Barack Obama

Mmm… taxes.

* Click here if you’d like to see how Obama evolved to his current position on same-sex marriage. Alternatively, click here to see a terribly Photoshopped picture of Obama catching a basketball bouquet. [New York Times Magazine]

* Should you enroll in law school? Should you do it… TODAY? Please come on over and take a look at the latest parade of law professors trumpeting right now as the best time ever to go to law school. [National Law Journal]

* University of Colorado School of Law just received its largest gift ever, to the sweet tune of $10 million. It’ll fund $400,000 in student scholarships, but mostly, it’ll be used to hire MOAR law professors. [Denver Business Journal]

* Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be allowed to view victims’ autopsy pictures and visit privately with his sister. Members of his crazy fan club must be so incredibly jealous. [CNN]

* Next time, make TurboTax your “cheap whore”? This guy claims he was “seduced” by an IRS agent who then refused to help him with his tax audit. He sued, and is now appealing to the Ninth Circuit. [ABC News]

A few months ago, we noted that the FBI had quietly admitted that its primary function was no longer law enforcement (as it was supposed to be), but rather “national security.” Because fighting terrorism is hot. Putting bankers destroying the economy in jail? Not hot. As we noted at the time, the numbers showed that the FBI was putting a huge part of its budget towards “counterterrorism” (potentially doing much more to destroy your civil liberties than the NSA) and its efforts to take down white collar crime was dropping significantly.

A new report from the Justice Department’s Inspector General confirms this finding. It also notes that, despite President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder promising (yeah, I know…) that cracking down on “mortgage fraud” was a top priority, the FBI has actually put it near the bottom of the list of actual priorities. Say one thing, do another. That sounds mighty familiar…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Despite Promises To Fight Mortgage Fraud, DOJ Basically Ignored It, Then Claimed Success With Faulty Stats”

I don’t do politics in this column.

For two good reasons: First, Lat asked me to write about life as an in-house lawyer or, at a minimum, an in-house lawyer’s perception of outside firms. If I wrote about politics, I’d be way off the mark. Second, I work at the world’s leading insurance broker for law firms. If I wrote about politics — no matter which side I took — I’d offend half my readers. Some of those offended readers would complain to their brokers, and I’d soon have a phalanx of brokers with pitchforks storming my office door.

But I’m throwing caution (and Lat’s instructions about topicality) to the wind today, and I’m posing a question that struck me recently: Set your mind back to 1983, the year in which I graduated from law school. Suppose, in 1983, someone posed this question to you:

Look into the future. When will each of these events occur? (1) We’ll elect an African-American President of the United States; (2) states will begin legalizing gay marriage; and (3) states will begin legalizing the use of marijuana. Which will occur first, second, and third, and in what years?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Which Will Come First — A Black President, Gay Marriage, Or Legalization Of Marijuana?”

This week, Emad Abdullah Hassan, a Yemeni man held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002, renewed his legal effort to fight the policy of tube-feeding detainees on hunger strike in protest against their ongoing detention. Last month, the D.C. Circuit held that the federal courts have jurisdiction over cases where Gitmo detainees challenge the terms of their confinement, though the panel declined to enjoin the practice of forced feeding. (You can read the specific claims in Hassan’s case here.)

Nasogastric feeding, the method used with Gitmo hunger-strikers, is where medical staff deliver liquid nutrition directly to a patient’s stomach via a thin plastic tube inserted through the nose.

Critics call the forced feeding torture. Is it?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Who Cares If Gitmo Detainees Starve to Death?”

Back in November 2013, the U.S. Senate passed the so-called “nuclear option,” eliminating the threat of squelching the president’s executive branch and judicial nominations by filibuster. Under the new rules, a nominee only needs 51 votes to break a potential filibuster, instead of the 60 votes previously needed. Democratic senators lubricated nominees’ paths to confirmation. Finally, we were told, a cantankerous Republican minority could no longer block all the well-qualified, uncontroversial nominees that the president had waiting in the queue.

Nevertheless, yesterday the Senate voted to reject President Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. The 47 – 52 vote failed to reach the 51 votes necessary to achieve cloture and advance the nomination. Seven Democratic senators — Senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, John Walsh of Montana and Chris Coons of Delaware — opposed the nominee. Adegbile is perhaps best known for his work leading litigation for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, often known simply as LDF.

No Republicans voted against their party line. Perhaps some of them opposed his nomination on principle; perhaps some reflexively opposed an Obama nominee. The Democrats who voted against Adegbile, however, took a clear and conscious against him. Effectively, Democrats killed Adegbile’s nomination.

