Civil Rights

FOIA requests: how do they work?

As our resident Juggalo columnist mentioned in August, the minions of crazed rednecks who worship at the altar of Violent J and Shaggy2Dope — otherwise known as the Insane Clown Posse — are not at all happy that the FBI has labelled them a gang. To defend their honor, as well as their right to get wasted and throw absurd parties in the middle of nowhere, the Juggalo nation has decided to launch a Faygo attack on the Pentagon sue the FBI.

Looks like these clowns aren’t clowning around….

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Father of Our Country, Juggalo Washington

What is a juggalo?
Let me think for a second
Oh, he gets butt-naked
And then he walks through the streets
Winking at the freaks
With a two-liter stuck in his butt-cheeks

Insane Clown Posse

At the 1992 Republican National Convention, Pat Buchanan announced that America was in the midst of a culture war. In his view, this war was being waged between descendents of the 60′s counter-culture and those who sought to protect “traditional” values. In the field of law, this idea found a home in (who else?) Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in Romer v. Evans, in which he famously wrote that “[t]he Court has mistaken a Kulturkampf for a fit of spite.” Something about the original German sends a shiver down the spine, doesn’t it? Anyway, we can all surely agree that these two yahoos wouldn’t know a culture war if it slapped them in the face with a bottle of Faygo soda.

There’s a real culture war going on, ninjas. And it has nothing to do with gay marrying or abortions or the third rail of American politics, cockfighting. It has to do with the FBI’s insane decision to categorize Juggalos — i.e., fans of the Insane Clown Posse hip-hop duo — as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang.” It has to do with real persecution and honest-to-God discrimination against the Juggalo people.

Luckily for me and my fellow Juggalos, Insane Clown Posse doesn’t know the meaning of backing down. And that’s not a slam at all, it’s just a turn-of-phrase. They know the meaning. They just refuse to back down. Is what I’m saying….

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Chen Guangcheng

The fundamental question the Chinese government must face is lawlessness. China does not lack laws, but the rule of law.

– Chinese civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng, in an op-ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times. Guangcheng is currently studying law at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at NYU Law School.

(Keep reading to see how Guangcheng describes the lawless conduct he and his family have allegedly faced — at the hands of law enforcement — in his homeland.)

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How... do you keep changing your race?

* Dewey seriously have one chairman again? Good Lord, this law firm is literally falling apart! Martin Bienenstock had “no plans to file bankruptcy” because he knew he was taking the first life raft off this sinking ship. [WSJ Law Blog]

* When Dewey WARN people? When it’s already too late. In case you missed it last night, the firm was served with its first suit following its en-masse layoffs. The more the merrier, because it’s a class action. [Bloomberg; WSJ Law Blog]

* Elizabeth Warren can’t decide whether she’s white or Native American. Apparently it depends on her geographic location, because she was white at UT Law, but a minority while at Penn Law. [Boston Globe]

* Racial profiling still ain’t easy, but Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio “will fight this to the bitter end.” The Department of Justice has filed a civil rights suit against the no-nonsense Sheriff and his department. [Associated Press]

* New Jersey Governor Chris Christie must be gearing up for his inevitable 2016 presidential run, because yesterday he vetoed an online insurance marketplace required by the Affordable Care Act. [New York Times]

* Syracuse Law recently broke ground on a $90M building that will serve as its new home. May political plagiarizers continue to grace the law school’s halls for years and years to come. [National Law Journal]

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Yesterday, January 15, was the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the great American civil rights leader and Nobel laureate. As noted on the Nobel website, Dr. King was just 35 years old at the time he was honored, making him the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. Please take some time today to reflect on Dr. King and his legacy.

Hopefully you can engage in this reflection outside of the office. We’re guessing (and hoping) that most of you have the day off from work. Here at Above the Law, we will be publishing, although on a reduced schedule. So do check in with us from time to time (or scroll back through the archives and look at stories you might have missed from last week).

If you’re looking for something to do, you can use today for public service. Look up service projects in your area at MLKDay.gov. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

It’s been a bad few days for the Church of England. First, it gets slammed for siding with the bankers, rather than the protesters, after its flagship venue, St Paul’s Cathedral, finds itself at the heart of Occupy London. Second, a change to the U.K.’s ancient royal succession laws strikes a blow for its great rival, Rome, as a ban on royal family members who marry Catholics taking the throne is lifted.

Beginning with the Occupy London controversy: the protesters’ original plan was to occupy St Paul’s neighbour, the London Stock Exchange, which nestles alongside the U.K. branch of O’Melveny & Myers on an adjoining square. But they were blocked by the police, forcing them instead to set up camp on the forecourt of the great cathedral (built from the ashes of the Great Fire of London in 1666). At first this seemed like a defeat, as the Church of England played victim, shutting the doors of St Paul’s to visitors for the first time since the Second World War on what it claimed were health and safety grounds.

Here’s what the encampment looked like:

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We've got spirt! Yes we do! We've got spirt! How about you?

Give me an S! Give me a T! Give me an F! Give me a U! What does that spell? STFU!

Just in case you’re not aware, cheerleading is a pretty big deal in Texas. Everyone wants to be a cheerleader because it has some awesome perks. Cheerleaders get the rare privilege of ruling the school while they parade around spreading “spirt” throughout the halls. Cheerleaders hope and pray that they’ll land a football stud who will be their ticket out of town to work at the downtown dollar store.

And last, but certainly not least, alumnae cheerleader moms get to live vicariously through their daughters. And sometimes when former cheerleader moms don’t get what they want, they’ll — Fight! Fight! Fight with all their might! — sue over it.

Girls in my high school used to call each other names and claim Title IX sexual harassment and retaliation all the time. It was no big deal….

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Today we honor the birthday of the late great civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. Dr. King was born on January 15, 1929 (so he would have been 82 today). The holiday of MLK Day is observed on the third Monday of January.

Legislation for a holiday honoring Dr. King was first introduced shortly after his assassination in 1968, but it wasn’t until 1983 that the legislation was passed and the holiday signed into law (by President Ronald Reagan). Observation of the holiday was controversial for a time, but in 2000 it was officially observed in all 50 states.

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Truck driver Vasant Reddy is not living the high life. Reddy, a Muslim, refused to transport a shipment of Miller Lite as part of his duties. He claims he was forced to resign because of adherence to his religious beliefs.

Normally refusing to deliver something would seem to be a pretty big problem if your job is to deliver things. But that’s why we have Title VII. As a religious objector, Reddy should still be able to work at his job, provided that he sincerely holds this religious objection and that making an exception doesn’t impose an undue hardship on Reddy’s employers.

Is delivering beer an essential function of being a truck driver? Let’s get into it (dear Muslim friends, you’ll probably want to skip the comments on this post)…

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The Human Rights Campaign has released its annual Corporate Equality Index, which assesses corporate America’s progress towards equal treatment of the LGBT community.

It’s a pretty great day to be gay and searching for career advice. Gawker has a list up right now on the top ten gay colleges, and the Human Rights Campaign is trying to help you figure out where to work when you’re done with law school.

This year, 97 Biglaw firms (out of 130 who responded to the survey) received a perfect score from the HRC. That’s up from last year and makes the legal field the best industry when it comes to LGBT issues. Banking was next and retail finished third.

Check here to see if your firm made the list.

Granted, you’d expect law firms — what with their expert understanding of “laws,” and such — to be leaders when it comes to gay and lesbian equality. But the legal field was able to achieve this distinction notwithstanding a somewhat controversial rating philosophy that may have prevented other firms from achieving perfect scores…

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