Anthony M. Kennedy

The scene outside One First Street after the argument.

Dearly beloved, we were gathered together at SCOTUS today to argue about these fourteen words: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

But we talked a lot about standing. And we did a lot of standing.

What time did I get to the Court?

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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 It was chalked up to a scheduling conflict, but some wondered: had Olson withdrawn because of a fear that he’d be persona non grata?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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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?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Supreme Court Decides To Hear Major Gay Rights Cases”

‘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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[L]aw schools are questioning whether or not they are teaching students the right way, and it seems to me that the bench and the bar can engage in serious discussions with the law schools to advise them whether or not, say for the next 20 years… they have the proper approach for teaching those who will soon be the trustees of the law as active practitioners. That is urgent.

– Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking this week at the Ninth Circuit’s Judicial Conference in Maui.

(Justice Kennedy’s defense of Hawaii as a conference venue, after the jump.)

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Quote of the Day: Justice Kennedy Likes Hawaii; Legal Education, Not So Much”

The vetting of a Supreme Court Justice

Ted Frank tweeted something brilliant at us this weekend. A law professor and blogger, Kyle Graham, was digging through documents at the Reagan Presidential Library. (Side note: if you’ve never been to a presidential library, go; all the ones I’ve been to are excellent.) Professor Graham came across a great find: the vetting form that O’Melveny & Myers chairman A.B. Culvahouse used to vet Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The document is fascinating. Vetting somebody for a lifetime appointment is serious business, but it’s hard to imagine having your private life invaded to this magnitude.

It’s particularly interesting in light of Chief Justice John Roberts’s vote in the Obamacare case. Lots of people have asked why conservatives seem to have problems nominating justices who will doggedly toe the ideological line. Perhaps some answers can be found in the vetting document?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “So You Want To Be A Supreme Court Justice? Don’t Sniff Glue.”

Of course HRH - 'Her Royal Hillaryness' - made the list.

Earlier this week, Time magazine released its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, the Time 100. For lawyers, there’s good news and there’s bad news.

The good news: lawyers represent over 10 percent of the Time 100. The bad news: many of the law-degree-holding honorees were not recognized for their work as lawyers.

So which legal eagles soared into the Time 100 this year?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Most Influential Lawyers in the World: Attorneys on the Time 100″

The Supreme Court handed down a new ruling today, taking a controversial stance in a (literally) sensitive area. The decision should make would-be criminals across the country wince.

In a split decision (is there any other kind these days?), the justices decided that law enforcement is justified in strip-searching anyone, for any offense, before admitting them to jail.

Understandably, a lot of people are butthurt about the 5–4 ruling…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “SCOTUS Rules: More Strip-Searches For Everyone! (At Least, After You Get Arrested)”

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