Books

* Some marriage equality enthusiasts applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to stay out of the way and let the circuits do their thing. But the history of miscegenation in America suggests the Supreme Court had a moral obligation to interject. [USA Today]

* On this subject, Professor Dorf presents a fascinating hypothetical: is it in the strategic interest of an anti-gay marriage conservative lower court judge to strike down same-sex marriage bans in light of the Supreme Court’s cert denials? [Dorf on Law]

* One more story while we’re at it, after the Ninth Circuit struck down bans on same-sex marriages, District Judge Robert C. Jones of Nevada, who upheld the ban in the first place, recused himself rather that be forced to issue an opinion in accordance with Ninth Circuit precedent. [BuzzFeed]

* If you’ve ever wondered how Islamic State manages to recruit Western youth to the cause, the answer is a “Disney-like” social media campaign. It’s like a Biglaw summer program, but for murder. [Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy]

* “Better Hold Off Sexting With High School Students” in Indiana. The Indiana Supreme Court finally weighed in last week after the lower court had okayed a teacher texting a 16-year-old to sneak out of the house for sex. Wait, this required the Supreme Court to weigh in? What is wrong with you Indiana? [Valpo Law Blog]

* Looking professional with a pixie cut. [Corporette]

* Enter for a chance to win a Chief Judge Randall Rader bobblehead! Yes, these exist. [Santa Clara Law]

* The Zephyr Teachout book tour for Corruption in America (affiliate link) begins. Is your town on the list? [Teachout-Wu]

* New Orleans taxpayers spent around $75K traveling judges to conferences and resorts last year. Quoth the tipster: “I could make a joke about New Orleans judges going to the third world to learn how to run their courtrooms, but I think I already did.” [The Times-Picayune]

For aficionados of books about the U.S. Supreme Court, 2014 has been a very good year. The past few months have brought us Uncertain Justice, by Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz; The Case Against the Supreme Court, by Erwin Chemerinsky; Scalia: A Court of One, by Bruce Allen Murphy; and American Justice 2014, by Garrett Epps. (Forthcoming on the fiction side in a few weeks: my very own Supreme Ambitions.)

One of the most eagerly anticipated of these books is Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor, by veteran SCOTUS reporter Joan Biskupic. She recently posted a juicy excerpt on Reuters, in which Justice Antonin Scalia is quoted saying of Justice Sotomayor, “I knew she’d be trouble.”

What prompted Nino to make this comment about Sonia? It has to do with allegations of the Wise Latina engaging in unwise behavior at a Supreme Court party….

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In the mists of the ancient past, the American legal profession agreed to cede responsibility for developing a consistent citation method to the most anal-retentive of law school gunners determined to lord their mastery of unnecessary commas over people. Ultimately, the whole thing is an exercise in hazing law students. Torturing students over questions of underlining or italics is kind of a lame hazing ritual, but long gone are the days when a young Louis Brandeis was dared by ne’er-do-well Harvard 3Ls to head down to the local theater and yell “Fire!”

But the Bluebook is also a cash cow because every lawyer needs to own a copy that they’ll promptly ignore because in the real world, everyone blindly trusts their online research database to get it right and barring that, no one much cares about the minutiae of the Bluebook as long as everyone can easily find the source. Besides, you can get close enough for government work with the outdated ratty copy you were issued in law school. Very few judges are going to flip out if you signal “See” where you could just insert the cite.

Now that cash cow is in jeopardy, because one law professor thinks he can get everyone a free copy of the Stickler’s Bible. How, you ask?

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When you’re in law school, you’ll have the option of buying new books, or slightly cheaper used books. If you choose to buy someone else’s used book, then God bless you, because you might be stuck with errant highlighting and incredibly moronic notes in the margins. Since law students can be crass, you might even find some offensive remarks scrawled throughout the pages of your book.

Why go through the trouble of buying used books when you’ll have to deal with so much annoyance? Because you’ll be able to take revenge upon the prior owner with your own clever margin notes…

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I recently had the good fortune to hear Ian McEwan (author of the wonderful Atonement, among other books) and Steven Pinker (a name I’d never heard before — yet more proof of my vast ignorance) discuss what makes good writing. McEwan is of course a gifted novelist; Pinker is a cognitive scientist who thinks about (among other things) how children acquire language skills. This made for an interesting discussion.

Both authors had recently published new books. If you don’t want to spring for the price of Pinker’s book, you can read the nutshell version of his thesis in his recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

I stole the title of this column from Pinker’s talk. Pinker says that many people blame the internet for the younger generation’s inability to write clearly. But if Twitter’s the culprit — “the kids these days can write only 140-character sentence fragments” — then the world should have been awash in pristine prose in the days before Twitter.

We were not, of course. Most writing sucked in the ’90s, too. And in the ’80s. And the ’70s. And, according to Pinker, people have been complaining about bad writing in literally every generation since the invention of the printing press.

So it would be nice — but wrong — to blame today’s bad writing on modern technology.

