Arlen Specter

Give this man a federal judgeship.’ That sounded as if I were desperate, which I was . . . .

– Judge Leslie Southwick, in response to a Washington Post headline during his confirmation struggle.

In The Nominee: A Political and Spiritual Journey, Judge Leslie H. Southwick chronicles the long path to his current seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Southwick is a former Mississippi Court of Appeals judge, former deputy assistant attorney general in the first Bush Administration, and Iraq war veteran. He was recommended by Mississippi senators for a Fifth Circuit vacancy in 1991 and 2004, for a district judgeship in 2004 and 2006, before his final nomination in 2007. He initially appeared to be an uncontroversial nominee. However, a fierce partisan battle in the Senate threatened his eventual success. The Nominee follows Southwick’s tortuous path, relying on the judge’s day-by-day personal notes.

Southwick’s account is fascinating on its face. He drops names on every page, and it’s exciting to trace the earlier steps of those who would become legal luminaries in later years. For those only generally familiar with the way that federal judges get made — a process resembling in unsettling ways how sausage gets made, Southwick notes — the book provides an education in both the official and the unofficial processes. The book will certainly satisfy in excruciating detail the curiosity of anyone who wonders exactly how stubbornly political the judicial confirmation process has become.

Notably, the book shows just how long the process can be. Before he clears the Senate Judiciary Committee vote, before his nomination even reaches the Senate floor, Southwick writes that the day “was a double anniversary of my seeking a position on the Fifth Circuit. In my diary, I wrote, ‘Tuesday, 10 July. Sixteen years today since this started,’ meaning that I learned on July 10, 1991, that Judge Charles Clark was retiring. In addition, the 1991 date was exactly sixteen years after I wrote my July 10, 1975, letter applying to clerk for Judge Clark.” Judges, whether made the right way or not, are not made overnight.

None of this is what makes the book most worth reading, though — and it certainly is worth reading . . . .

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Arlen Specter was always a fighter. From his days stamping out corruption as a prosecutor in Philadelphia to his three decades of service in the Senate, Arlen was fiercely independent — never putting party or ideology ahead of the people he was chosen to serve.

– President Obama, remembering former Senator Arlen Specter, who died yesterday at age 82. Specter played a central role many controversial Congressional legal battles, including his aggressive questioning of Anita Hill and helping defeat Robert Bork’s SCOTUS bid.

DSK wants to know: since when is having a libido a crime?

* What effect will the Supreme Court’s ruling in Miller v. Alabama, striking down life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders, have in the real world? [New York Times]

* Coming out of the First Circuit, some good news on attorneys fees for civil rights lawyers. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Speaking of fees, which firms are raking them in as emerging market companies starting emerging onto the M&A scene? [American Lawyer]

* You’ve got to fight… for your right… to teach legal writing at the University of Iowa. At least if you’re a conservative. That’s the allegation by an aspiring academic, Teresa Wagner, which hits a courtroom this week. [Houston Chronicle]

* Former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn wants to know: is enjoying the occasional orgy such a crime? [Gothamist]

* Career alternatives: Mary Wittenberg — chief executive of New York Road Runners, which puts on the New York Marathon — is a Notre Dame law grad and former Hunton & Williams lawyer. [New York Times]

* Former Senator Arlen Specter, an active participant in historic Supreme Court nomination battles, RIP. [Philadelphia Daily News]

Mel Gibson

* Mel Gibson has reached a plea agreement in a battery case involving his ex-girlfriend. #losing #BeaverBlood [Associated Press]

* Meanwhile, Lilo isn’t accepting her plea deal. No ma’am. Not for all the Texas booger sugar in the world. Well, maybe for all the Texas booger sugar. But that wasn’t really offered. [New York Post]

* A look at Jowls McRaisinhead’s Arlen Specter’s move to solo practice. [Legal Intelligencer via WSJ Law Blog]

* The Wisconsin Senate passed sweeping curbs on collective bargaining yesterday. The protesters are still howling, but I wonder how loud they’ll be when Pinkertons shove batons in their faces. That’s not actually happening. I just have a fairly violent and anachronistic imagination. [Reuters]

* House Republicans have gone meta in promising a defense of the Defense of Marriage Act. [Los Angeles Times]

* State Senator Carl Kruger, of Brooklyn, will turn himself in on corruption charges today. Big up to Crooklyn. [New York Times]

* Coach Sweater Vest’s hilarious understanding of attorney-client privilege is hilarious. [The Lantern]

* Profits per partner at Kirkland & Ellis topped $3 million in 2010, and the firm boosted its revenue even though it shed some lawyers. I Can Has Spring Bonus? [Am Law Daily]

Virginia Seitz: The Finishing School for the Elect's new headmistress?

