and wellness of the justices of the nation’s highest court, based on Slate’s Supreme Court Justice Death Calculator. (You may want to start taking bets.)

The Defense of Marriage Act. California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage. These were two of the big issues that the U.S. Supreme Court was deciding whether to hear this Term.

The Court just issued its certiorari orders. What happened?

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The Supreme Court’s 2008-2009 Term resulted in many notable decisions, including Ricci v. DeStafano and NAMUDNO v. Holder. It also resulted in some epic romances among the law clerks who ruled the building that year. This edition of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch features an astounding five Supreme Court clerks, all from that steamy OT ’08 class.

With five SCOTUS clerks — plus one former White House counsel — this is sure to be one prestige-drenched competition. Settle in, wedding watchers. Here are your finalists:

Jennifer Wynn and Damian Williams

Erin Delaney and Travis Lenkner

Miriam Seifter and Robert Yablon

Beth Nolan and Charles Wright

You’ll find all the details on these lawyer newlyweds, plus many more, after the jump.

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‘I’m coming for you, SCOTUS.’

Legal elites fared well on election night. For example, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren is now Senatrix-elect Elizabeth Warren, after expertly landing Langdell Hall on top of Scott Brown (“I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little pickup truck too!”). As a Divacrat — I support strong, strident, brilliant (sorry Sarah Palin) women, regardless of their political party — I’m already fantasizing about Clinton/Warren in 2016.

Joining Warren on the Senate floor will be another great legal mind who spent some time in Cambridge, Harvard law grad and former SCOTUS clerk Ted Cruz. The Morgan Lewis partner is one of several current or former Biglaw attorneys who won office on Tuesday. (For more, see Am Law Daily.)

The biggest winner of the evening, of course, is also a legal elite: President Barack Obama. He’s a former law professor, like Warren; an HLS grad, like Cruz; and the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Things don’t get much more elite than that.

And in the legal world, things don’t get much more elite than the United States Supreme Court. This brings us to today’s question: What will a second Obama term mean for the Supreme Court?

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Jeffrey Toobin

There are four justices in their 70s now. Ruth Ginsburg is 79. She’s probably the most likely to leave if Obama is reelected because she’s sympathetic to him politically.

The next two oldest are Justice Scalia and Justice Kennedy who are 76, who probably don’t want to leave if Obama’s president, but they’re starting to get to the age where, you know, you don’t know exactly when your term is up, as they say.

– CNN’s senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court (affiliate link), discussing where the Supreme Court could be headed if President Obama is elected for another term. Toobin’s remarks were delivered during The Colbert Report.

(Does Toobin think that President Obama will appoint a gay polar bear to the Supreme Court if Justice Ginsburg retires? Let’s see….)

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How many justices can you name?

Despite all the recent controversy surrounding U.S. Supreme Court decisions on health care, immigration and other issues, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t name even a single member of the Supreme Court.

– a depressing conclusion drawn from a recent FindLaw telephone survey on the Supreme Court.

(What else can be learned from the absurd results of this survey?)

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