Citizens United

A minor scandal is brewing in Las Vegas. In a city known for its impeccable ethics and strictly above-board dealings, the legal community is astir over suggestions that a nominee to the federal bench earned her nomination by engineering a windfall for her political sponsor, Senator Harry Reid, with conveniently-timed donations from her law partners.

At what point does sucking up to politicians cross into the appearance of impropriety for prospective federal judges, and how much should the rest of us care?

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Justice RBG rocking her doily.

* As soon as Mary Schapiro announced she was stepping down as chairwoman of the SEC, Obama nominated another woman to take her place. Congrats to SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter! [WSJ Law Blog]

* In other breaking news that no one will care about now that bonus season is upon us, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg swapped out her neck doily for a blingy necklace from Glamour. [Josh Blackman's Blog]

* You know what the ancient Romans would’ve hated more than watching the fall of the Roman empire? The Citizens United decision. Cato, Cicero, and Julius Caesar wouldn’t have been impressed with this. [Slate]

* Why go to law school if you’re already doing well financially? Perhaps you’re just another prestige hunter. If you are, then all the better for you, because that seems to be what all of the law schools are selling these days. [Inside the Law School Scam]

* Don’t cry for Argentina: they may be in the middle of a billion-dollar bond dispute, but the uber-prestigious lawyers on either side of the case (Boies; Olson) are enough to make you forget about their troubles. [Reuters]

* A Biglaw attorney from Alston & Bird with a rare sleep disorder confronts Big Pharma and… doesn’t win. At least not yet. But on the bright side, she’s not sleeping for 18 hours anymore. [The Last Word on Nothing]

* We’re honored to announce that Above the Law was named as one of the ten law blogs in the ABA Journal’s inaugural Blawg 100 Hall of Fame. Please click here if you’d like to help us win again this year. [ABA Journal]

* After the jump, Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia speaks with Bill Lawlor, a Dechert partner, who claims “hope springs eternal for M&A attorneys.” Will the mergers and acquisitions market begin to boom once again?

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Justice Samuel Alito

Where did we go wrong?

– Justice Samuel A. Alito, imagining the reaction of Yale Law School professors to the fact that he and Justice Clarence Thomas were, for a time, the two YLS graduates on the Supreme Court. Justice Alito delivered the keynote address last night at the annual dinner of the Federalist Society.

(Additional highlights from Justice Alito’s speech, after the jump.)

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Whether or not you think Citizens United was rightly decided, you have to agree that Anthony Kennedy totally underestimated the affect his ruling would have on our political process. The unfettered influx of money into the process has been ridiculous. Super PACs are openly plotting how they can buy the election, and it’s even worse on the state and local level. Even the mayor of New York is unabashed about using his money to “influence” the election.

The latest negative outcome from the “money is speech”/”corporations are people”/”unleash the oligarchs” decision comes from a boss near you. Citizens United now allows bosses to email you and tell you who to vote for. Your boss, of course, cannot force you to vote for one candidate or the other. But they are free to scare the crap out of you with misinformation and threats….

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At least Casey Anthony knows her new venue motion is laughable.

* Hurricane Sandy is set to arrive today, so batten down the hatches, folks! Everything’s closing down for the storm, but please feel free to email us, if your law school or law firm is encouraging you to work. [Washington Post]

* Thanks to the SCOTUS decision in Citizens United, companies can now recommend how their employees should vote, which is “no different from telling your children: ‘Eat your spinach. It’s good for you.’” [New York Times]

* Biglaw firms are re-negotiating their office space leases in an effort to save money. While some firms have already sealed their new real estate deals, others are still on the prowl — but which ones? [Am Law Daily]

* The University of St. Thomas School of Law has a new dean, and it certainly seems like he’s willing to make some waves to help his students. The first step for Robert Vischer? Reducing tuition. [National Law Journal]

* “I don’t think her popularity has improved since the [murder] verdict.” That’s probably why Casey Anthony’s lawyers are desperately trying to get a new venue for Zenaida Gonzalez’s defamation case. [Orlando Sentinel]

* A man divorced his formerly fugly wife (she had $100K in plastic surgery to correct her looks), sued her for luring him into marriage her under false pretenses, and won. Don’t worry, girls, this happened in China. [FOX]

Let’s talk about two of our favorite topics: money and politics. And the combination of the two, which creates both problems and opportunities for our democracy.

On Saturday I attended an excellent New Yorker Festival panel about politics and money, featuring some impressive speakers:

What did these distinguished and high-powered panelists have to say about the influence of money on our political system?

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I’m always amazed by the ability of the American public to contradict themselves. People hate Congress, but consistently reelect their Congressmen. People want more government services, but don’t support tax increases. The say they hate negative ads, but allow them to be incredibly effective.

Today is Constitution Day, and the Associated Press has a new poll that’s giving Americans a chance to express their contradictory views about our beloved organizing document.

One “headline” from the poll: nearly 70% of Americans believe the Constitution is an “enduring” document that doesn’t need to be “modernized.” Although that number is going down.

So it’s perfect the way it is, except for the parts that people don’t like….

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Sen. Patrick Leahy

We should probably give you the award for saying the highest level of sarcasm we’ve heard before this committee in a long time.

– Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, in remarks made to Jones Day partner Michael Carvin following the latter’s testimony at a hearing entitled “The Citizens United Court and the Continuing Importance of the Voting Rights Act.”

* Start spreading the fabulosity: Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has asked the Supreme Court to grant certiorari on a pair of cases challenging the Defense of Marriage Act. [BuzzFeed]

* Lawrence Lessig wants groups of 300 randomly selected people to craft a constitutional amendment in response to Citizens United. He clearly expects a bit too much of our population. [National Law Journal]

* In South Dakota, your abortion now comes with warnings about an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide. Forget that medical certainty hooey, it’s not constitutionally misleading. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “We do not arrest people because of the color of their skin.” Oh, of course not, Sheriff Arpaio. We totally believe you. But you might stop them, question them, and detain them because of it, right? [New York Times]

* We’ve just got too much Dickinson up in here. And in other Penn State news, the school is now considering a move that may cause at least one of its two law school campuses to lose its accreditation. [Patriot-News]

* Lady Gaga was sued by MGA Entertainment, the maker of Bratz dolls, over her alleged failure to approve a line of dolls made in her image. This is not a company you want to start a bad romance with. [Bloomberg]

* And I am telling you, I’m not going — to grant you parole. William Balfour, the man convicted of murdering Jennifer Hudson’s relatives, was sentenced to three life sentences without the possibility of parole. [CNN]

Thursday the Supreme Court will sit for its final session of October Term 2011. The Court will issue opinions in all the cases pending before it. For example, the Court will let the American people know whether they ever have a right to lie.

The Court will also rule on the case that, according to a sign I saw earlier, presents the question of whether we need to “Get The Feds Out of Medicare.” I’m not sure about the details of that case though, because it hasn’t gotten much press attention (I only read the Bicycle Times).

Today, however, the Court issued two opinions in argued cases. The fun in the courtroom was not in the opinions, but in the dissents….

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