* How much would you need to be paid to spend 40 hours in prison? Does $200,000 sound about right? [Maryland Daily Record]

* C’mon, libs, John Yoo isn’t heartless — he opposes slavery, for crying out loud. Meanwhile, Richard Epstein agrees with Yoo that the original Constitution was far from perfect. [Ricochet (Yoo); Ricochet (Epstein)]

* Sidley Austin partner Virginia Seitz — a member of The Elect (Brennan / OT 1986), and descended from Article III aristocracy, as the daughter of the late Judge Collins Seitz (3d Cir.) — is looking like President Obama’s pick for the powerful and prestigious Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). [Main Justice]

* Sen. Arlen Specter recently complained that “the Supreme Court has been eating Congress’ lunch.” If the Sanchez sisters brought gandules y pernil, look under Lady Soto’s robe. [ACSblog]

* Congratulations to the six lawyers selected by incoming New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for his front office (including Nancy Hoppock, my fantastic former colleague from the U.S. Attorney’s office). [WSJ Law Blog]

* At some point, all the injuries arising out of the ill-fated Spider-Man Broadway musical have to generate at least one lawsuit, right? [Gothamist]

Justice Antonin Scalia, being interviewed by Jan Crawford of CBS News at the Federalist Society's annual dinner in Washington, DC.

On Thursday evening, I had the great pleasure of attending the annual dinner at the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention, in Washington, D.C. The event — attended by an estimated 1,400 people, and held in the cavernous ballroom at the Omni Shoreham — featured, as always, conservative and libertarian legal luminaries galore.

(Did Judge Diane Sykes just air-kiss Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain? Isn’t that Ken Cuccinelli over at the bar? What might Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Jeff Sutton be discussing so intently — maybe the latest clerks they’ve placed at the Supreme Court? Whoa — Ted Olson chatting with Justice Samuel Alito! Be still my heart….)

The highlight of the evening was the interview of Justice Antonin Scalia by Jan Crawford, chief legal correspondent of CBS News (who was looking fabulous in a black dress with open sleeves). The justice was in fine form, hilarious and freewheeling in his remarks….

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In addition to her intellect, academic and professional qualifications, Kagan did just enough to win my vote by her answers that television would be good for the country and the court, and by identifying Justice Marshall as her role model.

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), explaining in a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece why he will vote in favor of Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

* Sen. Arlen Specter — a Yale Law School grad and former Philadelphia district attorney, by the way — loses the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania; ophthalmologist Rand Paul, son of Rep. Ron Paul, wins the Republican primary in Kentucky. [Washington Post]

* BP hires Kirkland & Ellis for the oil spill litigation — a sign that BP intends to fight. [Chicago Tribune via ABA Journal]

* McDermott Will & Emery gets hit with an age discrimination lawsuit. [Am Law Daily]

* Lawyers at Weitz & Luxenberg, the prominent personal injury firm — perhaps you’ve heard their radio ads? — have donated heavily to the New York attorney general campaign of Kathleen Rice. [New York Times]

* Obama’s aunt will not be deported to Kenya. [CNN]

* Elena Kagan has submitted answers to the Senate questionnaire for her Supreme Court nomination (in a record five days). Her net worth is almost $1.8 million, a sizable increase from the last reported figure (apparently thanks to the sale of her Cambridge house). [Washington Post]

* A portrait of Lady Kaga as a young graduate student: in her Oxford thesis, she wrote that it was “not necessarily wrong or invalid” for judges to “try to mold and steer the law” to achieve social ends. [New York Times]