Why? Despite his other professional accomplishments, Adegbile’s problems in the Senate can be summed up in a word: Mumia. In six words: convicted and controversial cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal . . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Welcome To The Post-Filibuster Senate: The Bipartisan Rejection Of Debo Adegbile”

Kristen Saban

* Justice Scalia apparently has an ulterior motive for his hatred of deep-dish pizza: “He’s just trying to undermine Barack Obama because he’s a Chicago guy.” God, can’t the guy just like New York style pizza better? Come on. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Now that the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules have been smacked down by the D.C. Circuit, the agency is going to start from scratch and come up with some new ones. Yeah, good luck with that. [National Law Journal]

* “Roll your window up, ignore the taunting, put your car in reverse, move a parking spot over.” These are some of the ways you can avoid killing black teenagers over loud music, says a Michael Dunn juror. [CNN]

* The toupee gave it away: A lawyer who used to work as an i-banker at Stratton Oakmont is suing for defamation over a character he claims was modeled after him in the “Wolf of Wall Street.” [ABC News]

* The lawsuit filed against Nick Saban’s daughter by her sorority sister was tossed under Alabama’s “stand your ground” rule over her objections that she was kind of like a defenseless receiver. [Associated Press]

Bradley Cooper: a very handsome man, but sadly not a lawyer.

Seemingly random small-firm lawyers from Alabama weren’t the only legal types in attendance at the White House State Dinner on Tuesday evening. Indeed, as we’ve previously noted, numerous legal celebrities attended the festivities as well.

Sure, there were some “celebrity celebrities” at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that night. The guest list included such boldface names as J.J. Abrams, Stephen Colbert, Bradley Cooper, Mindy Kaling, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

But who cares about Hollywood? Above the Law readers are more interested in the government lawyers, federal judges, Biglaw partners and law professors who attended this major social event….

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Kourtney and Caleb Ballew, posing for a picture while at the White House for a state dinner with President Obama (with a portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the background).

The White House State Dinner that President Barack Obama hosted on Tuesday night in honor of President François Hollande of France featured quite the convocation of legal eagles. As we mentioned yesterday, attendees included such law-world luminaries as Justice Elena Kagan, Secretary Jeh Johnson, and ATL’s reigning Lawyer of the Year, Roberta Kaplan.

Also in attendance: Caleb Ballew and Kourtney Ballew. They’re a pair of twenty-something, small-firm lawyers from Huntsville, Alabama.

Say what? Did the Obama White House get Salahi’d again?

Actually, no. The Ballews came as honored guests of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Because the Obamas have had so few state dinners, invitations to the ones they do host are in especially high demand. How did two recent law school graduates score one of the most coveted invites in the country? I interviewed the Ballews to find out….

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It’s time for the State of the Union again, which means it’s time to gather around the TV and thoughtfully discuss the future of the country play a sophomoric game based on the events that we expect to unfold over the course of the evening.

Remember to follow your Above the Law editors covering the speech via Twitter. See @ATLblog@DavidLat@ElieNYC@StaciZaretsky, and @JosephPatrice.

Now, on to the game….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “BINGO! Getting Drunk During the State of the Union”

The New Yorker recently published a profile of President Barack Obama, written by David Remnick. Eighteen pages and approximately 17,000 words long, it’s the sort of long-form journalism many of us yearn for in a blighted age of listicles and blurbs and click-bait articles the titles of which sound more like threats than topics of meaningful discussion.

In the piece, the President says:

“There is a historic connection between some of the arguments that we have politically and the history of race in our country, and sometimes it’s hard to disentangle those issues [ . . . ] You can be somebody who, for very legitimate reasons, worries about the power of the federal government—that it’s distant, that it’s bureaucratic, that it’s not accountable—and as a consequence you think that more power should reside in the hands of state governments. But what’s also true, obviously, is that philosophy is wrapped up in the history of states’ rights in the context of the civil-rights movement and the Civil War and Calhoun. There’s a pretty long history there. And so I think it’s important for progressives not to dismiss out of hand arguments against my Presidency or the Democratic Party or Bill Clinton or anybody just because there’s some overlap between those criticisms and the criticisms that traditionally were directed against those who were trying to bring about greater equality for African-Americans. The flip side is I think it’s important for conservatives to recognize and answer some of the problems that are posed by that history, so that they understand if I am concerned about leaving it up to states to expand Medicaid that it may not simply be because I am this power-hungry guy in Washington who wants to crush states’ rights but, rather, because we are one country and I think it is going to be important for the entire country to make sure that poor folks in Mississippi and not just Massachusetts are healthy.

When the President draws a connection between contemporary advocates of limited government and the vicious history of American apartheid, the public is wont to think that this connection is accepted truth. He sets a new starting point for discourse, a new baseline for measuring the claims of his political opponents. He leads the average citizen to think that there’s no argument needed for these conclusions . . . even though an actual argument is definitely called for to support accusations of this sort.

Nevertheless, he might be onto something. No. Seriously…

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