Antonin Scalia

Justice Kennedy announced the majority opinion in a long anticipated case today. It was met with a blistering dissent by Justice Scalia.

Unfortunately for most Court watchers, it was not the opinion in Fisher v. University of Texas, the latest in the Court’s attempts to resolve whether affirmative action in higher education is constitutional. Some observers expressed annoyance.

Instead, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Maryland v. King, which Justice Alito previously identified as potentially the most important law enforcement decision in decades. The Court held that the police can take your DNA any time you’ve been arrested for a “serious” crime.

But the real fun was in the dissent….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Righteous Indignation, our new column for conservative-minded lawyers.

On Monday, the Supreme Court decided City of Arlington v. FCC. The question before SCOTUS was whether courts must defer to a federal regulatory agency’s interpretation of a statutory ambiguity even when that ambiguity involves the scope of the agency’s authority — its own jurisdiction.

Justice Scalia wrote for the majority, holding that even in cases such as this one, agencies are entitled to the usual deference established in Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. — aka Chevron deference. Chief Justice Roberts dissented, joined by Justices Kennedy and Alito.

The outcome of City of Arlington should be noteworthy to Court watchers — and conservatives in particular — for several reasons. First, the Scalia-Roberts split quiets the simplistic refrain that SCOTUS decides cases down rigid liberal-conservative lines. Second, it highlights an ongoing debate among conservative members of the Court about fundamental issues concerning the separation of powers and constitutional governance. Third, the Scalia and Roberts opinions demonstrate that, far from reserving their barbs for the left, conservatives can be pretty darn snarky amongst themselves.

So, let’s have a closer look….

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This morning, the New York Times published an op-ed by actress Angelina Jolie discussing her decision to get a preventative double mastectomy.

Jolie is being hailed as an inspiration for coming forward with this story, which marks an amazing turn-around for a woman who used to make out with her brother and carry vials of her then-husband’s blood around her neck.

The actress decided to take the preventative measure after genetic testing determined that she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.

Now, Jolie is a movie star married to another movie star, so the decision to undergo an expensive procedure did not deter her like it will many women in the United States.

Not the mastectomy. Insurance usually covers that if the patient presents such risks. No, the expensive procedure is the initial genetic testing. And the Supreme Court might be able to do something about that in the next couple of months…

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More trustworthy than any SCOTUS justice.

I suppose that’s a rhetorical question. When you live in a nation that’s been reduced to an army of mindless reality-TV-watching drones, it’s not exactly surprising that the average citizen is more inclined to trust a television judge than a jurist who’s been appointed to the highest court in the land.

We care more about the matching camouflage wedding couture Honey Boo Boo’s parents, Mama June and Sugar Bear, wore when they tied the knot this past weekend than the next round of controversial decisions that will be soon be handed down by the Supreme Court. We care more about the Kimye baby bump than the very existence of the Supreme Court, much less the names of the justices sitting on its esteemed bench.

No one who’s been paying any attention is taken aback by the fact that Americans care more about the people they see on television on a daily basis than names they once read in a textbook. That’s why the results of the latest Reader’s Digest Trust Poll as to this country’s judges are expected, and sad, and not at all surprising….

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Justices Scalia and Thomas

The Supreme Court seems divided over same sex marriage. The liberal justices favor it, while the conservatives oppose any lifelong sacred union between two men — unless, of course, it’s Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Conan O’Brien, host of the White House Correspondents dinner, poking a bit of fun at one of the Supreme Court justices who was in attendance at the event.

Justice Antonin Scalia

In the light of the evolving standards of decency, somehow we at the Supreme Court, we Harvard and Yale lawyers, we somehow can perceive these evolving standards of decency because we learned all this stuff at Harvard Law School.

– Justice Antonin Scalia, joking about the justices of the Supreme Court bench and their ability to interpret constitutional law based solely on the prestigious law schools they attended.

Jose Canseco

hey buddy I also think waterboard and shoot but scalia was clear in hamdi dissent that citizens get due process.

– Former MLB player and self-confessed juice head Jose Canseco, explaining to Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, via Twitter the reason why Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shouldn’t be treated as an enemy combatant.

This is the problem with allowing only one black person into your little club, be it your country club, your journalistic publication, or your Supreme Court. When you have only one black voice, the brilliant diversity of thought and opinion within the black community can be reduced to Samuel L. Jackson playing Steven, over-laughing and telling you exactly what you want to hear.

Or it can be reduced to one dude on a revenge jihad.

Regardless, if you are only going to let one black person in, it kind of matters who you let in. And that’s why so many people who believe in the advancement of civil rights have such a visceral, negative reaction to Clarence Thomas. It’s not because Thomas isn’t “black enough.” It’s not because he’s a “sell out.” Those are stupid terms that don’t really apply to Thomas anyway.

The problem with Thomas is that despite being the lone black voice in the institution of government that is best positioned to protect minority rights against the vagaries of majority rule, Thomas’s approach to racial justice can best be summed up as, “I got mine, screw the next generation.” The man is so unable to overcome the racism visited upon him that he holds the perverse view that laws that help minorities magically hobble them. Yet he’ll allow majority rule to hobble black people as they see fit. He thinks that the law singles out people as different, as opposed to the somewhat self-evident truth that people define others as different, and then use those distinctions to discriminate. He was hurt by white people thinking that he only got somewhere “because of affirmative action,” but instead of just dealing with it, he now seeks to block the path for others to follow in his footsteps.

Thomas might not want to be a “minority leader,” but he is by simple fact of his important position. Don’t take my word for it, take Justice Scalia’s. Personally, I think that Scalia is more than capable of coming up with his racist BS on his own, but the man just blamed praised Thomas for “leading” his thoughts down a more asinine path.

But it shows why it matters so much who you let in when you only let in one. And it shows why Thomas has been such a colossal failure as a successor to Thurgood Marshall….

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* “Yes, it is true.” Justice Scalia admitted in a speech this week that he was guided to the right by his colleague, Justice Thomas, who’s apparently “a very stubborn man.” [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* It’s about time to say so long to your ticking tax time bomb: in President Obama’s proposed budget for 2014, he eliminates taxes on forgiven loan debt under all IBR plans. [Bucks / New York Times]

* “I am the luckiest man in the world.” Larry Macon, an Akin Gump partner from Texas, had nearly finished the Boston Marathon when the bombs exploded, but lived to tell his tale. [Am Law Daily]

* Because sometimes you need to steal $374K worth of copy toner. This ex-Fried Frank staffer pleaded guilty to grand larceny, and is looking at up to 15 years in jail. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Judge Victor Marrero isn’t a fan of SEC policy, but when it comes to this civil insider trading case, SAC Capital may get to walk away without admitting or denying anything. [DealBook / New York Times]

* This Yale Law graduate is suing Brooks Brothers over a three-button suit, and wants $2K for the 90 minutes he spent arguing over it in the store. Who is the $1333/hour man? [New York Daily News]

The title is phrased like a joke, because this whole story plays like a joke: full of misunderstandings and dumb decisions. Hm. Typing that out made me realize that also describes most of the weekends of my adult life if you just add the phrase, “I’ll have another Manhattan.”

We set the stage for this joke in my home town of Portland, Oregon, and the campus of the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College. Last week, Chief Justice John Roberts visited the school to judge a moot court competition.

But the real controversy began after the Chief skipped town and the Dean started monkeying with the press coverage of the event — and blaming his actions on the Supreme Court…

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