If technology isn’t the culprit, then what is? Pinker’s thesis is one that I suspect all good legal writers have known subconsciously all along. But it’s worth speaking the words out loud and thinking about how to use this concept to improve both your writing and the writing of those you edit. . . .

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Justice Antonin Scalia

* Justice Scalia spoke at CU-Boulder last night. For his sake, we certainly hope he didn’t speak about any issues that might someday appear before SCOTUS, lest he be asked to recuse. [Boulder Daily Camera via How Appealing]

* Another one bites the dust over at Main Justice: David O’Neil, the head of the criminal division, is stepping down in the wake of the BNP Paribas case, and will likely have many white-shoe law firm suitors. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Fox Rothschild picked up a 18-lawyer boutique firm in Texas, which will serve as the home of its first outpost in the Lone Star State. Energy law, surprisingly, wasn’t the driving factor. [Legal Intelligencer]

* “I have a heart and I have two kids.” That’s a pretty damn good reason for Biglaw attorneys to take a break from their corporate billable hours to represent undocumented children pro bono. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Scott Greenfield reviews Lat’s forthcoming novel, Supreme Ambitions (affiliate link). Of course, in SHG style, it contains a spoiler. Try to skip that clearly marked paragraph. [Simple Justice]

SCOTUS broke this Con Law nerd’s heart.

We should realize that this is an emperor that truly has no clothes. For too long, we have treated the Court [a]s if they are the high priests of the law, or at least as if they are the smartest and best lawyers in society.

Erwin Chemerinsky, preeminent constitutional law scholar and dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, writing in what Robert Barnes of the Washington Post refers to as the academic’s “break-up note” to the Supreme Court. In his new book, The Case Against the Supreme Court (affiliate link), Chemerinsky notes that “[t]he court has frequently failed, throughout American history, at its most important tasks, at its most important moments.”

* Well here’s a headline: My Solo Practice Ended My Marriage. [Law Firm Suites]

* Pennsylvania Attorney General claims officials sent and received porn via state email accounts for years, “including top state jurists and 30 current employees of the state Attorney General’s Office.” If the AG’s office is swapping porn at all hours, somehow the whole “systematic blind eye to Penn State” thing makes more sense. [Associated Press via Lehigh Valley Live]

* Interesting argument for law schools to adopt the Montessori method “in the mindset of professors, in classroom management, in physical building design, and in radical curricular reform.” Law school deans’ eyes glazed over until they heard “physical building design” and recognized the potential for more spending. [TaxProf Blog]

* Here come the litany of Supreme Court previews. Most of them will focus on stuff like gay marriage. But this one gets to the sexy stuff, like FLSA regulations. [Federal Regulations Advisor]

* Oh look, the government made a rule that will ultimately accomplish nothing! That’s so cute. [CNBC]

* Prominent lawyer marries actor. Well played. [Jezebel]

* Boalt 3L builds app to “add the features Westlaw forgot.” Westlaw didn’t forget, they were just crowdsourcing. [The Recorder]

* Another review of Supreme Ambitions (affiliate link), David Lat’s forthcoming novel. [Indiana Law Blog]

* A list of lawyers who followed their passions. Let’s be honest: I just like that Lat’s in the same listicle as Jerry Springer. [One 400]

* Another report on the Brian Leiter kerfuffle (by Professor Jonathan Adler). [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]

* Postal carrier hoarded 40,000 pieces of mail. Newman! [The Smoking Gun]

* Another court allows service via Facebook. [Peter S. Vogel]

* Eric Holder is resigning. Time for the speculation that he must have done something awful to begin! [New York Observer]

* D.C. lawyer Ronald Goldfarb reviews John W. Dean’s new book (affiliate link) about the Nixon tapes. [Washington Independent Review of Books]

* New York court authorizes service over Facebook. Finally, a reason to use Google Plus. [Slate]

* Texas struck down the statute banning upskirt photos. The decision is more interesting than the sound-bite press it’s getting. [Popehat]

* Some PR advice may be privileged. Which is good because the law needs to incentivize companies trying to cover up possible legal liabilities. It might be more nuanced than that, but still. [Corporate Counsel]

* In the wake of the passing of Tommy Boggs, a profile on his power within Patton Boggs, including details of the final year leading up to its merger. [National Law Journal]

* A roundup of early reviews for David Lat’s forthcoming novel, Supreme Ambitions (affiliate link). [Supreme Ambitions]

* On choosing a criminal defense lawyer and why you might not want some reformed prosecutor. [Katz Justice]

* The Senate confirmed Gordon Tanner as general counsel to the Air Force. This is noteworthy because it reflects just how quickly the country has progressed from affirmative witch hunts, to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” to confirming a gay man as the top lawyer for a branch of the Armed Forces. [Washington Blade]

* A 49er fan is suing the NFL for $50 million for a policy that limited ticket sales to customers in Seahawks territory. Based on the season so far, he luckily won’t have to worry about the 49ers in the playoffs this year. [ESPN]

* Speaking of football, South Park ran an ad limited to D.C. during the Washington-Eagles game. See Eric Cartman school Dan Snyder on trademark law, after the jump…. [SB Nation]

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